TripAdvisor Flawed? Fake Restaurant Tops Rankings in Italy

Do you want to have a top ranked restaurant? Apparently all it takes is a few pictures and 10 amazing reviews to make your dream a reality at TripAdvisor.


The staff of, Italia a Tavola, a hospitality trade magazine in Italy, created a fake restaurant, “Ristorante Scaletta”, located in Moniga del Garda, in Lombardia, Italy. Then they posted bogus reviews to see if it could con TripAdvisor in order to test their reviews and rating system.

Well all it took was ten perfect-score reviews in less than one month’s time (filled with words like “Emotional” and “Finally!”) and “Ristorante Scaletta” became the top eatery in all of Moniga del Garda.

The newspaper claims that this shows TripAdvisor’s reviewing system is flawed and open to manipulation. When they contacted the business reviewing website to explain their experiment, the listing for La Scaletta was immediately removed.

TripAdvisor deny that the case suggests their system is flawed. A spokesperson for the company told The Independent: “As the world’s most visited travel site, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor provides a trusted and useful source of information for those planning a trip anywhere in the world. In this instance, we investigated and removed from the site the listing and reviews that failed to meet our guidelines.

“It is a pretty meaningless experiment to create a fake listing or reviews just to try and catch us out, since that is completely different from the fraud we see and catch on a daily basis. We know that, when fraudsters attempt to manipulate the rankings on our site, they leave behind patterns that we can and do trace.

Although fake restaurant might be rare, fake reviews are probably a bigger problem. Always make sure to check more than one source when planning a trip, especially in areas you’re not familiar with.

4 thoughts on “TripAdvisor Flawed? Fake Restaurant Tops Rankings in Italy”

  1. Yelp is obviously the go to guide for me when I’m looking for restaurants. Tripadvisor always has higher ratings for restaurants, as does google. That’s why Yelp is my favorite since it has more insightful reviews and people are a bit more conservative with their stars.

  2. Anyone who relies on Tripadvisor overall RATINGS in a vacuum is so dumb as to deserve getting less than what they may have otherwise expected. Tripadvisor is a valuable resource NOT because of its overall ratings (#1 or #24 in a city or region) but because of the insight provided by genuine reviews–which many, if not most, of them tend to be. I rely only on reviews from those with a minimum of 25 reviews and completely ignore the rest. I also review the reviewers to see what other restaurants/hotels they have reviewed to ascertain whether their tastes may or may not mimic my own. When I really have it narrowed down between 2-3 hotels (rarely do I do this for restaurants), I private message the top 5-10 reviewers for the timeframe in which I plan to visit and wait to see what responses I get. In most cases, I get a response from almost every reviewer I messaged. There is considerable value to Tripadvisor…but most are too lazy or dumb to take advantage of it.

    Tripadvisor could help matters by not including ratings from those who have fewer than 10-20 reviews in its calculations/averages for its overall rankings. It also could exclude reviews from its calculations that have trite one word or one sentence or one phrase reviews–since these and “the single review” are most likely to be the most fraudulent. If one cannot review more thoroughly, then one shouldn’t be worried that one’s review isn’t considered in calculating what are the best. If one cannot review enough properties, then your opinion isn’t considered worthy YET. It’s just that simple. Tripadvisor could also screen reviews and provide a second ranking–considering only those reviews by reviewers who have submitted 20+ reviews or whose reviews have received 5+ likes.

  3. Pingback: eBay Bucks Recap, Maximizing Discover Categories, Is TripAdvisor Flawed?, Golfmiles & Much More - Doctor Of Credit

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