The Curious Case of the Disappearing TripAdvisor Reviews

By now, you’ve probably read all about our plum awful destination wedding week at Bahama Beach Club in Treasure Cay. If this is your first time landing here and you have no idea what I’m on about, check out this article for some background. Get popcorn and a drink before you settle down though – it’s movie-quality drama!

My job as a communications consultant and writer requires that I travel often, so I use TripAdvisor on a near daily basis as I plan my globetrotting adventures. I’ve always trusted the site as my last look before I confirm a hotel or excursion. It’s easy enough to take a holistic glance at all the reviews while mentally filtering out any outliers – overly exuberant reviews or obviously fake negative ones – to come up with a credible concept of what to expect at a property.

But how credible is that picture? After my experience in the past month, I’m not so sure.

Back when Rick and I were researching wedding venues, we read through Bahama Beach Club’s reviews on TripAdvisor and found that they were almost all glowingly positive. Between those reviews, our in-person visit and the promises received from management, we were convinced we’d found a gem in the Abacos, ready to accommodate our world-traveling guests for a relaxing week of luxurious fun. I even wrote a review about the property back in March. Glowing.


When it all went wrong upon arrival, we patiently awaited resolution from management. An apology, an explanation that wasn’t a boldfaced lie about a hurricane that didn’t hit, a refund for paying guests who came from so far to experience a luxury vacation… something that any luxury resort worth the designation would know to do automatically. If you’ve read the original blog post, you know we’re still waiting.

Back from the honeymoon, it became clear we’d never see a dime (aside from the $1,700 for the rehearsal dinner next to an empty pool) for our troubles, so I did what every hardworking American does when faced with travel fraud – I turned to TripAdvisor, trusted friend and consumer advocate, to tell our story.

I spent days carefully writing out the details of the debacle in a fair, but obviously, 90% negative 2,100 word review of the hotel’s service, amenities, wedding offerings and our overall experience. I attached a plethora of photos to give weight to my words.

Six other guests followed suit, highlighting their individual concerns as paying hotel guests. My mom’s review posted on TripAdvisor first, followed by mine, with others trickling in over the ensuing weeks.

Craig Roberts Bahama Beach Club Review Tripadvisor Destination Wedding Treasure Cay



My mom’s post quickly received a rude, condescending response from the owner, filled with nonsense about Hurricane Joaquin, the storm that wreaked havoc 300 miles away, 16 days prior to our arrival and was a non-issue in Abaco.


One submitted review, from my travel writing colleague Kristin Luna, was rejected over and over again. Kristin tweeted and emailed TripAdvisor to find out why in the world her honest review was randomly rejected, and she never heard a peep back. This is not her first time submitting a review – as you can see, she’s a TripAdvisor veteran. After diligently editing and resubmitting multiple times, TripAdvisor finally published her thoughtful review of the property.


Two other reviews from guests were never published on the site at all, despite multiple edits and resubmissions.

So, the whole process was weird and time consuming and annoying. Usually it’s painless to post a review on TripAdvisor, but for some reason, we hit roadblocks and it was a much greater challenge to share our story than it’s ever been before.

Weeks after the 5 approved reviews went live, Craig responded to each one with a copy of his laughable note from weeks before, only this time he highlighted all sorts of free stuff we supposedly received. Golf carts and free rooms and food and fun! Hilarious since we most certainly didn’t receive what he claims.


If a hotelier bought you some free drinks and loaned you one golf cart in place of your expensive, classy wedding and family vacation, would you call it even? Of course not.

And yet he gets away with lying on TripAdvisor about what really happened. Since TA doesn’t allow for back and forth, his response, no matter how false, stands in perpetuity.

Now this is where the real mystery begins.

Just a few hours after the owner responded to our handful of negative reviews, ours and several more disappeared from TripAdvisor.

Poof! A novel’s worth of cautionary words from paying customers, gone. Not unlike all the money we spent on our supposedly luxurious vacation at Bahama Beach Club.

Miraculously with the negative reviews gone, Bahama Beach Club’s rating went from last to No. 1 on the island. Peculiar, no?


From 154 reviews to 146 in a matter of minutes…

What possible explanation could there be for the sudden removal? Something made TripAdvisor take them down; they didn’t just disappear on their own.

Could Bahama Beach Club be paying TripAdvisor to remove all those reviews? No, it couldn’t be. TripAdvisor has always been a trusted resource in the travel community and it would be a game-changer to find out that hoteliers can click a button, or worse, open their wallets, to have unwanted reviews taken down.

It could not be. I couldn’t accept it.

Then again… we did provide photographic proof with our reviews of all the construction and my review had hundreds of “helpful” votes – TripAdvisor’s own internal rating system. Wouldn’t TA side with the consumer in that case, particularly with all the evidence at hand?

TripAdvisor doesn’t just randomly remove whole batches of reviews without a cause, so let’s presume Craig the Owner reported our reviews as inappropriate in the hopes of having them scrubbed. I’m certain most hoteliers would like to report negative reviews on TripAdvisor and have them rapidly evaporated, but wouldn’t that defeat the whole purpose of the site?

It appears that the TripAdvisor staffer who removed our reviews had to have seen all those photos, many reviews corroborating the story and all those helpful votes, and ultimately decided to remove all of them at once anyhow. Why would they side with the hotelier in a clear-cut situation like this?

If Bahama Beach Club did have something to do with the removals, how far would they have to go – or how much would they have to pay – to make it worthwhile for TripAdvisor to take all those honest reviews down?

And what if other similar reviews from brides and unhappy vacationers have been removed at Bahama Beach Club’s insistence in the past? Those reviews surely would’ve prevented us from wasting our wedding week, the vacations of our loved ones and tens of thousands of dollars had we seen them.

TripAdvisor just couldn’t be letting me down… could they?

All this speculation had my mind racing down a very dark path, so I reached out to TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Communications, Desiree Fish, for some answers. I recounted our sad wedding tale and she directed us to customer service.

If your reviews are ever removed, and you’re ever diligent enough to follow up, be warned! You will have to jump through serious hoops to get seriously convoluted answers. For example, customer service asked my mom the number and title of her review. Now how would she know? It was deleted! (I managed to grab a screenshot from a cached page after the fact and eventually we found her review.)

Some of us were eventually told why our reviews were taken down after much back and forth. Are ready for this?

Mine was supposedly removed for implied profanity.

Have you ever read anything profane in the millions of words I write each year? I’m the girl who says “shucks” and “darn” and spells a$$ with dollar signs. Maybe the TripAdvisor staffer who deleted my review assumed that, given all we’d been through during wedding week, I was potentially cussing the hotel in my mind. Is that implied profanity? Is TripAdvisor in the business of knowing what specific words I’m implying now? They just might be profane!

Another guest had her review removed because of “hearsay.” In her original review, she spoke of the roaches her husband had encountered in the condo. But since she didn’t technically see them herself, the roach situation was hearsay. Seriously?

My mom’s review was removed because she quoted the Bahama Beach Club website in her review, namely, all the amenities that were advertised and yet not available to us during our vacation. So you can’t hold the hotel accountable for what they promise on their website?

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.34.00 PM

Let’s get real – I’ve never known TripAdvisor to be so nitpicky in my years of using and reviewing hotels on the site. I’d never had any of my past reviews rejected, or later removed, nor has anyone else I’ve polled. Now suddenly all our reviews were taken down for the most ludicrous of reasons. I can only hold out hope for so long…

Desiree Fish, from TripAdvisor, sent the following in response to my questions about the rationale for taking down all our reviews, “TripAdvisor only removes content from the site that does not meet the content policy and hotels cannot remove content from their listings. Suspicious content can be reported by anyone in the community, including the owner. If content has been reported by the community, it is reviewed by a specialist to ensure that it meets our content guidelines. For privacy reasons we do not disclose the reporting of content or who reported it.”

It just doesn’t add up, y’all. Fudge.

I edited my 2,100 words and armed with a heap of new knowledge about what we’re dealing with down in Abaco, I resubmitted a 2,700 word review to TripAdvisor. Several days later, it went live. You can read it here. For now. My new review elicited a charming response from the owner.


I think I spot some hearsay, TripAdvisor! Among other lies so egregious I can’t help but laugh. TripAdvisor allows owners to respond to reviews but guests can’t reply, so now Craig is defaming me publicly and outright accusing me of extortion. Fortunately I have a platinum reputation, thick skin and a mountain of evidence. The only way I’m the unscrupulous one in this equation is if you do math the way Craig does.

I’ve worked very hard in my career to become a trusted voice in the travel industry and readers know they can come to me for the honest truth about every place I visit. While it’s clear the owner will never admit his behavior has been unacceptable, I have a responsibility to let other travelers, and especially those planning a destination wedding, know just what they’re getting into if they book at BBC.

But what about all the consumers who don’t have a voice?

What about all my loved ones who paid a fortune to make this trip happen and then Mr. Rich Hotel Owner gets his way and his money in the end and their opinion means nothing? As with many consumers who find themselves the victim of a bait-and-switch, TripAdvisor becomes the only way to warn others and prevent them from experiencing the same fate. When the bully is stomping his feet and threatening to fight, TA should be standing up for the little guy – or at least allowing the little guy to participate in the fight.

I’m not sure if that’s happening anymore.

We can never really know what goes on behind the scenes, but something sure seems fishy, and it just adds to the absurdity that has been this entire wedding process.

Do you use TripAdvisor? Have you ever posted a negative review and had it removed? I’d love to hear your stories. Maybe this has only ever happened to those of us represented here, but somehow I doubt it.

3/1/2016 UPDATE: Thank you to all of you who’ve shared this article and made it one of my most popular posts in history! And to all who shared the Medium article, What You Don’t Know About TripAdvisor. It sheds so much light on what’s going on at the company, and really explains how we’ve ended up in this situation. Take a look to be enlightened!

3/9/2016 UPDATE: Check out this comment from reader Tony about how the owner at Bahama Beach Club is working to get our reviews removed behind the scenes. Think that says it all, doesn’t it?

TripAdvisor Review Craig Roberts Bahama Beach Club Treasure Cay

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161 thoughts on “The Curious Case of the Disappearing TripAdvisor Reviews”

  1. YES! I always wonder about trip advisor now. A friend of mine wrote about what a terrible trip that collectively, we had as a group. We went to the Be Live Collection in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We were so disappointed and the review was a long one. Needless to say, my friend’s review was removed due to “hearsay.” I would love to tell you all about our experience, but I guess that would be considered “hearsay.” So frustrating!

    1. Yes! Funny how when it’s a positive review, they approve it right away and when it’s negative, it’s “pending” for ages and then often mysteriously disappears, right? I mean, my positive review could be hearsay for all they know, but slap five stars on it, and they approve without a second thought.

      1. Thanks for this really insightful review comments about tripadviser….i think the only thing you are missing is the possibilty that are finacially in bed with the same institutions they are supposedly critiquing…the only liabilty they are concerned about is their bank accounts! Wake up people! They are no more an adviser than your neighborhood used car salesman.

      1. Angie
        I had submitted negative review of a vacation lodging that had been already been posted by Trip Advisor way back on October 17, 2013. I even had a picture to prove my point. I was getting likes on my post, the last count being 7 likes. Then when I rechecked the lodging on Trip Advisor, my 3 year old review had magically vanished. And now that same lodging was getting glowing reviews. Nothing in my review was hearsay and it was getting a lot of likes.

        I found that very disturbing. So I’ve tried repeatedly to contact Trip Advisor but have been unsuccessful in all my attempts to contact them. I even resubmitted my review but Trip Advisor must have it filtered somehow because it never posts. The picture of the semi truck still remains.

        The lodging that ruined our vacation was Olde Homestead Suites in Ronks, Pa. They are on Rte 772, heavily used by semi trucks all night long. We were unable to sleep as a result. In the morning, my husband attempted to shower but the water in the shower was rising. We then tried food in a chafing dish but the cold eggs were runny with white liquid. And raspberries with white mold.

        I think people need to be warned.

    2. I think they sell rooms now. Perhaps that has something to do with all of this. Used to be they claimed since they didn’t sell rooms they were neutral.

    3. TA has been cancelling my honest reviews over and over again. All are firsthand, polite yet critical of poor food or service. Is TA paid by the establishments to remove unfavorable reviews?
      After writing a review it is stated as “pending” then it disappears without any notification from TA.
      I have tried this numerous times and the same happens: they delete 1 an 2 star reviews that are correct and polite and follow all guidelines for writing revies.
      I do not trust TA.

    4. recently I wrote a negative review about Dubai spice souk. it got 50 helpful votes jnstantly. TA removed my review and sent me this email:

      Hi Raihan K,

      We believe in “The Right to Write”, and before we can publish your review, we need you to make a change or two.

      We noticed, based on your text, that your review for Dubai Spice Souk may not have the correct rating selected.
      Here’s how our 1-to-5 ratings system works:

      5 means excellent and is our highest rating 1 would be terrible and is our lowest.

      Since this rating affects the overall ranking of the business, we have decided to remove your review from our site. Unfortunately, we’re unable to change the rating once it has been submitted with a review. We hope you consider resubmitting your review with the correct rating?

      The text of your review is included below to make this easier, just copy and paste into a new review for Dubai Spice Souk

      Your updated review will help fellow travelers plan and book their next trip!

      TripAdvisor Support Team

      P.S. Make your review even better by checking out our Tips for Writing Helpful Reviews.

      Dubai Spice Souk


      got ripped by a innocent looking shopkeeper


      the souk is a historical place. lots of herbs, spices but we were cheated by this Afgani shopkeepers. he charged us more than double for the saffron and date cookies. I trusted them but got fooled.

      we also did our own sand glass souvenir — got to see how they really make it.

      adding some of the pics from that cheater’ s shop. watch out for rippers like him….


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  2. Having been an Angie Away reader (and fan!) for years, viewing your last few months’ entries on your experience with the Bahama Beach Club saddens and outrages me! And now my beloved Trip Advisor?!

    I am angry for you and so disheartened that this unnecessary journey has tainted your special day in a location that I know you love dearly. Let this be one (huge!) opportunity the Lord has given you to practice all the spiritual gifts. Because you and I know, sister, eternal justice always prevails!

    Keep your spirits up and let 2015 off with the wind!

    1. Oh girl! My spiritual gifts are definitely being utilized and tested in this season of shenanigans. Patience, forgiveness, mercy… the Lord is working on me =) Glad to see you’re doing so well!

  3. Well, technically the “do the math” answer does not meet tripadvisors’ policies, it’s unprofessional, goes against your personal reputation, your privacy and more… so I just sent a request to review/delete the answer. Let’s see what happens.

    1. Thank you for reporting it, Leticia! A week & dozens of reports against his response later, it’s still up! And now he’s posted it on other negative reviews, too. The fun & games continue!

      I appreciate your support so much!

  4. So NOT COOL. And gee, I wonder who reported all those reviews for “hearsay,” hmm? That’s really unfortunate, and I would be livid if I were in your shoes.

    I very rarely put any stock in TripAdvisor reviews any more for this very reason. I still sometimes will check the site before I book something, but I almost always rely on reviews from other sources first. TA has just become too shady for my taste.

  5. It’s so disheartening to read that this kind of crap is still continuing from that resort and its management. I had a short stint as a hotel manager here on the island I live on, and I learned a lot about TripAdvisor that makes me no longer trust it. Businesses can pay TA more to receive better rankings, higher placement on the pages, etc. Not very fair in my opinion. There are always people who ruin TA with their own methods too – a local hotel owner here is notorious for paying guests $500 to remove bad reviews, and having staff and family members write glowing reviews after receiving bad ones. I still use TA but I don’t hold it in the regard I used to.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Rika! It’s amazing what lengths hoteliers will go to for good reviews. The power of TripAdvisor is a real thing… that is, unless we stop using it. Appreciate you!

  6. Two years ago I posted my first-ever negative review on TripAdvisor — it included no bad language, I simply stated what my experience was at a really bad hostel in Australia — and it was immediately taken down. I re-wrote the post with even less strong language, but it was never posted. I followed up with TA and they said they were not at liberty to tell me why it had been taken down. Since then, I noticed that only about half of my TA reviews actually make it onto the site, and sometimes the photos I included are missing when the review goes up — it should be noted all of those were 5-star reviews for places I thoroughly enjoyed. So that makes me wonder if TA decided to flag my account based on that one bad review I wrote two years ago? My experience made me lose confidence in TA as a trusted review site; now I take everything I read on there with a grain of salt. I’m glad you’ve shed light on their somewhat sketchy system because I find that TA’s reputation gets more credibility than it deserves.

  7. Oh Angie, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this (even more so that it keeps continuing). It’s too bad that out of all your wonderful travel experiences, it was your wedding that endured these terrible circumstances. I really hope you get it all figured out. You have built a really good name for yourself in the industry, they messed with the wrong woman! Wishing you all the best in this situation!!

    1. You are too sweet – thank you so much for your kind words & for helping me get the word out. As long as this doesn’t happen to any other brides, I’ll be satisfied!

  8. that’s absolutely insane!! Wow! I read your post awhile back about the insanity around your wedding and felt SO bad for you. What a way to ruin someone’s wedding, especially one where you expected it to be the perfect location and you had so many family and friends fly down for it. Absolutely disgraceful, particularly since they are responding with lies on your reviews. Glad you are bringing this into the light and calling them on their lies, though. Hopefully they will not get any more business after this.
    That’s a shocker about Tripadvisor though. I’ve been writing/reading reviews on it for years and it’s one of the first sites I go to when planning a trip, so if they are getting paid to delete bad reviews that will in fact affect their credibility. I am now wondering how much I should trust the reviews on there if that’s the case? Crazy!
    Thanks for sharing and letting us know, and I’m so sorry for everything you’ve had to go through. Especially for your wedding!! Ugh.

  9. Whoa, that is seriously sketchy!! Like you, I’ve always used TripAdvisor when travel planning and also write reviews on occasion. I had noticed that TA ratings skew significantly higher than Yelp, e.g., if a business has 3.5 stars on Yelp, it probably has 4 on TA. I always chalked it up to a different user base and TA being more vacation-oriented than Yelp and maybe people are happier on vacation? Or something like that. But maybe it’s really a result of disappearing negative reviews. That is incredibly disappointing, both that your reviews disappeared and that you got such a ridiculously unsatisfactory response from management. I will definitely take TripAdvisor reviews with a grain of salt now (even more than I did already, anyway) and hope you’ll be able to bring them enough bad publicity that they re-think their policies. So sorry that your wedding nightmare continues!

  10. That’s unbelievable! I’m really disappointed to hear that about TripAdvisor and just blown away at how rude that resort guy was! Ugh! I’ve written reviews on hotels I’ve stayed at and tried to add in a link to a lengthier review on my blog. A couple times its gone through but other times they block it. Not cool.

  11. WOW. This is so disappointing. I’ve always counted on TA and what a bummer that they’d be so shady, too… I’m glad you’re speaking out!

  12. I am so angry for you! I don’t know how you stay so composed… And TA taking reviews down is super shady but I’m no surprised. Sorry this put such a cloud on your wedding … but you’re happily married and he’s the one who has to lose sleep over what a slimebag he is. (please don’t delete my comment for saying slimebag… its was the PG version of what I wanted to type) 😉

    1. Slimebag may get flagged on TripAdvisor, but not here. Mwahahaha! Appreciate you reading & helping me get the word out about this disaster. Don’t want any other brides to waste their wedding week on this place!

  13. Wow, this is seriously dodgy sounding! I always check out Trip Advisor before booking a hotel, just to get an overall idea of what the place is like – I was browsing reviews earlier this week actually – but this seriously makes me question how reliable the site is now for travellers. It does make you wonder how many people this has happened to before, but who didn’t have a voice or a platform to make it known to a wider audience. Good on you, Angie, for not giving up in this saga!

  14. I hope that Elliott and Clark Howard both pick this up. The whole situation is ridiculous and I feel so badly that all of this happened to you for your wedding, but this Tripadvisor thing just takes it over the top. I own a business that is registered on TA, so I can tell you a little bit about how it works. We have the ability as owners to “Report a Review.” There are specific things that we can report. The list is: Problem With Review, Report Fraud, etc. I’m sure that in your case, they were saying that there was a “Problem With Review” and then stating that the review violated Tripadvisor Guidelines. These are the guidelines:

    On the business end, I’ve found that TA takes quite a while to respond to owners. For example, it took them almost a full month to get my business profile listed. So, my guess would be that the moment one of your group has written a comment, the owner has flagged it. I do think you should talk to Elliott and Clark Howard about this.

    Relatedly, TA recently did an update where they started pushing down small businesses and pushing up large businesses/iconic attractions in the rankings, EVEN THOUGH those attractions have less good reviews. For example, if you look at Atlanta, the Beltline trail is listed as the #22 thing to do in Atlanta though it only has 94 4 1/2 starred reviews, while walking tours which has around 400 5 star reviews is ranked as the #29 thing to do in the city. So, I wonder if they are pushing down your reviews because this hotel is considered an “iconic” hotel that Tripadvisor wants to push up. Or, perhaps they are moving toward the Yelp model, which I think is sad because I don’t find Yelp to be as accurate as Triipadvisor.

  15. Angie! I feel like the universe is just throwing you more content for your book at this point because this is BEYOND RIDICULOUS! Thank you a million times for warning us about Trip Advisor. I use it all the time, among other sources, but still… I will never look at a review the same way again. This whole situation just makes me furious (is that word too strong?). I am sending you all the good vibes so that you can sail smoothly into 2016 with all of this nonsense behind you.

  16. Your news and the comments on your post are shocking to me! I foolishly never assumed that TA would remove negative posts! However, when I think about it; most of the posts I read on there are positive. This is actually strange considering there are nay-sayers on the internet even if the hotel is wonderful there should still be a lot of annoyances which you don’t really see that much.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I’ll definitely use TA much less in my future travel planning!

  17. I have used TripAdvisor for many years (my profile says since May, 2006!). I not only use it for the reviews, but I’ve also booked several vacation rental homes and hotels directly through TripAdvisor. It’s my go-to site when looking for accommodations.

    I once had a review rejected on TripAdvisor. The owner was furious with my truthful report of their awful trolley tour and reported it. My review was then rejected and deleted from TA. I was alerted to this so I deleted the “hearsay” sentence (I’d said something snide to the effect of, “they stated this was Broadway-caliber, but I don’t think they’ve ever been to Broadway”) and TA then approved and posted my review, which is still up there.

    Of course, the owner of the tour made a bunch of untruthful comments in his reply. And that was when I first began despising that the owner/manager of an establishment can always have the last word on TripAdvisor! I really dislike that the owner/manager can state outright lies, but reviewers have no chance to refute those lies!

    I hope TripAdvisor makes it right and posts everyone’s reviews about Bahama Beach Club. As it stands now, I feel very negatively towards TA and don’t want to book hotels/vacation rentals through them in the future.

    (Also, who is this mystery bride who was there the same week as you and had no complaints???!?!? I have a dirt patch she can honeymoon in in my backyard. I’ll even throw in some construction materials if she pays me enough!)

    1. OH! And did you notice that the only other 1-star review currently published on TripAdvisor about Bahama Beach Club is one from way back in 2007 that talks about how their very condo was under construction and, despite lots of communication with the resort in advance of their arrival, they were never informed that the place was under construction?!

      Years and years later, seems nothing has changed with Bahama Beach Club’s Standard Operating Procedure of lying to their guests/future guests.

    2. That’s one thing I don’t like about it either, the owner can write anything as a reply and as long as it looks good for people reading the reviews, it generally makes the reviewer look bad instead. I’m not sure if this will help, but maybe you can do a ‘new’ review and make reference to the owners reply to your (older) review. Though maybe TA won’t publish it then…esp now that I see they are more particular about which reviews they allow to be posted.
      I’ve been using TA since about that long, too, and now I’m wondering if I can even trust it anymore. It’s crazy!! Too bad because I use it to plan my trips so much!!

  18. This is so sketchy. That’s insane that removing negative reviews can drive this shady beach club up to No. 1 on TripAdvisor. Craig Roberts also saying that the Hurricane caused damage when it didn’t (and mentioning that 40 people were killed) is just downright unethical. He’s demeaning the lives that were lost as an excuse to give sub-par service for a wedding.

    I’ve started seeing more and more shady practices with TripAdvisor that I don’t feel it can be trusted as much as it once was.

  19. WOW! I am truly shocked. About Bahamas Beach Club, yes, obviously. But moreso about TripAdvisor. This is just all too suspicious. Sounds like TripAdvisor sold out for the cash. I won’t be using them anymore. Sorry to hear about your awful experience, Angie. Was brought here from Alex in Wanderlands blog.

    1. Hey Rachel, welcome to Angie Away! I wish you’d found me under happier travel circumstances, but thank you for popping over from Alex In Wandlerland. She’s the best =)

  20. We spent a year travelling and used trip advisor but had a system where we only booked hotels between 20-30 ranking. There were negative reviews but also positive ones. On balance we were lucky in our accommodation. I wrote over 500 reviews since 2008 and while a few have disappeared they have kept the negative ones up. Nowadays we usually try Airbnb first before a hotel or B&B. I think with any organisation driven by reviews you have to be careful and for trip advisor always look for reviewers with more than 20 reviews. The owner or manager of the resort sounds a piece of work and you should report him to any tourism authority on the Island.

    1. Hey John, thank you for weighing in! I did report him to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, and they attempted to contact him. He refuses to return emails or voicemails left by tourism officials. It’s pretty crazy!

  21. WHAT! I didn’t know this could be that bad. I HAVE known about reviews made by “customers.” As a freelancer I have been offered jobs to write reviews for companies on TripAdvisor and the like without any experience with their product or service. They wanted to pay me to write reviews for them, obviously positively glowing reviews. Again- I never used their product or service.

    This was of course a no brainer, I declined the work. but ever since I found out that people do that, I haven’t trusted TA. But at least it wasn’t TA’s fault.

    THIS…. omg. Why? How?! So many questions… How obsured. TA should be a platform, and that’s it. There’s no need to regulate that heavily on false and silly grounds. Sorry to hear about the wedding mess. 🙁

    HEY! Some awesome hotel out there… Sponsor Angie a new wedding please! 🙂

  22. Yes I’ve had similar experiences – all good reviews approved and although I’ve only ever written a couple of bad ones, they have been deleted. I am convinced that yes, while the hostels can request their removal, they they are mostly removed because Tripadvisor is a major affiliate of all the hotel/hostel booking sites, and with bad reviews, people are less likely to click through to book. It shouldn’t be, but I am sure this behaviour is all about money. I take reviews on there with a pinch of salt.

    I’m sorry you had a bad time, and still, congratulations on getting married!

  23. First I find out Yelp will begin accepting payment to move up the line and now this?! I’ll never trust TripAdvisor again. And I travel for a living. Such a shame when truth gets concealed for $. Thank you for sharing this!

  24. Yes these site are all slanted toward the paying customers. While I don’t know how trip advisor works exactly, I deal with Angie’s List very often. On Angie’s list the companies pay for the order they show up in searches and little side bar ads, yes that’s right the searches are not in alphabetical order or by ranking. I’m sure trip advisor charges the vacation destinations in a very similar manor i.e. To have premium listings, include additional media, ads, etc. The price the companies pay for these services dwarfs what users “pay” on a pay per click ad revenue system or in Angie’s list case membership fee. This means the companies have sway and can stomp their feet and eventually get their way, I know because I’ve done it. Sometimes this is warranted because you get a random person that simply cannot be made happy regardless of what you do or how perfect a job you do, their expectations are unachieveable. This is the circumstance I’ve had to deal with and the person didn’t even pay for my services, yet still tried to rate me. The other is unscrupulous businesses that use their weight to give a subpar experience and have poor reviews removed. Regardless of what sites like trip advisor, Yelp, yellow pages, or Angie’s list tell you, be sceptical in your dealings.

  25. Holy cow. Can’t believe that happened. I heard stories like this on Yelp. But didn’t expect this from Tripadvisor. I always take those reviews with a grain of salt. Well now it’s going to be a bigger grain of salt. Hope this TA activity gets more exposure to show that TA has to also care about the travelers and not just their paying customers.

    1. Thanks, Gerard! I always took the reviews with a grain of salt, too, but now I think I’m giving up on TripAdvisor. There’s just no way to know how much pull hoteliers have on the content.
      Appreciate you reading & sharing =)

  26. Wow. This is worrying. I’d be interested to check if any bad reviews I’ve written in the past are still there…! I’ve never had issues on this scale before though. I wonder if the hotel convinced TripAdvisor to remove them. At least they’re still getting bad publicity through the travel blogging community!

    1. I haven’t written too many scathing reviews in the past, so I don’t think any of mine have been removed. But I am dubious about TripAdvisor now. Why waste my time providing free content if there are shady dealings going on with hoteliers behind the scenes?

      Thank goodness for my travel blogger friends helping to get the word out. I’ve already heard of another bride who just had her wedding ruined there, so it’s not just me. Thank you for reading & sharing!

  27. I now rely on for reviews. All,reviewers are verified as having stayed at the property within something like the last 21 days. I’ve never had an issue with negative ones being taken down and if you book with them their customer service folks help make things right or get refunds for you.

  28. Oh no! Just read the part about another bride with a bad experience… how many are out there, having heartbreak in return for their thousands of hard-earned dollars? I hope you keep reporting on this story, Ang!

    1. Thank you, Victoria! I think we’re just on the hook for all that lost money… but I feel somewhat better knowing others can find this story via Google & make an informed decision. TripAdvisor can take down reviews, but no one can make me delete this post!

      Thank you for reading!

  29. This is absolutely horrid! After reading your wedding story (and being a newlywed myself), I was really rooting for you to get your resolution! And being such a TA fan as well… I guess it’s us vs. the corporations. I’m just grateful there is a blogger community looking out for one another!

  30. I stayed at a “#1” hotel back in November 2015: The LLanganuco Mountain Lodge in Huaraz, Peru.

    The owner was actually not onsite when I visited, but his covering staff told me that they pay TripAdvisor a $1400 monthly fee to stay #1. Hmmm… (He also divulged a bunch of shady business practices the owner performs, such as swapping out non-nationals passports instead of Peruvians or faking dates of stay to not pay taxes). I wouldn’t say the place was terrible, it was very average and I gave it a nice-but-average review, making sure to point out that the owner also (a) had me pay via PayPal to a PERSONAL account (and cashed it out) and demanded that I pay $100 three days prior to arrival, stating he’d “bungled the math” and no offer of a refund.

    A few other bad reviews – many of which called him out on financial issues moreso than accommodation – disappeared.

    He wrote a hateful reply telling me that I was either a dishonest scumbag OR an idiot and that I should do my own math. (He had a tiered system where different rooms cost different amounts over different days, so I asked him if we could stay in two different types of rooms and how that would work out over the stay, PayPal’ing him the money over a month before).

    He falsely advertised Wifi, and then told me “some people like the break from Wifi” (which is fine, unless you advertise Wifi)… and my boyfriend was in a car accident, and I had told him I’d contact him from overseas.

    He even took offense to things that were just fact: It is not “walking distance” to the Laguna 69 trailhead, it is a 40-minute/120 Peruvian Sole cab ride. You can walk to the park entrance, but there is nothing there except an entrance booth. I wrote this b/c he was stating you could walk, and I wrote this so other people would simply know, but THIS was offensive. I described the fruit and egg breakfast as “The lodge serves a simple breakfast” and THIS was offensive. I said that there was no heat in the rooms and I was cold despite the duvet. THIS was offensive and apparently only idiots get cold.

    Anyways, I think the top slots are all bought by individuals who would rather pay TA than provide good service. It’s often good service that saves shitty situations, because part of me wants to edit and change the rating down. :-/ bummer about TA

  31. I just checked the fist 1 star review I posted, complete with pictures of bugs and generally gross conditions on a hostel in Cartagena Colombia. It is the highest rated hostel and it’s an absolute dump. Guess what? It’s gone.

    I’m a very highly rated Trip Advisor reviewer. But why bother when they’re removing all negative reviews?

    Sorry Trip Advisor, you’ve lost all credibility.

    1. Ugh, Jessica, that makes me crazy. I always have used TA to see if a place had a reputation for bugs & now seeing how many people’s negative reviews have been removed… well, I just cringe! Thank you for reading & commenting!

  32. I don’t use Trip Advisor anymore to do some “due diligence” on certain hotels or services. This is after I heard from a couple of business owners (cooking school first, then the other one is a hotel) that TA is actually asking them to pay a certain amount of money to keep their number 1 spot. The cooking school told me how he hated TA after that and doesn’t understand why he would pay on the good ratings that his customers willingly give. When he rejected the idea, he fell down to number 2 spot and a new cooking school took the number 1 spot. Go figure.

  33. I have also had my review deleted from TA. I had an awful experience at a resort in Myrtle Beach and like you, I carefully edited my words so as not to swear. I apparently had also “implied profanity”! I was so mad because I spent so long writing the review! I love the Bahamas, I have only stayed at Atlantis a few times.. your story is so unfortunate! You’ll have to have a redo for your 5 year anniversary or something but next time try Aruba!

  34. You bring up many many issues that characterize the tourism industry and its relationship with the media altogether, other than just Trip Advisor. Like you, I am a trip advisor consumer and contributor (I have all those badges, I wonder what they are for?). It annoys me that I can’t ever reply to an owner who gets back to me on a bad review, but whatever. I write good reviews if deserved, and bad reviews when needed. I do the same on my blog. I write a glowing post for a destination I love and a rant if I didn’t enjoy it. The funny bit? Most bloggers tell me I will be left without jobs because no tourism board will want to work with me if I write negatively about a place. Oh well, there goes my freedom of expression, I suppose!? I call it “constructive criticism” and I think my duty is to be true and honest to my readers, more than anything else.

    It is only fair that you share your negative experience and thank God you do have a blog to report all that has happened. But really, this Trip Advisor issue is dodgy to say the least!

    Stay strong, and… well I know that there isn’t much to be happy about all of this, but hey, my two cents? You earned my respect and trust 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful take, Claudia. I pride myself on always telling the truth, and I’ve been pretty fortunate to have mostly great travel experiences. It’s amazing what backlash comes from folks when you do have something negative to say though – I’ve been shocked!

      And absolutely, if you tell the truth about a big brand, there’s a chance it’ll affect your chances of getting projects down the road. But I won’t risk my integrity for that. It’s just not worth it!

  35. Spiritual world traveler caring nothing about money with 50000+ expert posts or so on Tripadvisor also Fodors (Quoted/posted as Qwovadis in numerous Fodor books including Mexico) also LP BootsnAll . TripAdvisor has been ruined by commercialism they care more about stock price than the traveler. There are secret boards of advertisers and you can pay to rise to the top of the ranking. MANY dishonest fake glowing reviews are written competitors that do not pay are trolled with bad reviews. Honest Reviews that are negative that may incur financial or legal consequences are taken down period. The worst I ever saw was the Galapagos forums where cruises costing $500 were frequently marked up to $5000. There is no changing it I tried consider voting with your feet to another of the more honest peer to peer travel boards that are still around.

  36. Michelle Ciccaglione

    As an avid traveller I have long ago learned not to put my faith in Trip Adviser when researching a future travel destination, too many past bad experiences have cemented this extremely pointed opinion.

    Travel and destination Bloggers will render the most true to life opinions, I rely whole hardily on these, or websites like Oyster can offer up self-determining reviews although everything you read needs to be cautiously filtered through with a grain of salt.

    Much like yourself I expect nothing less than the truth so I can weight out what is important to me and unimportant in making a final decision.

    Hotel photos and descriptions have come to be so unreliable that it has even surpassed common sense on the writer’s/editors part, I have taken up the practice of contacting the hotel managers directly to confirm my needs will be met as to avoid future confrontation which neither one of use wants to engage in.

    Yes my list may seem large and so there is not usually anyway to get around it, a simple yes or no on each of my requests is all I require. As a consumer I ask for what I am looking for in a direct manner as to not cause undue hardship to everyone concerned.

    This approach has put a limit to my unhappiness, throwing money at a holiday does not necessarily solve much. From the airport to the beach surprisingly enough we cannot leave our satisfaction in the hand of others, at least not in most cases.

    Things which I will not tolerate;
    • Mold in rooms
    • Ventilation systems that render you sick
    • Insects as roommates
    • Advertised extremely differently then delivered
    • Hotel photos, hey this isn’t our hotel!
    • The so-so reviews where the traveller sounds like a cry baby
    • The weather that happened last quarter excuse
    • The planned renovation which was not disclosed
    • The food that’s only bearable and I can’t get the chef onside
    • The upgraded room you book and the one you actually get
    • Lack of location disclosure – tropical doesn’t have to mean in the middle of nowhere
    • The 24 hr. march break room concerts next door to yours
    • Working vacation and Wi-Fi confirmation but it’s really is not in your room after all
    That’s all folks the world through advertising is always better than the one you’ll actually get to experience.

  37. I’ve lived on an island all my life. You have no idea what the threat of an approaching storm does to island people. People die, whole communities are wiped out, devastation from which it takes years to recover. If you note where the resort is located, it’s on a peninsula, which means that they are very likely to receive storm surge, flooding everything and everyone wiped out to sea. The fear of loss of life and everything they hold dear is very overwhelming.

    While I understand your disappointment and feel that the resort could have gone further, I understand why they were not on their game when you and your guests arrived for what you thought would have been a beautiful island wedding experience.

    They were in survival mode. I think this is why Trip Advisor acted as they did, all things considered.

    1. As a Floridian, I am more than aware of the devastation and fear caused by hurricanes. I’ve been on hurricane relief teams since I was 9. I’ve evacuated countless times and slept in shelters. And as a member of the Bahamas press team for 5 years, I know more about storm effects in that country than anywhere else. Hurricanes have always been a part of my life.

      This hotelier used a hurricane to spin a lie because he planned construction during our vacation & he didn’t want to own up to it or have to reimburse guests. If the hurricane had caused any adverse effects, I would’ve been not only understanding, but the first one in line to volunteer to help on the island! But the hurricane did not affect this island. Sure, a couple of days delay in construction – I could understand. But I have proof that construction started well before Hurricane Joaquin was a blip on the radar & that the owner never intended for the construction to be finished by our arrival date. This was just his profit over service mentality. If the hurricane was the cause of the issue, we should’ve been notified in advance & given the option to move our party to a resort that was actually open for business. Since construction didn’t wrap up until a MONTH after we left, it’s clear this was no tiny 3-day delay for “hurricane preparations.” This was planned construction, during our vacation, and they thought they could get away with blaming a hurricane and get away with it.

      Bottom line: this hotelier is using a tragedy on another island to justify his greed. He’s in survival mode alright – but not as a result of any hurricane. His despicable behavior is not at all representative of the kindness and warmth that I’ve experienced in the Bahamas in the past.

      TripAdvisor may buy into the hotelier’s lies about the hurricanes, but an easy fact check of dates & damage would show is boldface lies for what they are.

  38. I have a similar experience with Trip Advisor. During our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, both my husband and got food poisoning from the food at the resort where we stayed. Even though it was the only negative review I had ever written (out of a dozen reviews), Trip Advisor delayed publishing my review by going back and forth with me about whether I was lying and making things up. My review finally went up weeks later and after some begrudging editing from me.

    I still write reviews on Trip Advisor with the hopes that my experiences and opinions will help readers plan their travels, but I tend to stay away from it when I’m planning my trips now.

    1. Wow, Amy – that’s awful! Thank you for sharing your experience. It helps to know I’m not the only one. Sounds like a system-wide lack of concern for the consumer.

  39. In fact, also does the same. Two of my not-so-good hotel reviews never made it. I checked their Terms and Codnitions and they did say smth about that they can remove certain reviews if they wish. Both places were with great minuses that made my stay not so good, now they seem to do the same for other people who couldn’t be warned by the reviews.

  40. Ugh! I can’t believe you are still dealing with this crap. I love Trip Advisor and I use it for ALL of my trips (booked a few rentals through there just recently for a trip to Ireland) and I am so beyond pissed about this situation. Now I can’t trust them! I’ve posted a ton of reviews on there but only one really bad one and that went up right away. But I have a feeling the hotel I wrote about doesn’t really follow TA anyways. I really want to know what is going on behind closed doors. TA is for reviews, the good, the bad and the ugly.

  41. Wow Angie, when coupled with the pre amble with Silver airlines You have a Romantic/tragi/comic novel here of epic proportions. You mention you already have interest from literary agents, if you can be brave enough to write this as a Rom/Com. A talented screenplay writer could easily turn this into an epic movie. Be ready for offers for the film rights big enough to take all the pain away. Very best of luck with it.

  42. Very interesting article and surprising TA would do this stuff. I work in the travel industry and tell my clients to take TA with a grain of salt. The reason is this. If people have a bad experience they tell everyone about it. Those same people, who have a great time, say nothing. I think it’s the World we live in today which is frustrating. I’ll have clients who will talk for 10 minutes about how their pillow was too hard or how the food wasn’t hot enough. Yet they won’t talk about the amazing times they had in their trip. Frustrating!

    1. You are totally right, Jake – there are many folks out there who just can’t be pleased! In past experiences with TA, if I found a particularly bad review, I’d go check out the reviewers other posts to see if they were just a negative Nelly or perhaps this really was a bad experience. It seemed to work, but now that we know many negative reviews are pulled down, it doesn’t give you that holistic experience. Thanks for your comment!

  43. I can’t believe this!!

    I always thought Trip Adviser was an honest, reliable, independent and trustworthy source. If we can’t trust its review then what is the point in it at all??

    I think i need a sit down and a rather stiff drink now…