TripAdvisor Offers to Scrub Negative Hotel Reviews in Exchange for a Little Renovation

In what should be great news to anyone with clients in the hospitality industry, top travel blog Skift reports that TripAdvisor has announced plans to remove negative user reviews from hotel listings…as long as the businesses in question do some renovating. Given the power of user reviews to drive sales, this is kind of a big deal.

The change has been in the works for some time, but the company recently got specific with its demands (hint: new paint and window dressings won’t do).

To qualify as a major renovation, changes must be structural in nature. Cosmetic changes, such as new carpets, paint, or wallpaper, do not qualify.

In order to certify said (major) renovations, the business in question must submit one of the following documents:

  • Online press release with the publication’s letterhead documenting the renovation
  • Notarized copies of building/work permits
  • Notarized copies of the trades’ invoices for materials and labor
  • Notarized letter from city officials or Tourist Board verifying the scope of renovation and duration of the closure

We’ll go with the first.

The potential payoff is big: if a hotel can satisfy TripAdvisor with evidence of significant structural renovations, then the site will remove all reviews. It’s a brand new start! Of course, most business owners and PR pros would love to be able to choose which reviews stay and which get scrubbed, but that would make the whole undertaking a little less ethical, wouldn’t it?

Things to remember: Web surfers won’t know that the new ratings have anything to do with renovations, but the only other way to hit the “reset” button is by selling your business. If, for example, a Marriott becomes a Days Inn, then the user review section of its page will start over as well.

Most hotels hate TripAdvisor like most restaurants hate Yelp and most publishers hate Amazon—while recommendations are always good, bad reviews can color potential customers’ impressions of a business. This is an encouraging development, but convincing clients to pay for big makeovers is another matter entirely.