The programme looks at the best and worst hotels Britain has to offer, and this week’s episode focused on the lengths that some will go to mislead customers.
In the show presenter Alexis Conran revealed just how easy it is to rack up an undeserved five-star online reputation by launching his fake hotel.
To boost the online ranking of Alexis’ fake hotel, “Hotel Alexis” – which is actually a tiny building in Bekonscot’s Model Village in Buckinghamshire – he purchases fake reviews from a website which promises to add them to trusted review sites.
The “fake review farm” delivers dozens of believable five-star reviews, proving just how easily buyers can be manipulated.
Saoud Khalifah, CEO of Fakespot, said faking reviews had become big business due to how important it is for businesses to rank well on search engines. He said: “I think the internet has kind of spiralled out of control on the basis of fake information.
“People want to be in the first top five ranking position because that’s where all the eyes land.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people have a lot of fraudulent tactics – fake reviews, fake upvotes, fake likes – to get to that top five ranking because of the amount of money you can make.”
Top tips for how to avoid fake hotel reviews
On the show Saoud shared his top tips for spotting fake reviews.
Despite the best effort of major review sites to monitor fraudulent activity, Saoud believes that many allow fake reviews to slip through the net.
1. Don’t go by the star rating
A red flag that can suggest a review is fake is if it is written by a first-time reviewer.
Alexis said: “When a large proportion of reviews are left there by people who haven’t reviewed anything else, then you should be suspicious.”
2. Positive reviews too good to be true?
The practice of flooding a site with “glowing five-star reviews” to hide negative reviews is common.
So look for a pattern of over complementary reviews that use suspiciously similar wording and overly effusive language.
3. Don’t rely on the reviews of one site
Do not just look at the reviews on the site you’re using to book the hotel.
Instead check multiple sites including TripAdvisor and other independent sites to get a better idea of the general experiences of guests.
4. Check if reviews are real using AI
Fakespot uses artificial intelligence to analyse whether reviews are fake.
So if you are feeling suspicious about a hotel’s reviews, why not check it out on the Fakespot website.
Look for vlog reviews
If you are looking for a comprehensive review, why not check out a vlog from someone who has visited the hotel?
Saoud said: “I think there’s nothing more authentic than someone going on a vlog and actually reviewing a hotel on let’s say, YouTube.”