Just say the word, blackmail, and it brings to mind evil images and dark thoughts.
The definition of blackmail: ‘…the action, treated as a criminal offense, of demanding money from a person in return for not revealing compromising or injurious information about that person.’
For innkeepers today, it isn’t the demand for money. Blackmail in today’s world of social media and transparency means a threat of a bad review! Yes, evildoers with the opportunity of damaging your good reputation.
Rick and I were invited to TripAdvisor’s headquarters recently to meet with multiple groups of TripAdvisor employees in different departments. We were pleased that The B&B Team had the opportunity to represent the interests of B&Bs at these meetings.
Among many subjects discussed relating to issues B&Bs have with TripAdvisor, the issue of blackmail came up. A few years ago TripAdvisor added a way for business owners to report blackmail threats. In our canvasing of innkeepers only one innkeeper brought up this topic. I thought I would share this information for those of you who may not be aware of this tool.
As a business representative, how can I report that a guest threatened me with a bad review? “Here are some best practices for submitting reports of potential blackmail to TripAdvisor before the review is submitted.”
The key word here is before. Being proactive is important. If you get a threat, report it immediately. Save the paper trail of emails and voicemails. As much detailed information you can report, the better.
What if a fraudulent review is posted and you were not aware of any threats? This can and has happened and unfortunately can be a bit more difficult to prove. It must violate TripAdvisor’s review guidelines.
As an owner or manager, how do I report a review that violates your guidelines?
As innkeepers, working through the process of reporting blackmail or fraudulent reviews can be frustrating and time consuming. But at least there is a process with guidelines provided by TripAdvisor. And if the results end with a removal of the review, definitely worth it!
Tip: Posting a management response to a fraudulent review is also very important. Respond as soon as possible!
As an owner or manager, how do I respond to a review on my listing?
Even if you have not had a threat of blackmail or received a fraudulent review, it is a good idea to read through these guidelines. Have the knowledge before, and you have the opportunity to head the evildoers off at the pass!
Thanks for Listening,
Tags: blackmail, The B&B Team, Trip Advisor
I have never been directly threatened, but have gotten what I consider thinly veiled threats. We routinely carefully check the rooms before guest check-in, flush the toilet, test the TV, water temp etc.
Still people have come up with stories (there was something floating in the toilet or we didn’t have enough hot water to fill the large soaking tub, things that we checked out right away by running hot water only (from the 60 gal. fast recovery gas water heater that serves that room only)ourselves and using a hot tub thermometer. No problem!
They seem to be only from a certain age group (late 20’s early 30’s). After this has happened (only) a few times, I’m thinking this seems like a pattern. Dozens of others have occupied these same rooms with no problems.
Is there some kind of website that teaches people how to scam Innkeepers for a full or partial refund for made up problems?
The best is to take the lead from Trip Advisor. The links to the process in the blog. Keeping on top of your business, which you appear to be doing is the best to avoid possible threats.