Another fake TripAdvisor review scandal has broken — and this time the guilty party appears to have been busted by a Facebook app that places your photo next to your review, even if you use another name.
Calling himself the “director of propaganda,” Peter Cook worked as the director of communications of Accor Hotels for the Asia Pacific region. Whatever you call it, he was a public relations guy, working to bring publicity and new customers to his hotels.
According to the Herald Sun, Cook had a second name, Tavare, which was the name he used to post 105 TripAdvisor reviews since 2006.
Considering his employer, it could be considered a conflict of interest for Cook to publish hotel reviews, especially with disparaging comments like the one describing a competitor’s hotel as “stuck in a time warp and rather expensive.”
As a result of the scandal, TripAdvisor has now removed Tavare’s posts, telling Australian media that, “It would clearly be inappropriate for a senior executive of a hotel company to review hotels within their own company.”
But it’s obvious from other comments in threads he participated in that Cook was able to influence other travelers’ choices.
“I totally agree with everything Tavare says!” one poster commented.
Cook has confessed to his actions, saying that the posts were his personal opinions based on actual hotel stays, rather than entirely fake reviews meant to destroy rivals. However, Accor has put him on a leave of absence while they decide what to do next.
By the way, you might want to check out your own profile if you have a long-standing TripAdvisor account in a different name. Like Cook, you may find that your photo has changed to a more recent one.
In my case, I wasn’t try to hide my identity but instead chose to use a name better known to fans of my travel adventures. So I hope nobody’s too jolted by the new photo.
Peter Cook won’t be the first person whose real name is revealed by a Facebook app, and he won’t be the last.
But maybe his exposure will cut down on the fake TripAdvisor reviews — at least for a little while.
[Las Vegas hotel strip photo by Ken Walker via Wikimedia Commons]