How to spot a fake hotel reviewNewsBy Viewpoints | April 13, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest article by Gilles Granger, founder of travel review website Vinivi.User generated content and hotel reviews have become a mainstay of travel sites in recent years, giving visitors the chance to see what the wisdom of the crowds has to say about a property.But the concept is controversial, with anonymous and inaccurate reviews sometimes left by rival properties or PR agencies. Here we outline twelve easy steps to help uncover the Pinocchios of the web, the fake reviewer:1. Check the email address and username.Many fake reviews are posted by a hotelier boasting about his own property – and who uses his own hotel email address to submit it. Equally unusual email addresses (usually free such as gmail or hotmail) or usernames are frequently bogus – for example if they contain lots of numbers or random letters.2. Note puffery.Most genuine reviewers use common phrases to express satisfaction or discontent. An abundance of superlatives, overly flowery criticisms or flattery should prompt suspicion.Plus fakes submitted by a hotelier will often contain positive details (if submitted by the owner) or negative ones (by competitors) that a real customer would not think to comment upon - for example the brand name of a supplier such as a caterer. Excessive use of exclamation marks is also a sign of a fraudulent review.3. Look at a property’s website.Someone paid to write positive reviews will often copy and paste.4. Vagueness.For example, saying that a place is terrible without justifying the complaint can mean that the reviewer is unfamiliar with a property and has probably never stayed there. Such reviews are frequently submitted by competitors or even a vengeful former member of staff.5. Refusal to enter into dialogue.Most genuine complainers are more than happy to discuss their problem and often will try to seek compensation or redress. Someone who will not respond to a concerned, polite follow up email are to be treated with caution.6. Mismatches.When the complaint doesn’t correlate with the stated "type" of traveler. For instance when someone who says they went on a business trip complains about the lack of family facilities.7. Sarcasm."This is a great hotel – not". Real reviewers typically take their responsibility in offering feedback seriously and are rarely in the mood for irony.8. Timing.An unhappy guest will usually make their feelings clear within a few days of returning from a trip. A review submitted weeks or months after the alleged stay will prompt a Vinivi consultant to investigate further.9. Multimedia.Take a look at pictures or videos that have been submitted. If these seem to lack spontaneity and are too generic and professional in appearance there is a good chance that they have been uploaded by a hotel’s own management.Also most genuine critics will offer a photograph that identifies the property in which they stayed (e.g. signage, exterior) alongside any detailed unflattering shots so we check whether a supporting ‘contextual’ image has been provided.10. Look for patterns.If a positive review specifically looks to undermine a previous criticism, there is a good chance that it has been put forward by that property’s management.11. Words and style.If a hotel’s name is written in full, with the same reference and capitalization as in its marketing materials (eg. The Named Hotel by Named Brand in Location), this is a sign of an overt marketing ploy by a hotel to reinforce its branding.12. Odd ones out.If a property generally attracts positive comments about its facilities or service you should be suspicious of a one off opinion which is excessively critical.NB: This is a guest article by Gilles Granger, founder of travel review website Vinivi.