Review Centre has now put a warning against reviews for LowcostHolidays on its system, informing readers the company has offered money for customers that leave positive reviews.
A UK travel company has defended its use of a discount voucher given to customers in return for them leaving a positive review of their trip.
A reader of consumer blog BitterWallet forwarded an email sent from LowcostHolidays after they returned from a trip to Lanzarote in Spain...
The incentive was only if they posted a positive comment on the Review Centre site, rather than on TripAdvisor, for example, for the hotel that was part of the trip.
Some might ponder that this is because Review Centre feeds in star ratings to pay-per-click ads for LowcostHolidays.
BitterWallet is not impressed:
"Astroturfing at its murkiest. So don’t forget to take those online reviews with a large pinch of salt from now on, eh readers?"
The comments against the original story are actually quite mixed, illustrating that consumers are either completely indifferent to be rewarded for having a good trip and telling everyone about it, to those that think there is a blurring of the boundaries, especially as there is no way to illustrate on Review Centre that the positive comments also led to the consumer pocketing £25 towards their next trip.
Such an issue incenses those critical of the user review concept, but for LowcostHolidays it actually sees nothing wrong with dangling a little carrot in front of happy customers.
CEO Paul Evans says:
"We offer customers a £25 voucher when they return from their holiday as a thank you for booking with us and taking the time to write reviews about their experience.
"And 99%+ of customers have a fab time and we like to hear from the majority not the minority in life. We like happy customers - we encourage happy customers - we are proud of them - we celebrate them and we encourage them to share their experiences.
"And we are delighted when the come back."
So, the entire episode does beg the following question: if a customer had a good time on a holiday and was likely to re-book, is there anything wrong with saying thank you with a handy voucher?
Or is just a bit on the stinky side?