I got to know about the TripAdvisor website after a hotelier friend of mine told me about how damaging the comments written there could be to a business. With over 50 million unique monthly views, this is a site that claims to “give consumers a voice,” but one which a Channel 4 investigation actually showed to be a forum dominated by “Little Hitler’s who think they can just walk all over anyone.”
The basic concept of TripAdvisor is that it allows individuals to air their views on their experiences in restaurants and hotels and managers and owners are given a right to reply. The problem with this is that most comments are negative as people tend not to write up good experiences and as a result TripAdvisor has become a sounding board for eccentrics, odd jobs and plain simply put nutcases.
Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne
Earlier this year Duncan Bannatyne (of Dragons' Den fame) decided to take a stand against TripAdvisor after they refused to remove negative reviews of his leisure business. At the time, Bannatyne commented:
“They have tried to bully me, they have sent threatening letters and emails, they have urged me to shut up, but they won’t speak to me directly… TripAdvisor is a despicable and cowardly organisation, which is bullying small hotel owners all over the United Kingdom. As a recent victim of a rogue review, I am well placed to lead the campaign for more protection against the perils of TripAdvisor.”
The subject plainly became of interest to the Channel 4 team who chose to show a programme named Attack of the TripAdvisors on Monday evening. Here was a show that highlighted the rift between hoteliers on one side and TripAdvisor “fanatics” on the other.
The Old Forge Seafood Restaurant
The Old Forge in Thursford was one small family run hotel that came under scrutiny in the show. Here we saw owners Colin and Sarah Goldspink complain of critics inventing “bullshit reviews” and “people not realising what this does to us.” The couple made the effort to invite one critic (who goes by the name of “CatDee”) back for a free meal. It ended in a showdown with Colin Goldspink stating: “I couldn’t give a fuck about the woman… But the truth is that she could ruin our business again.” Goldspink’s conclusion was frankly sensible when he said of his critics: “Forgive them for they know not for what they do.”
Lingmoor room at The Eltermere Inn
Mark Jones of The Eltermere Inn in Ambleside has been described as an “arrogant proprietor” running a “house of horrors” on TripAdvisor. For the programme Jones invited one of TripAdvisor addict named Stuart Wilson to his hotel. Before arriving this individual, of someone he’d yet to meet, stated:
“If he’s got any sense, he’ll be on his best behaviour… He’s too big for it’s own boots.”
During his stay Wilson wrote up his experience:
“One of the pictures depicted rape… I thought I had stumbled into a swinger’s hotel.”
When tackled by Jones about his review, Wilson’s only answer was: “You should embrace it.” Here was a man who was utterly ridiculously pernickety about a hotel that actually looks utterly delightful.
The worst individual on the show was a 26-year old supermarket assistant named Ricky who spends the entirety of his leisure time on TripAdvisor. “No detail is too small,” he began, before describing how he put dots on sheets to see if they were changed, stealing teabags to see if they replenish them and stating how “adrenalin rushes through [him] as he does this.” Sat in the bar of a Cleethorpes B&B, a dialogue between him and his gran went as follows:
Ricky: “I asked for a vodka and lemonade and they brought a vodka and tonic. I’m going to put that in my review.”
Granny: “Why are you making an issue out of that? Why do you need to write about it?”
Ricky: “Because it is an incident that happened on my holiday.”
Granny: “I love him to bits but he loves that power. He was bullied at school and now he thinks he’s getting the upper hand.”
Ricky: “I go through life with people telling me I’m not good enough… Everyone has got something they’re good at. I’m good at writing reviews and helping people.”
Other interviewees described how: “TripAdvisor is extremely addictive… Even when I’m not using it for research, I use it for fun” before adding that they photograph the room before using anything, check whether kettles have water in and time how long fans run before shutting off. Here were a bunch of oiks with too much time on their hands. These were people who frankly should find something better to do and should look inside their hollow lives before attacking others.
As the American editor Cassie Stinnett once said: “A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” I doubt, though, that any diplomat would put up with a holiday with any of these tripping fools.
Watch Channel 4’s Attack of the Trip Advisors at: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/attack-of-the-trip-advisors/4od
For more information and a whole barrage of bile go to Trip Advisor at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk. Follow Trip Advisor on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/TripAdvisorUK
For more from Duncan Bannatyne go to: http://www.bannatyne.co.uk. Read about Bannatyne’s campaign against Trip Advisor at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8277098/Duncan-Bannatyne-to-campaign-against-cowardly-TripAdvisor.html
For more information on The Old Forge at Thursford, Norfolk go to: http://www.seafood.northnorfolk.co.uk/index.php. Read Colin and Sarah Goldspink’s blog at: http://www.seafood.northnorfolk.co.uk/seafood-news
For more information on The Eltermere Inn in Ambleside, Cumbria go to: http://www.eltermere.co.uk