Controversy over Yelp Reviews Reinforces the Need for Honest Vacation Home Reviews

Last week, East Bay Express,  a San Francisco based publication, published a story accusing Yelp – a popular local business review site – of altering review content in exchange for monthly advertising fees.   The article included testimonials of local businesses that claimed they were offered a Yelp advertising program to improve their reviews on Yelp for a fee.

I will refrain on commenting on the merits of the accusations, but instead use the topic of the story to highlight the value of trusted review content.

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The Value of a Review is a Function of its Honesty

The internet has enabled the consumer masses to participate in the product and service marketing process.  We consumers are no longer limited to one-way marketing pitches and information to make our decisions.  Company X may claim they sell the best widget on the market, which may be the case, but unless we can see some verified testimonials and reviews from past widget users it’s just a marketing pitch.

The challenge becomes making sure the testimonials and reviews we leverage when making our decision are from real ‘unfiltered’ consumers.    This is why the Yelp article mentioned above received so much attention last week.   Yelp attracts over 20M people per month that rely on the site to find and select the best local restaurants, hair salons, etc..   If consumers began to question the honesty of the reviews they find on Yelp, then the value of the site, service and reviews are diminished.

FlipKey’s Commitment to Honest Vacation Homes Reviews

At FlipKey maintaining the trust, verification and honesty of our reviews is paramount to helping ensure travelers find and book the best vacation rentals that meet their needs.  As such, we take great efforts to ensure our reviews are honest and authentic:

 - FlipKey clients can not pay to move, adjust or prioritize reviews

-  FlipKey only solicits reviews through a closed email invitation process that ensures only confirmed guests are able to leave a review.  FlipKey’s system curbs the instances of competitors leaving false negatives on homes they have never stayed in.

-  The only reviews removed from FlipKey are reviews that violate FlipKey terms of service (e.g. contain profanity, personal attacks, etc.)

-  All FlipKey reviews are applied to FlipKey’s ‘authentication filter’ that identifies false positives (managers reviewing their own homes) and SPAM

-   FlipKey publishes all reviews in chronological order, no matter if the review is a glowing 5-star review or a critical 2-star review.

Therefore, when you see a review is “Verified by FlipKey” trust that the content is honest and complete.