Today, I came across this article in NYTimes about how Tripadvisor, Yelp and such sites are having too many positive reviews of restaurants and Hotels. The problem is that many of these positive reviews are commissioned by the business owners to give their business a very positive online image. Cornell researchers are studying how to identify the fake reviews from the real ones.
For an average consumer looking for a real review, there are a couple of options. One – look for the reviews which are the most critical of the establishment. These tend to be real. Also look for pictures posted by the users along with the negative review. If you can live with these type of problems, then the restaurant or hotel is for you. If not, look for a different one.
The other strategy is to look for the most recent reviews. If the most recent review is within the last month or week, you can believe it. This might also be a commissioned review but you are looking for consistency in the reviews. So if the negative reviews and the most recent reviews match in what they like and what they do not like, you have a good idea of what to expect in that establishment. I think this is enough information to decide if you want to do business with that establishment or not.
If you have any other strategies, please post them below.