Resorts World subject of fake online reviews before opening
A cadre of online reviews for Resorts World Las Vegas have vanished just in time for people to make their first visits to the property Thursday.
The integrated resort had several dozen apparently fake Google reviews as recently as Sunday. It wasn’t clear from where or whom the reviews originated, but the property’s Google review page was barren by Tuesday.
Resorts World will be the first ground-up property on the Strip built in a decade and does not open to the public until Thursday.
“Great people and great customer service and a site to see!” read one review of the property, captured in a screenshot posted to Twitter Saturday by Las Vegas Locally. There were 129 Google reviews at that point. “Great staff and delicious food,” read another review in the screencap.
A Google spokesperson confirmed Tuesday the posts’ removal.
“Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action — from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts. We investigated the situation and removed reviews that were in violation of our policies,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Google uses both automated systems and training personnel to find and remove fake content, according to the company. The company last year blocked 55 million reviews and nearly 3 million fake business profiles it found to have violated its policies.
Resorts World averaged 4.3 stars across 144 reviews as of noon Sunday, four days before it was set to open, noted another Twitter user who posted a link to the Google reviews page. The property had two Yelp reviews at noon Tuesday; neither review implied a guest experience at Resorts World.
A Resorts World spokeswoman didn’t immediately provide a statement.
Reasons vary for why someone may post a fake or misleading review, according to UNLV hospitality professor Amanda Belarmino, who studies how cultural and social movements influence the industry.
Reviews carry weight. There’s a positive correlation between the number of reviews and bookings, as well as user-generated star ratings and hotel revenue, she said.
Sometimes it’s as simple as someone leaving a genuine review but mistakenly selecting the wrong property, Belarmino said. It’s possible a guest stayed at a Resorts World or Hilton in a different location or even another Hilton property in Las Vegas, she noted.
“This is actually more common than one would think,” she said.
Though rare, there are documented cases of hotels hiring other companies to astroturf their online presence with bogus reviews, Belarmino said. More common, she said, are cases of competitors writing bogus negative reviews written for new companies, hackers creating fake reviews for potential ransom and other guests who had a bad experience at another one of the company’s properties.
Belarmino said travel sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia have taken steps to weed out fake reviews from their websites. Expedia, she said, restricts reviews to only those guests with a verified stay booked through one of their websites, “which increases the credibility of those reviews.”
“Fake reviews have plagued companies for several years,” Belarmino said.