Wednesday, December 24, 2014

If You're Traveling To Italy This Holiday Season

Modern tourists like to consult review websites to decide where to stay or where to eat when abroad. If you are heading to Italy for a year-end holiday, be warned. The Italian government believes that TripAdvisor will mislead you.

Or some truly miserable hovels have enough political influence to make things difficult for a website that serves to help the weary traveler avoid places not worthy of their business.

Italy's competition authority determined that TripAdvisor wasn't doing enough to ensure that false reviews were blocked from being posted, as if the hotel down the street was bombarding the site with negative comments about a neighboring establishment to drive them out of business. There were not enough guarantees for the authority to be satisfied that reviewers' identities were checked to be sure that a review was written by the person listed, rather than a bunch of sock puppets concocted by one hotelier looking for an advantage. For such lack of oversight, TripAdvisor will be fined heavily, unless they can come back to the authority and prove they aren't negligent.

Take the reviews of the Hotel Acropoli Rome. Could Pamela K. of Enfield , Ireland, be a genuine Irishwoman complaining of a stinking room, or is the dire warning to avoid the hotel an attempt by nefarious individuals to besmirch the place?
Terrible is in the eye of the beholder

What of the Airport Palace Hotel? Is it really as terrible as most of the reviewers say, or has a competitor been filing false reports? Can TripAdvisor prove that all those people who say "don't stay there!!!!" actually stayed there? And found the place genuinely terrible?

TripAdvisor stands by its reviews, but proving that the people are real individuals and not paid shills could be a difficult task.

What's a consumer to do?

Take TripAdvisor with a grain of salt, perhaps, or consider the number of negative reviews as compared to the positives. It's caveat emptor out there in Italy.

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