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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. YES, I agree. Reviews should never be altered. Its a numbers thing...if you get enough reviews, the bad ones will work their way out. A guest was towed at our vacation rental and he was pretty upset. I ended paying the towing but he still wrote a bad review on adventurepads.com but we've had enough good ones to not make it as relevant. Shame on Yelp.

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  3. I am simply trying to find a place to review a palm springs rental called "Sun Villa San Lorenzo," in palm springs from vacationpalmsprings.com. We feel that if we had real reviews about the property, we would not have paid the $600 per night rental and stayed somewhere else. The house was okay, not the way it is hyped, the kitchen is old 1970's style and small. The backyard is great. and the home fairly nice, but you need to go through some bedrooms to get to others, making some not really that private.

    The worst part about the place was the thermostat permanently set at 84'. This was completely uncomfortable and we were told that nothing could be done about it. Nobody could sleep, outside was even hotter, even at night. The kitchen would get to 90-95' when cooking. Combine this with the fact that they had a mandatory cleaning fee, and then charged $200 for extra cleaning because the fridge was not cleaned out, made us really peeved. This was a year ago and it still makes me mad. That is why I am trying to find a way for people to know that this rental company does not care about their customers. We ended up paying over $700 per night for a place that was worth $200 if it had the proper air conditioning.

    Help me find a place to warn others. I have never left a bad review before. Somebody help me find a place to publish a review! Thank you.

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