What TripAdvisor Can Learn From Newspapers

In the New York Times today, there’s this about hoteliers and TripAdvisor Reviews. The gist of the article is this: That some hoteliers are mad to the point of boiling mad, lawsuit mad, about hotel reviews that are so negative and so uniformed they border on libel.

The temptation to go overboard on the negativity is always there. I once checked out of a Saigon hotel at 10:00 pm after construction started in the building next door, in the room next to mine. My walls were literally vibrating from sledgehammer blows. I made arrangements at another hotel and checked out, paying for a mini-bar charge.

I wouldn’t pay for the room. This 2-star hotel insisted. Threatened to call the police. Followed me out the door, shouting until I got into a cab. And then the next morning, there they were in the lobby still insisting on payment. Tell the GM to call me, I said. Case closed.

The temptation, again, is to go overboard on the review. To make them the feel the pain of deplorable service. I didn’t, and guests shouldn’t. But it very well may be that many do.

Which is why it makes sense for TripAdvisor to start doing what some newspapers are starting to do: Require that people who post comments provide their name and contact information. Name and hometown should be de rigueur, as they are for letters to the editor, and published along with the comment. The contact information is not published but reserved for verification purposes.

Yes, this will decrease the volume of comments. But is that such a bad thing? When more than 20,000 people rage on Yahoo over this or that news story, so much of that commentary is nothing but hot air. All that volume is bad for public discourse. Because unchecked commentary is so often inflammatory and downright hateful.

With real names, at least, there’s some measure of accountability.

Jim Sullivan Managing Director
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