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Don’t Just Rely on Online Rankings to Book Accommodations: University of Central Florida Study Finds Rise in Fake Reviews


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If you’re in the habit of choosing travel accommodations based on online reviews, you may want to check with friends or family “in real life” before clicking and booking this holiday season. A recent study shows a new trend in fake online reviews. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re in the habit of choosing travel accommodations based on online reviews, you may want to check with friends or family “in real life” before clicking and booking this holiday season. A recent study shows a new trend in fake online reviews. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons


If you’re in the habit of choosing travel accommodations based on online reviews, you may want to check with friends or family “in real life” before clicking and booking this holiday season. A recent study shows a new trend in fake online reviews.

University of Central Florida’s Saba Salehi-Esfahani says many hotels and restaurants will give people who write negative reviews about them vouchers for a complimentary night’s stay or a free meal. She says this common practice is meant to discourage this type of behavior, but it might actually be driving a rise in false negative reviews on popular online travel sites.

“There is a possibility that they write the negative reviews based upon their prior experience. That they wrote a negative review and they got something for free like a voucher, a coupon, a free meal for it.”

And she says this type of behavior tends to be contagious among friends and family. Once they see one person being rewarded for this behavior, they follow suit.

“I might as well pick up the behavior and start writing negative reviews whenever I can for different companies with the hope, you know it’s like a 50-50 chance, with the hope that you might get something for free.”

In a statement, YELP said they certify only about 72 percent of the reviews on their site.

If you’d like to listen to the full story, please click on the clip above. 


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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »

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