TripAdvisor Disparity Index

When In Rome Tours fell six places last week courtesy of a particularly vicious ‘review’ planted on our TripAdvisor Rome page. The author didn’t even take her Vatican tour, she just couldn’t get her head around the fact that we were not able to refund her deposit the way she wanted. In the end, we bent over backwards to wire and lost money in her name by doing so. At time of writing, ten days after the fact with the same number of five star reviews newly published and said slander removed by user, we’re still six places worse off. Curious situations on the internet apart, what do TripAdvisor have to say about their flailing disparity index?


Thank you for contacting TripAdvisor.

We inform you that TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index (ranking system) is driven by the information travelers highlight in their reviews. Here’s a link to more information:

As I hope you’ll understand, we cannot divulge any specifics about how this process works, as that would reveal proprietary information which could compromise the impartiality of our system. Encouraging your guests to write a review of your establishment on TripAdvisor, when they return home from their trip, is the best way to improve your ranking.

You’ll find more helpful tips and information about our service in the dedicated Owners Support section of our Help Desk:

We remain at your disposal.

Kind Regards,

TripAdvisor Support Team

Will TripAdvisor Towers return us to our previous standing? Unlikely, but watch this space anyway…

Not a rant, just a presentation of tedium.

TripAdvisor Rome

There is so much more to the Rome tours section on TripAdvisor. First impressions would suggest that limo drivers and new tour website owners are offering tours which are better than better than perfect every time, but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the real tour agencies and travel agents in Rome – simply too busy to fight it out for top rankings on the Trip Advisor Rome popularity index – can be found on pages 3 and 4 at best. TripAdvisor members who actually review their Rome tour experiences themselves are a rare breed these days, and the website is a poorer place for it. So is the once all powerful (and respected) TripAdvisor to be trusted in 2011, if ever again? Does anyone really pay attention to reviews / comments anymore? Can a traveller rely on over 200 reviews of a Rome tours website which has only been online for 18 months?

Beset with annoying consoles landing here, there and everywhere (pop ups, to you and I), unwieldy language options and now, to top it all off, suspicious content moderation, TripAdvisor in the eyes of property owners and those of us who work our socks off in tourism has become a parody of everything a responsible, corporate travel portal should never have been allowed to become. Buoyed by free marketing and publicity by way of a few hundred thousand contributors who just love to write, and write, and write some more, it’s a sad state of affairs.

Plenty of Rome tour websites trade exclusively on the back of their TripAdvisor reputation. But what reputation? Moderation has become so desperately slack that nigh on anyone can cobble together a tours website and TripAdvisor profile with a few dozen sparking reviews to boot in a matter of weeks.

The acid test, as ever, is Google. Spend a couple of minutes there (or Yahoo!, Bing etc.) searching for the top rated Rome tour websites on TripAdvisor, to see how they fare in the real world of the search engine algorithm. If they are as good as TripAdvisor implies, they’ll have been reviewed favourably on many other websites. Independent search engines will rank them highly as a result.