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FYI - Travel Sites May Be Manipulating TripAdvisor Ratings When Embedding The Reviews

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 11th, 2019 10:30 am
Deal Addict
Oct 10, 2008
1039 posts

FYI - Travel Sites May Be Manipulating TripAdvisor Ratings When Embedding The Reviews

This post is more informational, to make sure people perform due diligence and not assume that what a website site shows is correct. I'm also not sure this is the exact right forum here for this sort of discussion/notice.

I didn't want to call the company out in the subject, but there are at least one or two sites I have seen this happen at recently. But the one I can consistently verify is Trip Central. I love this place and use them for a specific travel agent I've worked with for over 10 years now.

The reason for not placing blame is that I don't know where the change is happening at (TripAdvisor or trip central)

The specific spot, if you happen to look there, is using the embedded TripAdvisor reviews tab.

Pulled From

Note the 4.5 out of 5 total over 6121 reviews.

TripAdvisor's page is here

Which is .5 lower than what's on the TripCentral page.
ta-top of page.PNG
If you inspect the element in Chrome on TripCentral's page, by right click and inspect element, you'll get this:
<span class="hotel-img-rate" style="background-img:url(' ... 4941-5.svg');"></span>
This points to the following image: Image

The really funky thing is, if you shrink the width of the TripCentral window ... it'll show the mobile rendering and the review is 4 / 5 which matches TripAdvisor. However, this is a different element in the website but points to the same image.

Mobile Rendering with full site element:
ta-mobile image vs full site element.PNG
Mobile Rendering with the element that generates it:
ta-mobile image with element resposible for it.PNG
Note that the mobile/vertical rendering of the site points to the same image element on TripAdvisor.
" ... 4941-5.svg".

The manipulation results in the TripCentral site showing the reviews between .5 and 1 higher than what's on TripAdvisor, with an average deviation of +/-2 reviews on average. This number of reviews could in theory sway the value, but the constant and consistent increases should not happen on a small sample size like that. The changes are only ever an increase ... never a decrease.

To repeat, this was meant to be an informational reminder to perform due diligence when visiting sites.

Edit Note: I'm trying to fix the way inline images look to make this easier to view/read.