How to Spot Fake Hotel Reviews

One thing I like to talk about when it comes to travel safety would have to be the huge presence of fake hotel reviews on the internet. Every corner of the internet is full of fake reviews, but spotting some of them can be difficult. In this article, I’m going to be sharing my tips to hopefully help you to see how to spot fake hotel reviews.

Are Fake Hotel Reviews Really That Common?

I wish I could sit here and tell you all of the hotel reviews on the internet are real, I really do. But, I would be lying to you and that’s not what I’m here for.

For a little short of a decade, I worked as a copywriter for various travel-related companies. During that time, I was offered ever-changing amounts of money to write fake hotel reviews.

While I never took the money or the jobs, I did gain insight into the descriptions that came strapped to the offers. They taught me a lot about just how common fake hotel reviews are and how you can spot them.

Here are my tips for things to watch out for:

1. Are all of the reviews amazing?

The first thing I would always advise looking at is the sheer number of amazing reviews that you’re seeing. Even the most luxurious five-star hotels should receive bad reviews from time to time.

That’s only natural too. We all have different tastes when it comes to hotels and none of our experiences will ever be the same. It’s almost impossible to create a hotel that caters to the needs of every single guest.

When all of the reviews are amazing, it stands out as quite the imbalance. Accidents can happen and things do go wrong, that’s just a part of life. The best of hotels will have bad days, just as the worst of hotels will have good days.

2. Does the hotel sound too good to be true?

If every single review you can see is singing a hotel’s praises and sounds like it could benefit from you staying in the hotel, it’s probably too good to be true. Even the best of real reviews will sometimes include small issues that people had or things that they would have preferred to be different. 

Most real reviews sound natural and involve the writer sharing their personal experience, without sounding like marketing pitches or brochure content. In some situations, you’ll even notice fake reviews using the same branding phrases as the company.

On the flip side of this, some natural reviews can end up sounding like brochures. After years of writing travel advice, brochures and guides, I can find it hard to break that cycle in how I write. What you’re looking for is lots of reviews sounding the same way, rather than the odd one or two.

3. Where are the reviews coming from?

Depending on which platform you’re using to check reviews, you might be able to see how many reviews each reviewer has left. A quick red flag can be found when all of the reviews appear to be coming from first-time reviewers and new accounts.

Unfortunately, spotting this alone isn’t always enough. Some hotels will specifically look for people with pre-existing accounts to make their reviews look more legitimate. They’ll often pay more based on how long the account has been active and how many reviews it has left.

4. Is everyone talking about the same thing?

One thing I noticed when I began receiving more and more job offers for fake reviews was patterns. A lot of hotel owners and companies have some very specific things that they like to pitch. For example, the quality of their restaurant, close proximity to the beach or modern aesthetic. 

If you find yourself reading a few fake reviews in a row, you might spot those highlights. If everyone seems to be sharing the exact same insight about the same thing, with no further real details, you have to wonder why they’re all being so specific.

5. Are their reviews the same on different platforms?

When looking for fake reviews, some hotels and companies will have a particular platform they wish to target. TripAdvisor was one I would see mentioned frequently in offers. After seeing their report from Which? and how it was handled, it’s easy to see that many fake reviews on TripAdvisor stay live.

To try to tackle this, I always recommend checking a handful of different platforms, especially if you notice the reviews leaning heavily towards being all positive or all negative. You might also see an influx of suddenly positive reviews. If there are huge variations across different platforms, you know there’s a little more to what you’re seeing than meets the eye.

6. What does the average review for the hotel you’re looking at look like?

If you take the top perfect reviews and the bottom horrific reviews away, what are you left with? Those are the reviews that are often worth paying the most attention to.

The best reviews that always sing the praises of the hotel have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The worst reviews could quite easily be from competition down the street. By using the reviews that fall nicely between the two, you can get a really nice idea of what the hotel is generally like.

Happy Hotel Hunting!

Hopefully these tips on how to spot fake hotel reviews will help you to identify a few in no time. It’s sad that it’s something we have to think about, but studies seem to estimate that between 20% – 40% of hotel reviews on the internet are fake, especially when you’re looking at “world’s best” hotels.

Have you ever had a rough experience with hotel reviews? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.