Guests 'try to blackmail resorts'

Bernard and Rikki Grinberg of Ballina Beach Village, in South Ballina.
Bernard and Rikki Grinberg of Ballina Beach Village, in South Ballina. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

ACCOMMODATION houses claim guests are demanding money in exchange for not posting fictional damning critiques of their properties on a prominent travel consumer review website.

The industry is also being pestered by "reputation enhancement" companies who offer to write good reviews on TripAdvisor - for a fee of up to $1000.

Ballina Beach Village resort manager Rikki Grinberg said she was approached by a woman who showed her a mobile phone picture of bathroom pipes with urine on them.

"When I pointed out that we don't have exposed pipes on our bathroom walls, she said, 'Oh, that must have been the last place'."

She said the woman asked her six times for money in exchange for not posting a negative review but was turned down.

"We re-cleaned her villa six times but clearly not to her satisfaction. She gave us a stinker of a review."

She said written requests to TripAdvisor asking them to remove "unfair" scathing remarks had been rejected because sensational comments attracted readers.

Accommodation Association of Australia manager of national operations Michael Georgeson said the site was "the bane of my existence".

"It's (TripAdvisor) got the strong potential to undermine a business and damage it quite substantially ," he said.

"The submission process for the guests is too easy and not moderated while the reply process for the operators is too difficult to get on there and highly moderated."

TripAdvisor, based in the UK, did not reply to The Northern Star's emails prior to publication. However the company has previously said such allegations were taken seriously and that not only was this kind of behaviour strictly against their guidelines, but it also may be illegal in many jurisdictions.


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Topics:  accommodation blackmail guests reviews tripadvisor

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