Did TripAdvisor Really Get Caught Deleting Negative Reviews?

One disappeared review of the St. Regis Chicago has people wondering if it's a pay-to-play scenario

The TripAdvisor logo on a mobile device
There are a handful of reasons TripAdvisor can delete reviews, but lack of stars isn't one.

Last month, TripAdvisor released its 2023 Review Transparency report, which revealed that the platform had netted 1.3 million fake or fraudulent reviews in 2022 — 4.4% of all the reviews that were submitted. Only 72% of them never even made it to the site, a fact TripAdvisor was very proud of.

Tripadvisor is built on trust, and we will never stop improving our systems to ensure our community has access to reliable content and the businesses listed can compete on a level playing field,” said vice president for trust and safety at Tripadvisor Becky Foley in a statement at the time. “The findings from this report show that our approach is working; we’re catching a higher proportion of fraudulent content before it is published, with nearly three-quarters of fake reviews never even making it to the platform.”

But what if that approach was also being applied to negative reviews? Travel blog The Bulkhead Seat‘s Anthony Losanno certainly thinks it’s possible.

According to Losanno, it started with a stay at the new St. Regis Chicago during its opening week, after which he took to TripAdvisor to leave a review: “I wrote a fair assessment of the property and gave it a three-star review on TripAdvisor. Other users were slamming the hotel for its handling of the elite breakfast benefit, which is has since started offering. They did not stay at the hotel and their reviews were really not fair. But, my review was legitimate,” Losanno wrote. Later, however, he would find that his review, along with 14 others, had been deleted.

Now, for the uninitiated, TripAdvisor’s terms state that properties may request to have reviews taken down from the site if they contain profane or vulgar language, intolerant language, irrelevant information, bias or blackmail or secondhand information. And as One Mile at a Time‘s Ben Schlappig notes, hotels can pay TripAdvisor for more exposure, though that doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) impact the reviews that are (or aren’t) published.

Of course, as Schlappig also states, it could be an oversight on TripAdvisor’s part. Many of the reviews do appear to have been fraudulent according to TripAdvisor’s terms — Losanno says as much — so it’s possible his was confused with the others.

That said, deleting a fair review from a paying customer sets a bad precedent. Assuming it’s the first time it’s happened, that is.


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