Is TripAdvisor taking bribes to remove negative reviews?

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Mar 21, 2019
I am a loyal Trip Advisor reviewer, I have been contributing to Trip Advisor's travel community for 14 years and I have written 249 reviews, that I'm sure, have contributed to the company's success.

I have recently had an experience that have made me feel very disenchanted with this 'collaborative' concept.

We recently stayed at a 5* Resort in the Philippines that cost us $400 a night. The resort in question was infested with mice and management don't seem to be able (or willing) to control it. I had a mouse drop dead on mi pillow in the middle of the night and we almost stepped on another one. I have photographs and email exchanges to prove this. I tried to resolve the issue amicably, however, the hotel's management weren't interested.

Consequently, I decided to give them a 1* review on TripAdvisor, in order to warn other travellers, but this review is forever 'pending' and doesn't seem to get published. Coincidentally, a member of our travel party, also decided to give them a 1* review, however, this review was deleted very shortly after being published.

Mice were not the only problem at this resort, there were many other wrong things with it, that's why I find shocking that being so average and so expensive, it has an average of 5* and not a single 1* review. This makes me think that there is something dodgy going on here, it seems that negative reviews are not being published or are being deleted.

I also find suspicious that being a resort with only 8 rooms, they seem to be getting constant reviews (all 5*, of course). it seems to be statistically impossible that this property with only 8 rooms can be getting so many, which makes me think that the reviews are fake and TripAdvisor staff are taking bribes to remove the negative reviews.

This is the property in question:

I have already raised an official complaint with the Philippines Tourism board but I think unsuspecting travellers need to be warned what they might be getting themselves into, isn't that what TripAdvisor is all about? I wish someone had warned me before I went there with my two small children!

I have tried to bring this up with your customer service department but I'm getting nowhere, anybody has any pointers please?


Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Personally we always advise clients not to put too much faith in TripAdvisor reviews and this is one train why.

Had they allowed true reviews perhaps you wouldn’t have stayed there.

We have company contacts for TripAdvisor, you might want to go up the chain and see what they say.

Have you tried posting on their Social Media pages?
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
Often times reviews are disallowed for content. You could post what you wrote here so we can review and comment.
Likes: jsn55
Dec 19, 2014
I know that the plural of anecdote is not evidence, but having written hundreds of reviews, I've only had 1 removed, and it was probably legitimate as the hotel got rebranded.

No one knows the inner workings of tripadvisor, but I suspect if a property complains or challenges content, then they can have it removed. But I would STRONGLY urge you not to make the allegation that Tripadvisor takes bribes to remove reviews if you choose to contact them. That is a 100% guarantee to ensure that either your letter is ignored or you receive a generic response.
Sep 19, 2015
I am not sure how you get to the idea of bribes. I looked on — where one has had to have stayed to post a review and one can only do it in a limited time.

I have used booking for small independent hotels in Italy that have no independent booking software.

The resort gets a 9.2 there and has 48 reviews. So it is conceivable that this small place has 300 some reviews.

One thing I will say that this is a remote eco stay lodge with rustic cottages. People have different expectations and tolerance for wildlife.

May I ask on what basis you are accusing the place of bribery and why you complained to the Philippine Tourist Agency?

If the hotel can show that baseless accusations of bribery have been made to the tourism authority by a former guest that would be good enough reason to not publish the review.

I had a very poor experience with a well rated restaurant in NYC — it happens but my first thought was not that all the good reviews were the result of a bribe.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
Trip Advisor is a website that offers reviews by the travelling public. Anyone can read anything, anyone can become a member and contribute their opinions. TripAdvisor's clients are their advertisers, not their properties or their readers. It is left to the reader to determine if a review is valid or not. It's a free "service".

TA is not held to any kind of standard except the common sense of its participants. I too have used TA for years, but have never had an issue. I do read many, many reviews of each and every property I'm considering. It's fairly easy to pick out the clinkers and rely on the others for advice. And if there are few reviews, I move on. I don't believe you can force an entity like TA to change the way they run their business. They're there to please their advertisers, that's it.
Mar 22, 2019
I have found in Asia more than elsewhere that TA has a huge number of "one hit wonder' reviews from people who have only reviewed a particular property. In some cases they are the result of the person offering the service or lodging having people sign up on the spot to give them the review. I assume that the others come from some kind of review mill. I took a look at the property you referenced. A quick look shows that there are an awful lot of people who provided only 1 or 2 reviews. I only trust reviews from people with at least 10 reviews. For services, I only use ones where I can actually contact people who have provided the review. Trip Advisor does not allow a review that references the fact that another property/service has fake reviews.
Likes: Chris in NC
Mar 28, 2019
Maybe sometimes, they can remove your review if you have used any abusing or prohibited perhaps in your review. Read their guidelines for more information.