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How Fake Online Reviews Are Impacting the Travel Industry

A new study by CHEQ and the University of Baltimore, called “The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet: Fake Online Reviews 2021” found that fake online travel reviews will directly impact $4.1 billion in consumer spending this year alone.

The report was created with CHEQ, the leader in customer acquisition security (CAS) and Professor Roberto Cavazos, Executive in Residence in the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business.


Around 89 percent of consumers rely on consumer reviews, influencing almost $4 trillion in online spending. How many of these reviews that we rely on to book hotels, choose destinations and restaurants, and purchase products are fake, either written by liars or bots? At least 4 percent, influencing around $21.2 billion in purchases across all categories of e-commerce.

Major review sites differ in their specific percentage of fake reviews. Around 8 percent of Yelp’s reviews are fake; the largest percentage across the top four review sites. It’s followed by Trust Pilot at 5.7 percent, Trip Advisor at 0.6 percent and Amazon at less than 1 percent.

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While fake reviews are typically written by humans, bot-filled reviews are more prevalent on travel sites, which is why some sites have you as the user prove you’re not a bot.

“Given the size of the market, the ease of entry and the immediate economic benefits, bad actors remain highly incentivized to engage in fake reviews in sectors such as travel,” said Professor Roberto Cavazos. “This complex market is adversely influencing our purchases, causing significant economic detriment, creating real revenue losses for businesses, and severely diminishing trust in online purchasing.”

The fake online reviews and the tendency of consumers towards distrusting online reviews is another great reason why travelers should book with a travel advisor.

Besides watching out for scams and providing travelers with the latest health and safety information, travel advisors have the best resources at their disposal and should be able to save travelers from making the wrong decisions based on online reviews.

If an advisor hasn’t been to the destination or the accommodations a traveler is considering, they know where to find the best information available, and it’s usually a travel advisor portal or an official website. While the Internet is a great resource, human contact is still the best method of finding information when it comes to traveling, especially with a travel expert.

To read the full report, please click here.

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