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Travel website reviews under fire

Sponsored by: PDM TRAVEL

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IF LIKE many people you rely on the internet to check reviews of the destination you’re planning to visit, a hotel you’re planning to book or indeed for any other information about your upcoming travel plans, then read on!

The fraudulent practice of hotel managers and staff posting rave reviews of their own hotels on travel websites, which was highlighted by a recent Holiday Which? report, is to become illegal in the UK from next year.

According to the report, holidaymakers are increasingly at risk of being swayed by fake hotel reviews on travel websites with user-generated content. From 2008, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive will make it unlawful for UK traders to falsely represent themselves as consumers but this will apply only to hotels and other businesses in the UK.

However, leading travel websites argue they are capable of regulating themselves and say the new law is unnecessary and unworkable. Many websites say they already have measures in place to prevent bogus postings and insist that fake reports are rare, and are usually discovered and removed. Many only allow customers who have booked a hotel with them to write reviews and will do a phone check on posts that are suspiciously different from the majority.

Meanwhile, half of the 75 per cent of British holidaymakers who rely on the internet to book their trips say they continue to trust online reviews, according to a YouGov poll of 2,000 adults last month, and websites say it is in their own interests to ensure reviews are reliable.

Travel websites are a fantastic resource but nothing beats a great travel agent! You should keep your wits about you and if in any doubts, call your nearest travel agents and ask their opinion.