Ben Squires


Devious tactic hotels use to ban bad reviews

Devious tactic hotels use to ban bad reviews

While it certainly falls short of being the white knight of the travel industry, the online review system is an important tool to let holidaymakers review their accommodation options, while ultimately keeping the providers honest.

But some hotels are going to incredible lengths to avoid bad publicity, and this alarming trend could see you left with a hefty fine once your trip is over.

This practice was first brought to light when a New York hotel made headlines four years ago, after an alarming detail was noticed in the booking terms and conditions.

“If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event,” read the policy at the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, “there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review... placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

But this is by no means an isolated incident. Hotels are increasingly adding unreasonable details to their T’s and C’s which discourage guests from going online with bad reviews.

And it’s not just happening in the US. Last November, Meriton Serviced Apartments were found guilty in the Federal Court of “masking” a practice that prevents bad reviews being left of TripAdvisor. The court found staff added “MSA” to the email addresses of any guests who had a negative experience, which would make their email address invalid and prevent them from getting a TripAdvisor invite to review their stay.

 “It will send a strong message to the industry more broadly,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court told after the court’s ruling.

“If Meriton can get caught I do think that is going to make people sit up and think about what they are doing ... no doubt it does happen in other places.”

What are your thoughts? Do you generally leave a review after staying at a hotel? 

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