What Happens When There Are Two Trillion Fake Hotel Reviews? A Strong Brand Reigns Supreme — Photo by Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

TripAdvisor recently announced that it blocked a record two million fake reviews in 2023, a massive 50% increase from 2022. While this creates another uphill battle in an oversaturated industry where hoteliers struggle to cut through the exponentially growing noise, it's good news for hardworking hotel owners who emphasize building their brands and creating outstanding guest experiences that translate to positive, trusted reviews.

User-generated online reviews wield considerable influence over consumer travel decisions. According to Expedia research, 49% of travelers turn to review sites during the inspiration stage, "a critical 33-day period" during which three out of five travelers surveyed didn't have a destination in mind or considered multiple destinations. One bad review is all it takes to send a potential guest down another path.

What the TripAdvisor report failed to mention was the impact of generative AI, which, within milliseconds can produce hundreds of fake reviews (and personas to post them) on TripAdvisor and across the web. While any savvy hotel can handle one bad review, what happens when there are ten, or worse, one thousand? Last year, TripAdvisor scrubbed two million such reviews, but what happens when that number becomes two billion? Two trillion? With the market size of AI compounding at 40% annually, this is our nearterm reality.

The good news? The proliferation of fake and generally low-quality, untrustworthy user-generated content is another push for hotel owners to prioritize brand-building marketing efforts that result in trusted reviews from authoritative brands, quality content creators, and comprehensive ratings systems, like The MICHELIN Key, a new award for MICHELIN Guide hotels.

According to eMarketer, 36% of marketers will increase their spending on brand marketing. The property's public-facing brand and unique value propositions are the first things guests interact with weeks, months, and even years before they check in. When hotels invest in a polished brand that makes a great first impression, they also invest in insulation from the revenue-diminishing effects of fake reviews and other untrustworthy online content.

While this shift to brand marketing is necessary, it's still challenging for the hotel industry which is often hamstrung by limited marketing budgets that pale in comparison to those of a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand, for example. But, as we move into the cookieless future, with Google set to phase out third-party cookies by Q3 2024 and targeting capabilities to further diminish in effectiveness, brand marketing is no longer a "nice to have" but a critical revenue-driving lever that can decide whether potential guests book at one hotel or another.

With the continued rise of generative AI and a proliferation of low-quality, unreliable user-generated content across the internet, implementing solutions that ensure a consistent stream of authoritative, trustworthy, and quality content will transition from a pure marketing play to becoming a cornerstone of revenue optimization.

About Curacity

Curacity is a hospitality technology company on a mission to help hotels drive demand and convert higher-value guests. Over 600 hotels, resorts, and cruises have used Curacity's guest acquisition platform to drive more than $625 million in revenue. Headquartered in New York City and Stamford, CT, Curacity launched in 2015. Curacity is among the top 10 in travel and hospitality on the Inc. 5000 list, a Best Content Marketing Platform finalist in the Digiday Awards, and the Best Tech Innovation winner in the Independent Lodging Congress' Indie Awards.