The purpose behind this page is to offer the perspective of a Kilimanjaro tour operator regarding the authenticity of Kilimanjaro trip reviews that are available to read on websites that purport to offer impartial feedback from people that have climbed Kilimanjaro. The more specific provocation motivating this page however, concerns a particular Kilimanjaro review that appeared on TripAdvisor in February 2012, that seemed to have been written by someone that had climbed Kilimanjaro with Team Kilimanjaro. Those believing that the review were genuine would likely have had difficulty concluding that choosing to climb Kilimanjaro with Team Kilimanjaro would be a good decision, if the trip in question were in any way representative of Team Kilimanjaro climbs generally.
Fake Kilimanjaro Reviews
When we were alerted to the review, naively –
Finding out who writes fake TripAdvisor reviews?
The grounds of our suspicions related principally to the reviewer claiming to have climbed with us in January of 2012, and yet not having offered any corroborating information by which we could determine the identity of their guide, the date they claimed to have climbed with us, or the route they claimed to have used. Indeed, the comments were so generalised and made claims that ran so diametrically contrary to what we are used to reading from climbers about the perceived level of service that they have received from us, that we were frankly unable to believe that the review was authentic.
With these concerns in mind then, seeing it as an enjoyable challenge, two of our staff volunteered to determine the identity of the person who wrote the suspicious TripAdvisor review, since their professional backgrounds prior to joining Team Kilimanjaro lent themselves quite usefully to such an undertaking; one was a police man for 19 years during which time his duties included overseeing a criminal database (similar to Interpol’s catalogue of Red Notices), and in pursuing the criminals stored on this database; while the other has served with a British Army unit whose role is Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.
Who is Patricia Rxxx?
Their investigation concluded that the young lady who wrote the review, Patricia Rxxx (nee Culxxxx) never climbed with Team Kilimanjaro and indeed has likely never actually visited Africa. Patricia is of mixed (probably) Serbian / British extraction (with Polish and Swiss relatives), enjoys frequent travel to Australia and New Zealand, has lived both in Hove and London with her two young boys, married an Irishman named Godfrey in April 2008 (Godfrey Rxxx is Director of Marketing and Sales for an aviation technology company), and has served both as a Business Travel Consultant and Communications Manager in Brighton and London for a large international payments processing company that –
How many TripAdvisor reviews are genuine?
We have no idea, and no scientific means of approximating this, however, seeing things from within the context of a travel related service, it is clearly apparent to us that there are many Patricia Rxxxs scattered throughout the world. Indeed, we asked four members of our staff, each of whom had recently spent several days researching feedback on the Arusha hotels that we use for our Kilimanjaro climbers (in order to compile our new dedicated ‘hotels’ section on this site), by knowing what they knew of the characters and linguistic competence of the owners and marketers, to estimate the percentage of TripAdvisor reviews that they had read which they believed to be fake, and to write this figure discretely on a piece of paper, so as not to influence each others’ estimates. Knowing the people responsible for marketing these hotels and comparing what they knew of the advertising materials for each hotel with the TripAdvisor reviews that they researched when aiming to compare satisfaction levels generally with those provided by our own climbers, our staff’s estimates averaged a response of 49% of TripAdvisor reviews being fake.
Prior to this bracketing exercise, the writer had estimated that a little under 30% of TripAdvisor reviews were probably fake, and while the estimate of 49% seems much too high to the writer, nonetheless, it is evident that amongst those within the industry what is very apparent is that Trip Advisor has undeniably become abused by unscrupulous tourism business owners –
Indeed, during the course of our research into this matter, we have discovered that such seems to be the feeling amongst slandered or under-
Do TripAdvisor Employees Remove Negative Reviews for GBP 200 Bribes?
It appears that there is also evidence that employees within TripAdvisor may themselves be instrumental in either writing fake negative reviews on TripAdvisor, or else encouraging / allowing them, in the hope of coaxing business owners into pleading with them to remove these fake reviews. The modus operandi is that the business owner’s request is denied on the grounds that the original review ‘did not contradict TripAdvisor guidelines’ (or something to that effect), and so the fake review remains. Within a couple of weeks however, the business owner receives an anonymous email from a disposable email address offering to replace the fake review or reviews with positive ones. On this particular occasion, the employee in question proves his capability to deliver on the deal by subtly changing an existing review. The business owner then sends the anonymous employee GBP 200 and the fake reviews are replaced with two positive ones! For evidence of this transaction, please see here:
Do Team Kilimanjaro Write or Commission Fake Reviews for Themselves?
With respect to our suggestion that the probable majority of tourism business owners who have identified the disproportionate influence of TripAdvisor on informing prospective travellers’ decisions as to which tour operator they will contract for their holiday / safari / expedition, readers may very understandably wonder whether Team Kilimanjaro may have ever engaged in writing or commissioning fake TripAdvisor reviews promoting ourselves. While well-
Working Towards Authentic Kilimanjaro Reviews
The question arises then, as to how one may find objective and truthful reviews on Kilimanjaro and safari operators. While the solution seems still to be a few months off, we are delighted to be able to recommend the concept offered by a dedicated new Kilimanjaro Reviews website that allows all business owners in the Arusha and Moshi areas to post information about their operations and for anyone to review their services.
The significant difference with this website that sets it head-
Climbers who have climbed Kilimanjaro and wish to promote the aims of transparency and authenticity that this project represents, are therefore invited to submit their review at Kilimanjaro Review.