How to Spot Fake Hotel Reviews

There was a time I was helping a friend find a hotel room for her vacation.  I checked many websites, and found the Red Roof Inn. They had really good reviews, so I suggested she’d book it.  And she did.  But when she got there, her room was in horrible condition.  She then had to find another hotel.  I asked myself, how did that happen?  Then I went back to the website and saw there were a lot of bad reviews as well, I was mesmerized by all the good reviews!  This turned out to be a learning experience.

Sorry to say, but we live in a world where people are paid leave good reviews.  Sometimes, there are the owners or employees themselves!  But there are ways to decipher between the real and fake.  Here are a few things you can look for.

Bad Reviews

Yes, I know this seems cliché.  But it is crucial to look at the bad reviews first no matter how much we want to stay at that particular hotel.  If you see there are tons of 5 and 4-star reviews, then 1 or 2-star reviews of equal or greater value, good chance most of those good reviews are fake.  Make sure you go directly to the bad reviews.  Sometimes the reviewers will tell you straight up “the good reviews are fake” or “don’t listen to the good reviews”.  They more than likely had a bad experience already.

Traveler’s Photos

Look for reviews with the traveler’s photos.  Not the property manager’s, which are typically edited or outdated.  Most sites like TripAdvisor (known to harness fake hotel reviews) will tell you which are travelers and which are not.  Make sure you look at the most recent photos which will give you an idea of how the place currently looks.  Sometimes you will find reviews of the worst conditions, and be glad you didn’t book!

Uniqueness

Typically fake reviews will be more “general” using phrases that sound more like an advertisement.  The real ones are usually the ones that are personal and lengthy.  When I mean by personal, they may include their husband (wives usually write the reviews), or kids, or even an employees names.

Traveler’s Tips

The real reviews will also give you tips.  Those tips will include what to do in the area, how far are restaurants, if you need a rental car, or best times to do a leisure activity.

There you have it!  Make sure you take these tips into consideration before you book your next hotel.  But just don’t limit these tips to a hotel.  You can use these tips for flights, tours, or car rentals.  Safe travels!

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16 thoughts on “How to Spot Fake Hotel Reviews

  1. Same here too. I usually go for the bad reviews first and see if the hotel administration respond to them or not.

    It tells me how much they care about customer satisfaction. Then, I head over to the positive/mediocre reviews and try to cross check with as many references as I could, such as travel blogs, photos and comments on their social media page – it’s hard to fake the last one.

    You mentioned that TripAdvisor often post fake reviews. Where did you get that information from? I am curious to know.

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  2. I’m fortunate that I haven’t been burned by any bad reviews of hotels and resorts but it just goes to show that you have to take any good reviews with a grain of salt.

    I would hate to be caught out from a bad review and I think you give some great advice to remind people that when they see good reviews that they should not accept them blindingly but think carefully about what is written to decide if it’s real or not.

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  3. Unfortunately paid and fake reviews and testimonials of just about everything are rife online. It makes it very hard to tell if something’s any good or not. I’ve heard some real horror stories when it comes to holiday accommodation, even to the point where the accommodation advertised and paid for in advance didn’t even exist.

    Thanks for the great post to bring this to people’s awareness.

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  4. Really useful post. My wife and I have been aware of the problem of fake reviews for some time now. She tends to be more skeptical than me. Like you mentioned, we always read the bad and mediocre reviews. The specifics can be revealing. I’ve noticed that with the not so good reviews, the reviewer is sometimes upset by a very specific aspect of the hotel room (or other product). But the thing that they didn’t like, might not be very important to me. (For instance, I usually get up very early in the morning, so if someone writes a review in which their main complaint is about early morning traffic noise, it’s not a problem for me). I also like to look for shear quantity of reviews. The more reviews, the less chance that most of them are fake; don’t you think?

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  5. I’ve been doing a bit of overseas travel the past few years and I plan on doing more. This article was a real eye opener for me.

    You’ve certainly given me some handy tips here in what to look out for when it comes to hotel reviews. Fake or edited photos are the worst offenders I think. You can make any dive look quite good in a photo.

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  6. I think the easiest way to spot a fake hotel review is the way the review is written. It is as you said, fake ones tend to sound more general and they are often shorter in length. Personally, I’ve not had any problems with hotels. I always book from Agoda and I like it. I tend to look for reviews which are very specific and long because then I’ll know that it’s genuine.

    Anyways, thanks for these tips.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Be careful, they are getting good out there. Not everyone is going to leave a specific and long review. I’m glad you found a system that works for your. Safe travels!~Jo Jo

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  7. Hi Jo Jo,
    I am really surprised that Trip Advisor is famous for fake reviews! I’ve used them many times, including finding the condo for a recent family vacation in Maui and they were spot on. And once when we had booked a vacation at a new hotel in Jamaica, the reviews warned that the hotel was way behind in it’s opening date and wasn’t in fact ready for guests. But I believe you! I’m sure there are some phony reviews in the mix, I’ve just been lucky. Another tried and true way for me as far as getting legitimate reviews is Yelp. It’s my kid’s go-to for anything from restaurants to hotel reviews. What is your opinion of Yelp?
    Erica

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    1. Actually I use Trip Advisor, and have been successful finding good hotels based on the methods I use in the post. I hardly use Yelp, so I cannot give you an opinion on them. This post was about how to spot fake reviews, anywhere, on any website.

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  8. Wow! this is really good advice! (looking at bad reviews first). Reviews are pretty much all I read when I’m trying to decide where to stay… And I tend to be a pretty trusting, believing person. Thank god this has never happened to me. But buyer beware! Thanks for writing this. It’s important to know.

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