TripAdvisor has been a godsend for travellers.
There is no need to turn up at a hotel, restaurant or holiday cottage any more without a pretty good idea of what’s ahead. It might not put an end to stays in digs that would give Fawlty Towers a run for its money or restaurants that would give Gordon Ramsay nightmares - but reading multiple reviews beforehand certainly takes away a lot of the risk.
But there is a flipside to TripAdvisor and the other review sites. Plenty of small business operators will be all too familiar with the scenario. A terrible review pops up for your establishment. Maybe you remember the reviewer as being particularly awkward and unreasonable. Maybe you remember an incident they describe - but recall events unfolding in a completely different way to them.
Maybe, worse still, their review has been made up out of spite after you refused an unwarranted demand for a refund or free drinks.
Readers of these reviews should always beware and apply their own filter. One or two terrible reviews among a majority of good ones usually means the service will be good.
But the site operators also have a duty to try to weed out the outright abuse of their platforms.