Porthmadog hotel joins fight over TripAdvisor reviews

The Royal Sportsman Hotel The Royal Sportsman Hotel is on the main route through Porthmadog

A hotel owner joining a planned mass action against the online hotel review site TripAdvisor says people who post anonymous comments are cowards.

Louis Naudi says many reviews for his Royal Sportsman Hotel in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, are positive, but a few "malicious" ones affect his rating.

TripAdvisor said it could not comment on threatened or pending litigation.

But the website said every review was screened, and those deemed suspicious were investigated.

Start Quote

[These websites] have lost a sense of purpose and those hiding behind anonymous comments are cowards”

End Quote Louis Naudi Hotel owner

Mr Naudi, who runs the hotel with his wife Viorica, said he was unhappy with how TripAdvisor handled complaints from businesses about postings.

The owner of the Sportsman's for the past 12 years said he took it "personally" if people complained unfairly.

"We've turned the business around here, and employ 16 staff full-time," he said.

"We're in the Good Food Guide, we've got a rosette, we educate staff, sending them to college.

'Heart and soul'

"I've put my heart and soul into this, and care very much for the people that come here.

Mr Naudi said that 60% of his customers returned and he was "very upset" when he was not given an opportunity to right anything that customers felt was wrong.

He said that younger people - aged below 40 - were too quick to visit an online website such as TripAdvisor to post a negative comment whilst those "post 40-50 come to reception and we sort it out".

Louis Naudi with his staff outside the hotel in Porthmadog Louis Naudi says anonymous online comments on sites such as TripAdvisor are unfair

"How can we defend ourselves, or improve... our hands are tied behind our backs with this.

"[These websites] have lost a sense of purpose and those hiding behind anonymous comments are cowards," he added.

Since the planned mass action was revealed Mr Naudi has been speaking about his experiences across the media.

"I've had a lot of support and received e-mails from other hoteliers who did not realise they could fight back," he said.

Start Quote

We believe our more than 35m reviews and opinions are authentic and honest from real travellers”

End Quote Trip Advisor

The mass action is being put together by KwikChex, a company which monitors online reputations.

Chris Emmins, from KiwkChex, said more businesses from around the world were contacting him about the situation.

"It's over 600, from all over the world, but the scale is well into the thousands, and we are now more into quality not quantity, trying to prioritise those [comments] which are most critically damaging to businesses," he said.

Mr Emmins added that many of those were smaller business which could not afford to fight back.

In a statement TripAdvisor said it could not comment on either threatened or pending litigation but stressed there were measures in place to reassure travellers and hoteliers that it "takes its responsibility as the world's largest travel site extremely seriously".

Screen grab of the TripAdvisor website featuring the Royal Sportsman Hotel A screen grab of the TripAdvisor website featuring the Royal Sportsman Hotel

"We believe our more than 35m reviews and opinions are authentic and honest from real travellers," it said.

"If the reviews people read didn't paint an accurate picture users would not keep coming back.

"It is also worth noting that the majority of reviews posted are in fact positive, with an average rating of just under four out of five."

There are guidelines in place on what is and is not acceptable and every review is screened, with "suspicious" reviews being investigated.

Hoteliers were also given the option of posting a management response to any review on their property, it added.

The average traveller read "dozens" of reviews before booking and the advice would be to "throw out the anomalies that appear overly critical or overly complimentary".

"What is left is the collective wisdom of the community," the statement said.

We asked you for your views, and here are a selection of your comments.

I must say I have never gone wrong using TripAdvisor to check hotels and I give the site my full support - I know for a fact I've dodged some rotten hotels this way. The fact that he is using legal action is why many people 'hide' behind anonymous user names. This situation sums up why I never holiday in Britain! And actually, TripAdvisor does allow the owners to respond to comments, as I see they have.

, James D, Liverpool

Comments: Surely everyone knows that there are always some people who delight in posting 'knocking' comments. You need to form a balanced view of any internet comments on an hotel or resort. I've stayed in some of the best or most interesting hotels in the world, greatly enjoying them, but some people still posted adverse comments on websites.

, Bob Gartsdie, Llanberis

the benefits of using tripadvisor,holidaytruths,holidaywatchdog,virtualtourist,simonseeks,beachbulgaria and debbiescaribbeanresortreviews to assist in selecting hotels is immense,ignore the odd stupid review and go with the majority and you cannot go wrong.

, John Marsh, Wales

I have been to stay at the Royal Sportsman, and have to say I found it lovely! I found it on a site that offers reviews and yes I did read some of the reviews which made me anxious, however, at the end of the day it was the perfect location for my weekend away, and I decided that those who had put negative comments were either hard to please, or just being deliberately picky. I especially thought this after i had been to stay there as the food was lovely and the staff were very nice and helpful, and we had a lovely relaxing stay! review sites are good, however everyone has different requirements when they go away, therefore I say - dont take other peoples opinions to heart - as thats all they are - other peoples opinions! If somewhere meets all YOUR criteria and looks nice - give it a go - you may be disappointed - you may not!

, Ella, Chesterfield

I had the worst Ploughmans lunch I've had in my life here. I know something so simple as a Ploughman's lunch shouldn't get someone worked up - but how wrong can a place get it? To make it worse the hot roll, one of those part baked ones you get from supermarkets and finish in the oven at home, had been plonked on top of the cheese. Didn't complain to reception about a Ploughman's as assumed if they couldn't care less about turning food out like that then my complaint would lead to confrontation which I didn't want. Just decided not to go again. So, that aint anonymous, it's just the truth and perhaps the owner should consider the possibility that his establishments does have faults

, Simone Eaves, Manchester

I work for a travel company. A lot of our hotels are on TripAdvisor and people actually cancel their holiday because of reviews they have read, when in fact we use them every week and our own members of staff stay in the hotels with no problems. We have been made aware of rival hotels leaving bad reviews on each others pages as an act of desperation to ensure passengers stay at their hotels and not anybody elses. We find that people are quick to post negative comments and the positive ones are few and far between! It's becoming a forum for moaning.

, Natasha Kersey, Burton on Trent, Staffs

Sour grapes on the part of the hotel owners. To expect that 100% of comments will be positive is naive. As people are quicker to complain rather than compliment, when reviewing previous visitors comments on such sites, I look at both and tend to rate complaints at 10% of compliments (in other words I would count 10 complaints as equivalent to 1 compliment).

, Ewan Duffy, Co Kildare, Ireland

UK hotels need to grow up and perform. Almost without exception most could learn something from their customers experiences and improve on even little things. In the UK most hotels are expensive, poorly staffed and lack customer focus. The last UK hotel I visited 3 months ago should have been knocked down. Sadly arrogance and a bizarre notion of cleanliness and service doom UK hotels. Staying in a UK hotel is usually an expensive last resort that I live to regret. Not something I experience in Germany, France or Portugal where service and the customer are seen as critical elements in their success as a business.

, D Dibbens, Watlington

As a regular reviewer who posts on TripAdvisor I can understand that some posters, especially those who have had a bad experience, can be very quick to criticise and use very strong terms. The more reviews that are posted, the more likely you will see a true impression reveal itself. Improvement is also very easy to see based on aged reviews. Most reviews seem to have been written with integrity, honesty and with a target to inform. I think these business owners may be over-reacting because censorship of free speech is not the way to go. TripAdvisor gives a method whereby they can respond, what more would be required?

, Kevin Stonebanks, Basel, Switzerland

I do look at reviews but just to gain a general picture. I'm also mindful of the fact that people who have been unhappy generally tend to post articles, rather than people who've had a good experience.

, Blue Baby, London

I am a regular user and contributor on Trip Advisor and NEVER use a hotel without consulting the website unless it is absolutely unavoidable. I have found to my cost that the reviews are, by and large, entirely accurate. Whilst there are always some people who will find fault with the best establishment, the genuinely poor hotels consistently get bad scores. For one particularly poor hotel (that I had chosen on price and not consulted Trip Advisor) my experience was so bad that I vowed never to repeat the mistake and went to post my review... only to find that a previous guest had experienced almost exactly the same poor performance a couple of months previously. I could virtually have cut and paste their review as my own.. but I didn't. My experience of a couple of hundred hotels worldside is that the best hotels listen and improve and the worst don't - worse than that, they go into denial and try to shout you down.

, Malcolm Forshaw, Bath, Somerset

I ALWAYS read lots of reviews before I book anywhere, and as I have discovered to my cost, ignoring bad reviews is a mistake. I also leave regular reviews on all the hotels I stay in on Qype. I also review on Tripadvisor. I try to complain (if I have one) directly to the hotel as part of the fact finding exercise, as whether they are willing/able to help me that will feature in the review.

, Katie, Newcastle

My sister and her husband ran a hotel in the Cotswolds, and she worked like a dog to keep people happy. This, however, did not prevent people making remarks about her personally, which as you can imagine were extremely hurtful. I hope that people will listen to this guy and think twice before letting rip.

, Andrew, London

I don't trust TripAdvisor or any other online rating site. I can think of at least one hotel that had a barrage of negative comments stating it was filthy, poorly maintained, etc. when in fact it was sitting on prime property during a real estate boom; the "customers" were actually developers set on driving it out of business. When the market fell through, the comments ended. In hotels where I've stayed that were panned on these sites, I've noticed two things: 1) They are in highly competitive areas and the "customers" are actually other hotels, and 2) They are older hotels and the people making the comments are used to brand-spanking-new buildings, with all the technology updates and amenities.

, Renee, New York

I both use and write tripAdvisor reviews. None of the reviews I write are anonymous because I use my full name and most are mostly positive. There are many places that are great if they are the style that you want but would not suit everybody. Reading the comments in detail rather than just the ratings can give this understanding.

, Colin Allinson, Munich, Germany

I have left reviews on TripAdvisor, good, bad and indifferent.. However, I am always amazed to read glowing reviews of a place that I personally would never visit again. Standards vary greatly both in the accommodation provided and in what is acceptable to a guest. If people are going to leave bad reviews on the internet then they should first have made the complaint to the hotelier so that there is a chance to rectify the problem. Conversely, hoteliers should take such comments on board and spend the time improving their service - not threatening litigation against what is a very, very good travel website generally speaking.

, D Hart, Shropshire

I spent a few days recently on an estate with a choice of either hotel or self catering accommodation. I was in the latter and the standard was lovely, it had an STB 4 star rating. However, when I looked on TripAdvisor some people had really denigrated it and had posted unfair comments about the hotel staff, food etc. Some who claimed to have been in self catering said there was a lack of decent food shops in the town nearby - not true as there was a proper butcher, fishmonger, deli with loads of local produce, plus a large Co-Op local. It's just that there was nothing for people whose whole shopping experience involves a trip to Tesco. It made me feel quite bad to be honest - I'm quite fussy and will be happy to go back there.

, Linda, Fife

I stay at hotels 7-8 times a year (multiple trips around the UK, Italy, Belgium and France so far this year) and always read reviews before booking. I discount mad enthusiasm just as I discount crazy vitriol. But most reviewers err on the generous side. So many hotels have unfriendly, unhelpful, offhand staff, so many are dirty and badly-equipped... I won't even start on the powered orange juice etc at breakfast... Frankly, they deserve everything they get on the review boards.

, Sam, France

I know this hotel, they don't know me. The majority of the Trip Advisor comments are correct. The staff are well trained, polite and helpful and some are really great personalities. The place is clean to a tee. Even the car park. The food is exceptional and I use the hotel as a safe place to meet and entertain at lunch times and occasionally in the evenings. I am a hotelier and just accept that these days unfortunately, all kinds of 'haven't got a cluers' have access to public forums and just waste their time and everyone else's abusing such facilities. The Royal Sportsman - full star rating, well done.

, Martin Roberts, North Wales

Sites like virtualtourist have extensive profiles showing how many reviews a person has written, where else they have traveled, all the other things they have written, where they live and often extensive profiles that allow you to understand a lot about the person and most importantly if they are legitimate or not. A review by a person with no information about themselves and only a single review can simply be ignored. That's easy to do and is no different from getting opinions anywhere else.

, Robert Arexamian, Bishop, California

I have worked for years in a small hotel in Crete and although the vast majority of our guests are happy with their stay and return year after year, I have watched our rating on Trip Advisor slowly slip from No. 1 in resort to No. 13. One of the reasons for this is that satisfied guests are not as quick to write a review as the odd one or two who are dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction may have nothing whatsoever to do with the hotel and can be caused by anything from bad weather to a row with their partner, but it has a negative effect on their holiday experience and is reflected in the subsequent review. Also, the rating system on Trip Advisor is such that a mediocre hotel with just one review can automatically be rated as No. 1 in resort if that single review is excellent as they will be considered to have achieved maximum marks on 100% of their reviews - all one of them!

, LAL, Crete

I read this website before I make a booking and take the comments on board - even unfavourable ones. One person's bad experience is not everyone's view or enjoyment of this or any other establishment. People will complain of all manner of things just for the sake of a moan rather than provide an objective overview. Unfortunately there are those establishments which do fall well short of standards. They rightly deserve to be bought to our attention, just as we like to hear about those that provide outstanding service.

, T Jones, Swansea

I think Tripadvisor offers a great service to travellers. My husband and I always use it to check out holiday accomodation before traveling, however we always read a few reviews and try to get the overall picture. For example if all the complaints are about the same thing eg the noise from other rooms then we take note. If you just read one complaint about eg food when everyone else is happy with it then we don't take it seriously. A little bit of common sense is all thats needed!

, Joanne Lewis, Barmouth

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