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Trip Advisor Awards? - SCAM or NOT

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Don Draper

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Just had this email from a local innkeeper...have any of you been approached on this? First paragraph is her email to me, then the "Dear Innkeeper" bit is the company's email to her b&b.
I received a phone call from someone yesterday who said that he was calling from the Trip Advisor Award Program. My inn had received an "award." He said that Trip Advisor was offering new awards that would help promote my business. He kept dropping the name Zagat to add credibility to his promotion, saying that they were the official authorized dealer of Zagat recognition awards.


After talking to him some more, it became clear that these were not awards. He was not from Trip Advisor. His "awards" cost hundreds of dollars and all I would receive in return was an icon to put on my website and an "award" for my wall. . I think that this is fishy. Does anyone know any more about this? I'm going to paste his follow-up e-mail so you can look at it. I'm skeptical about this whole promotion and want to advise you all to be cautious about this.

[COLOR= rgb(0, 0, 255)]Dear Innkeeper,[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]First of all congratulations again on ABC Bed & Breakfast being featured with a 4 ½ star rating and being rated as one of the better B&B’s on Trip Advisor for Genericville.[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]We are currently producing new award pieces for you to display and preserve these accomplishments, show appreciation to you employees for their efforts, and serve as a reminder for your staff to take pride and continually strive to maintain the high standards which have brought you to where you are.[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]We have also launched the web award, which is a graphic replica of the award piece for you to display on your website. Generally speaking if someone is on you website chances are that they do not know you and have never stayed with you. Anyone curious about your establishment or googling looking for a new place to try will be able to view your award when they get to your website, and will therefore be that much more enticed to try you over another place. These have fantastic potential for attracting new clientele to your place, and we have been receiving a very favorable response so far. These are going to be very valuable, as they will instill trust and confidence to prospective clientele who don’t know you to come and experience your place over someone else.[/COLOR]
As far as the pricing is concerned, the awards come in three standard sizes, a 12x19 which retails at $299, a 10x12 which retails at $239 and a 6x12 for $179.
The web awards which I do recommend are featured at $179 are currently being offered for $79 as part of a package.
[COLOR= black]If you would like to see the new web award you can go to www.isabellesbeachhouse.com [/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]Click on the Trip Advisor icon. [/COLOR][COLOR= black]For some reason they expanded it, but normally it will open to the full award.[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]Please contact me at 888-272-8782 ext.318 with any questions.[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]Have a great day and I look forward to speaking with you soon.[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]Sincerely,[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]EJ[/COLOR]
[COLOR= black]EJ Ali
Senior Account Mgr.
www.IntheSpotlight.com[/COLOR]
 

swirt

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This is not a scheme from TripAdvisor. This is completely unrelated, just using the name to make you think it is legit. It is not legit. It is a scam. Avoid it at all costs.
 

egoodell

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I would say it's a scam. If Trip Advisor was going to issue awards it would be all over their website.
Riki
 

EmptyNest

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Forget it..you are PAYING for your own award! This has been going around for many years! ANYONE calling you directly is just another MARKETING SCAM...hang up on them. It is kind of like the Main Street SEO crap they try to convince you to pay for their brilliant SEO...give me a break!!!!
Anyone falling for these kind of things is a real sucker:-(
THis is not related to TA. They do their own legit awards.....but none the less...forget about it. A shallow award if you have to pay for it!!
 

JBloggs

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to.
 

SweetiePie

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Took a look at the website, apparently this isn't just for TripAdvisor but other companies as well. I guess you're paying for the laminated plaque, as well as the website logo. Most sites that issues awards don't charge you for displaying them.
 

jkarennj

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There are companies that do nothing by hunt magazines and web sites for content that recognizes small businesses for achievement. A friend of mine owns a salon in Philadelphia, and they were just featured in Allure magazine. Not long after the magazine hit the newstands he got a call from a company wanting to frame the article and have it sent to him to display on the wall of his salon...all for about $400.
Caveat emptor.
Jay
 

SweetiePie

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to..
Sorry Joe, I beg to differ. TA may not be our enemy but it certainly isn't our friend either. It has single handedly changed the whole landscape of innkeeping by introducing the rating system and themselves as the middleman, which has been copied by any number of wannabe sites out there. We needed that like we needed a broken arm. It was all a moneymaking scheme on their part. We had Frommer's and other guides before that, but without all the headeaches.
Now, in addition to all the regular innkeeping tasks; we have to deal with people threatening to blackmail us with bad reviews if we don't drop rates or cater to their other whims, competitors who can write false negative reviews we can't do anything about, or just the occasional psycho who can do the same thing.
Just because you've found a way around the system doesn't mean the rest of us have, or would want to.
 

Don Draper

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It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content. It seems like a Zagat kind of thing, just taking what's already out there and "packaging" it for you.
If you click on the TA award on the link they provide, it does not redirect you to TA, it keeps you on the Inn's web page.
 

egoodell

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It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content. It seems like a Zagat kind of thing, just taking what's already out there and "packaging" it for you.
If you click on the TA award on the link they provide, it does not redirect you to TA, it keeps you on the Inn's web page..
InnsiderInfo said:
It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content. It seems like a Zagat kind of thing, just taking what's already out there and "packaging" it for you.
If you click on the TA award on the link they provide, it does not redirect you to TA, it keeps you on the Inn's web page.
To be legal, it has to be affiliated to use their name. But I've had scammers call and email me saying they are associated with my bank, my insurance company, hey, how about the guys that call your office and say they are your printer toner supplier and ask for your serial number off your printer??
I don't trust anyone that calls or emails anymore no matter who they say they are, and especially if they want me to click on a link. No way!
Riki
 

Don Draper

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to..
Sorry Joe, I beg to differ. TA may not be our enemy but it certainly isn't our friend either. It has single handedly changed the whole landscape of innkeeping by introducing the rating system and themselves as the middleman, which has been copied by any number of wannabe sites out there. We needed that like we needed a broken arm. It was all a moneymaking scheme on their part. We had Frommer's and other guides before that, but without all the headeaches.
Now, in addition to all the regular innkeeping tasks; we have to deal with people threatening to blackmail us with bad reviews if we don't drop rates or cater to their other whims, competitors who can write false negative reviews we can't do anything about, or just the occasional psycho who can do the same thing.
Just because you've found a way around the system doesn't mean the rest of us have, or would want to.
.
I can see both sides of this. It's true that TA has been accused if some less than savory practices. I want to see a truly independent site established, not one owned by Expedia. But the nature of online reviews is GOOD...it helps stop unsavory business owners from tricking travelers. I agree that it needs to be worked with, not against.
I don't think I understand the comment about Joe having "found a way around the system"? I must have missed something in a previous discussion.
 

muirford

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It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content. It seems like a Zagat kind of thing, just taking what's already out there and "packaging" it for you.
If you click on the TA award on the link they provide, it does not redirect you to TA, it keeps you on the Inn's web page..
InnsiderInfo said:
It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content.
The award icon says 'inthespotlight . com honors the businesses featured in TA.' They are not using the legit TA logo, nor their web address, and anyone can cut and paste TA content. It is almost a guarantee that they have no blessing from TA to do what they are doing, and this is just a modern version of the scam that has been going around for years saying you've been nominated for a business award and for only $300 you can have a plague that says so.
 

SweetiePie

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to..
Sorry Joe, I beg to differ. TA may not be our enemy but it certainly isn't our friend either. It has single handedly changed the whole landscape of innkeeping by introducing the rating system and themselves as the middleman, which has been copied by any number of wannabe sites out there. We needed that like we needed a broken arm. It was all a moneymaking scheme on their part. We had Frommer's and other guides before that, but without all the headeaches.
Now, in addition to all the regular innkeeping tasks; we have to deal with people threatening to blackmail us with bad reviews if we don't drop rates or cater to their other whims, competitors who can write false negative reviews we can't do anything about, or just the occasional psycho who can do the same thing.
Just because you've found a way around the system doesn't mean the rest of us have, or would want to.
.
I can see both sides of this. It's true that TA has been accused if some less than savory practices. I want to see a truly independent site established, not one owned by Expedia. But the nature of online reviews is GOOD...it helps stop unsavory business owners from tricking travelers. I agree that it needs to be worked with, not against.
I don't think I understand the comment about Joe having "found a way around the system"? I must have missed something in a previous discussion.
.
This was originally posted under Afternoon Refreshments. You can refer back to it if you like.
Tim_Toad_HLB wrote:
"If some moron posts a bunch of false crap about your BnB I think it is within your power to call out those who have stayed with you for those "rebuttal" reviews."
We'll have to agree to disagree. I'm convinced that any review not driven of a consumer's own volition and desire to share their experience without prompting, coaching or input by the owner is a false review.
Who says all bad or even lukewarm reviews are false crap? There are times when even a great business drops the ball, or doesn't deliver what they are advertising.
It is that exact self-serving attitude and manipulation of the review process that will eventually lead to consumers not fully trusting what they read as being honest and objective.
You know, kind of like TA's motto.
"I think it makes good sense to do so. Focusing on correcting the bad guests comments should not be, however the goal, but to push the review down further in the list chronologically. I know of a few inns who have "stand by" reviewers, these are people who have indeed stayed there and will write a review at the request of the innkeeper. Nothing false about it, they stayed there and it is a legit review."
That is the epitome of what I'm referring to. TA isn't "ours" to manipulate or manage. We live in an increasingly skeptical and cynical world. The more people feed the alligator the worse it will get. Travelers use sites like TA because most believe what they read is objective and untouched by any influence or pressure coming from the owner of a business.
"The timing is what bothers you?"
No, its the obvious and strategic manipulation of the process combined with the obvious disrespect it reflects for both the consumer and one's colleagues who play by the books. After all, I thought we were all "co-workers" and part of a fraternity loking out for each other.
Why should TA or sites like it even have posting guidelines and rules if the very folks benefiting the most from its existence work hard to get around them?
"So far I have been fortunate to not have a negative review..."
And if you ever do and its full of crap or falsehoods you have the management response function to use in order to correct and refute the information for the benefit of future potential readers.
Yes I have read some managment responses to bad reviews and they make the situation worse than it already is. I reply to all my reviews and they are not coerced, thank you. If I do get a crappy false review by some moron you bet your
I will call up on reviewers who stayed with me and loved it here. Absolutely. I am not going to let some jerk blacken what we work so hard to provide here for our guests. I will not respond tit for tat to any reviewer, I will move on.
 

EmptyNest

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It HAS to be at least affiliated with TA, to be using their name, logo, web address and review content. It seems like a Zagat kind of thing, just taking what's already out there and "packaging" it for you.
If you click on the TA award on the link they provide, it does not redirect you to TA, it keeps you on the Inn's web page..
These folks will stop at nothing. THere's a reason it doesn't go to TA..because it is not a TA award. They can put anything they want on an award. If your inn is listed as # 1 for your city on Trip Advisor...they can make an award for that!!! TA doesn't have to endorse it or even like it...It is was it is. SCAM!!!!
 

Don Draper

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I totally understand that this is a bogus "award", it's something a business owner would be paying for...but does that make it a "scam"? They don't seem to be misrepresenting what they are selling, or being otherwise misleading. I'm not for or against it either way but I can see there was quite an "against" sentiment for it here, from people whose opinions I trust...so I'm just trying to understand the "why" of everyone feeling this way. Is it that we feel manipulated by TA?
 

Don Draper

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to..
Sorry Joe, I beg to differ. TA may not be our enemy but it certainly isn't our friend either. It has single handedly changed the whole landscape of innkeeping by introducing the rating system and themselves as the middleman, which has been copied by any number of wannabe sites out there. We needed that like we needed a broken arm. It was all a moneymaking scheme on their part. We had Frommer's and other guides before that, but without all the headeaches.
Now, in addition to all the regular innkeeping tasks; we have to deal with people threatening to blackmail us with bad reviews if we don't drop rates or cater to their other whims, competitors who can write false negative reviews we can't do anything about, or just the occasional psycho who can do the same thing.
Just because you've found a way around the system doesn't mean the rest of us have, or would want to.
.
I can see both sides of this. It's true that TA has been accused if some less than savory practices. I want to see a truly independent site established, not one owned by Expedia. But the nature of online reviews is GOOD...it helps stop unsavory business owners from tricking travelers. I agree that it needs to be worked with, not against.
I don't think I understand the comment about Joe having "found a way around the system"? I must have missed something in a previous discussion.
.
This was originally posted under Afternoon Refreshments. You can refer back to it if you like.
Tim_Toad_HLB wrote:
"If some moron posts a bunch of false crap about your BnB I think it is within your power to call out those who have stayed with you for those "rebuttal" reviews."
We'll have to agree to disagree. I'm convinced that any review not driven of a consumer's own volition and desire to share their experience without prompting, coaching or input by the owner is a false review.
Who says all bad or even lukewarm reviews are false crap? There are times when even a great business drops the ball, or doesn't deliver what they are advertising.
It is that exact self-serving attitude and manipulation of the review process that will eventually lead to consumers not fully trusting what they read as being honest and objective.
You know, kind of like TA's motto.
"I think it makes good sense to do so. Focusing on correcting the bad guests comments should not be, however the goal, but to push the review down further in the list chronologically. I know of a few inns who have "stand by" reviewers, these are people who have indeed stayed there and will write a review at the request of the innkeeper. Nothing false about it, they stayed there and it is a legit review."
That is the epitome of what I'm referring to. TA isn't "ours" to manipulate or manage. We live in an increasingly skeptical and cynical world. The more people feed the alligator the worse it will get. Travelers use sites like TA because most believe what they read is objective and untouched by any influence or pressure coming from the owner of a business.
"The timing is what bothers you?"
No, its the obvious and strategic manipulation of the process combined with the obvious disrespect it reflects for both the consumer and one's colleagues who play by the books. After all, I thought we were all "co-workers" and part of a fraternity loking out for each other.
Why should TA or sites like it even have posting guidelines and rules if the very folks benefiting the most from its existence work hard to get around them?
"So far I have been fortunate to not have a negative review..."
And if you ever do and its full of crap or falsehoods you have the management response function to use in order to correct and refute the information for the benefit of future potential readers.
Yes I have read some managment responses to bad reviews and they make the situation worse than it already is. I reply to all my reviews and they are not coerced, thank you. If I do get a crappy false review by some moron you bet your
I will call up on reviewers who stayed with me and loved it here. Absolutely. I am not going to let some jerk blacken what we work so hard to provide here for our guests. I will not respond tit for tat to any reviewer, I will move on.
.
Hmmm...I guess I just don't see this as "manipulating" the system. To have someone who has stayed at your property write a review is not coercion or telling falsehoods.
I have to flat out disagree with any concern regarding "...will eventually lead to consumers not fully trusting what they read as being honest and objective". Because the entire TA site is NOT honest, objective or focused on consumers. It is focused on making money for Expedia, period. Caveat emptor, imo, to the users of TA.
 

muirford

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I totally understand that this is a bogus "award", it's something a business owner would be paying for...but does that make it a "scam"? They don't seem to be misrepresenting what they are selling, or being otherwise misleading. I'm not for or against it either way but I can see there was quite an "against" sentiment for it here, from people whose opinions I trust...so I'm just trying to understand the "why" of everyone feeling this way. Is it that we feel manipulated by TA?.
InnsiderInfo said:
...so I'm just trying to understand the "why" of everyone feeling this way. Is it that we feel manipulated by TA?
I don't feel any more against this particular award just because they are using TA as their vehicle - I just am disgusted by any company that would take a $5 product and dress it up as a $300 package, then try to fool some innkeepers who think they are legitimately an arm of TA (or Zagat's, or AAA etc.). Any one of us could create the same logo and stick it on our websites where it means absolutely nothing, and we could do it for free.
ETA: And yes, I think it's a scam. They're selling you nothing, and making you pay something for it.
 

SweetiePie

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Same as AAA four-diamond award if you use their logo on anything you must pay for it. It is nothing new, they want to make money like all the rest. It is not shameless, it is a business trying to make money. Why do so many innkeepers look at everyone else out there as the enemy? TA is not our enemy, and as stated that some manipulate it for their benefit, is true, but it is there to stay and we need to work with TA not against it. Verify it and use it if you want to..
Sorry Joe, I beg to differ. TA may not be our enemy but it certainly isn't our friend either. It has single handedly changed the whole landscape of innkeeping by introducing the rating system and themselves as the middleman, which has been copied by any number of wannabe sites out there. We needed that like we needed a broken arm. It was all a moneymaking scheme on their part. We had Frommer's and other guides before that, but without all the headeaches.
Now, in addition to all the regular innkeeping tasks; we have to deal with people threatening to blackmail us with bad reviews if we don't drop rates or cater to their other whims, competitors who can write false negative reviews we can't do anything about, or just the occasional psycho who can do the same thing.
Just because you've found a way around the system doesn't mean the rest of us have, or would want to.
.
I can see both sides of this. It's true that TA has been accused if some less than savory practices. I want to see a truly independent site established, not one owned by Expedia. But the nature of online reviews is GOOD...it helps stop unsavory business owners from tricking travelers. I agree that it needs to be worked with, not against.
I don't think I understand the comment about Joe having "found a way around the system"? I must have missed something in a previous discussion.
.
This was originally posted under Afternoon Refreshments. You can refer back to it if you like.
Tim_Toad_HLB wrote:
"If some moron posts a bunch of false crap about your BnB I think it is within your power to call out those who have stayed with you for those "rebuttal" reviews."
We'll have to agree to disagree. I'm convinced that any review not driven of a consumer's own volition and desire to share their experience without prompting, coaching or input by the owner is a false review.
Who says all bad or even lukewarm reviews are false crap? There are times when even a great business drops the ball, or doesn't deliver what they are advertising.
It is that exact self-serving attitude and manipulation of the review process that will eventually lead to consumers not fully trusting what they read as being honest and objective.
You know, kind of like TA's motto.
"I think it makes good sense to do so. Focusing on correcting the bad guests comments should not be, however the goal, but to push the review down further in the list chronologically. I know of a few inns who have "stand by" reviewers, these are people who have indeed stayed there and will write a review at the request of the innkeeper. Nothing false about it, they stayed there and it is a legit review."
That is the epitome of what I'm referring to. TA isn't "ours" to manipulate or manage. We live in an increasingly skeptical and cynical world. The more people feed the alligator the worse it will get. Travelers use sites like TA because most believe what they read is objective and untouched by any influence or pressure coming from the owner of a business.
"The timing is what bothers you?"
No, its the obvious and strategic manipulation of the process combined with the obvious disrespect it reflects for both the consumer and one's colleagues who play by the books. After all, I thought we were all "co-workers" and part of a fraternity loking out for each other.
Why should TA or sites like it even have posting guidelines and rules if the very folks benefiting the most from its existence work hard to get around them?
"So far I have been fortunate to not have a negative review..."
And if you ever do and its full of crap or falsehoods you have the management response function to use in order to correct and refute the information for the benefit of future potential readers.
Yes I have read some managment responses to bad reviews and they make the situation worse than it already is. I reply to all my reviews and they are not coerced, thank you. If I do get a crappy false review by some moron you bet your
I will call up on reviewers who stayed with me and loved it here. Absolutely. I am not going to let some jerk blacken what we work so hard to provide here for our guests. I will not respond tit for tat to any reviewer, I will move on.
.
Hmmm...I guess I just don't see this as "manipulating" the system. To have someone who has stayed at your property write a review is not coercion or telling falsehoods.
I have to flat out disagree with any concern regarding "...will eventually lead to consumers not fully trusting what they read as being honest and objective". Because the entire TA site is NOT honest, objective or focused on consumers. It is focused on making money for Expedia, period. Caveat emptor, imo, to the users of TA.
.
Since Joe hasn't actually had the need to implement this system yet, I have a question. Since he apparently has this backlog of guests who have stayed there in the past but not yet posted a review, how are their reviews of stays prior to the offending guest going to push the offending review down the list?
 

seashanty

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have you been in touch with trip advisor to alert them?
notice the grammatical errors in the email .... i say scam ... BIG scam.
 

Don Draper

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I totally understand that this is a bogus "award", it's something a business owner would be paying for...but does that make it a "scam"? They don't seem to be misrepresenting what they are selling, or being otherwise misleading. I'm not for or against it either way but I can see there was quite an "against" sentiment for it here, from people whose opinions I trust...so I'm just trying to understand the "why" of everyone feeling this way. Is it that we feel manipulated by TA?.
InnsiderInfo said:
...so I'm just trying to understand the "why" of everyone feeling this way. Is it that we feel manipulated by TA?
I don't feel any more against this particular award just because they are using TA as their vehicle - I just am disgusted by any company that would take a $5 product and dress it up as a $300 package, then try to fool some innkeepers who think they are legitimately an arm of TA (or Zagat's, or AAA etc.). Any one of us could create the same logo and stick it on our websites where it means absolutely nothing, and we could do it for free.
ETA: And yes, I think it's a scam. They're selling you nothing, and making you pay something for it.
.
Ah! I'm starting to see why folks would think it's a scam...but others would simply call it good old American capitalism...as in, there's a sucker born every minute, everything has a price, and that price is whatever someone is willing to pay for it!
 

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