TripAdvisor’s reliability has been called into question again after Accor’s general manager of communications in Sydney admitted to anonymously posting more than 100 hotel reviews on TripAdvisor.
Peter Hook published glowing reviews about the hotels owned by his employer, Accor and Sofitel, and critical reviews about the hotel group’s rivals.
“As a first time visitor to Phnom Penh I didn’t know much about the hotel scene so booked a brand I knew well. It turned out to be a good choice,” Hook wrote about the Sofitel in Phnom Penh.
In contrast, in a 2010 review Hook criticised rival the Intercontinental Hotel in Adelaide as “the ideal location but stuck in a time warp and rather expensive”.
The communications manager was sprung by online reputation management firm Kwikchex after TripAdvisor introduced a Facebook app.
On TripAdvisor, Hook was known only as “Tavare” as the review site only identifies users by their username.
But the app displays a name, photograph and location taken from each user’s Facebook account and Hook was revealed as the true author of “Tavare”.
Hook has been stood down from his role at Accor and the hotel group said Hook’s actions were a breach of its social media policy.
“We do regret this individual initiative from one of our employees did not comply with the Accor charter,” Simon McGrath, the chief operating officer of Accor said in a statement.
“We reaffirm our wish to increase our watchfulness on this point.”
McGrath said Accor was working closely with TripAdvisor to take “whatever action is necessary” to ensure the credibility and transparency of online travel reviews and forums.
Angus Struthers, global communications director at TripAdvisor, told SmartCompany all of Hook’s reviews have been removed pending investigation.
“It would clearly be inappropriate for a senior executive of a hotel company to review hotels within their own company,” he said.
TripAdvisor claims its reviews are screened by “world-class” tools for fraud.
Hook defended his reviews to London’s Telegraph newspaper saying they were his personal observations.
“Every review I have written has resulted from personally experiencing the product,” he said.
“However, it is fair to say that my professional position should have been mentioned in any review of the hotels.”