Going to India? Delhi in
particular? All you want to know about Delhi and more. Delhi is one of
the world's more amazing and exotic cities with a thousand years of
history on view. This guide leads you...
The famous Warbirds Over Wanaka airhsow was held over Easter
2014. The next show will be Easter 2016
See page and 2014 report.
2015 will see the Omaka
based 'Classic Fighters' airshow.
See page and 2013 report.
Russia, as we know, has a fascinating aviation history. Passport
Travel offers packages for the MAKS airshow near Moscow. Last year Brent
explored some new museums as well as updated himself with new aspects of some
well established museums.
Check out our dedicated pages.
Ideas to consider when
travelling that lessen your impact
ideas can help, as demonstrated by the following.
water - do you really need it?? People managed before the explosion
of water in plastic bottles. How can you do without?
a) If you are staying in a hotel that has both an electric
jug (kettle) you can simply boil water in the evening and refill
your water initial bottle (or the robust one you have from home)
letting it cool over night. If you have the added luxury of a fridge
you can 'chill' that water.
b) This writer takes a high quality water purifier hand pump
- the type used on hiking trips. Water can then be quickly pumped
from any tap supply of water and be made good for human consumption.
c) refill from your hotel water tap and drop in the required
number of purifying tablets. This was the 'old time' method (along
with (a)) and still works.
writer was traveling with the full family compliment of 4 and using
suggestion c, you can imagine the financial savings by not having to
buy bottled water for 4 persons every day. Water is sold to
foreigners at a much higher rate than the locals. After a couple of
three trips the upmarket hand pump had repaid itself and the rest is
Plastic Water Bottle cure????
additive to make plastic bottles biodegrade completely is now on the
market for water companies in the UAE, Gulf News has reported. The
oxo-biodegradable additive is similar to what is currently being
used in plastic bags to make them degrade quickly once discarded.
UAE residents reportedly have the world’s highest per capita
consumption of bottled water, creating huge amounts of plastic.
Danger of plastic in the oceans.
Russian River Cruises
cruising patronage has surged over the last few years. The Danube has
been the most flavoursome choice, but more interest has been seen for
the Russian river cruise options. We deal direct with Russian cruise
boats so you will notice a difference in costs found in more traditional
Russia River Cruise Page.
Don't forget our
Adjusting the Budget so save
more for Travel
As exchange rate wax and wane you
possibly buy less foreign currency with your home currency. There
are other very subtle ways to increase your saving rate!
have shown that few respondents realised they could save up for a
return flight to New York or Asia within a few months by cutting
back on some routine expenditures. A recent survey asked, "If you
could cut back on any living expenses in order to take a holiday
more often what would you cut back on?"
According to the survey's 1000-plus respondents indicated that "they
would be willing to forgo their purchased lunches if it meant they
could travel more". Simple expense added up in the long run, with an
average worker spending $10-$15 a day on lunch. Just do the maths
and look at that over a month. Yes, to get a true picture you have
to cost in self made lunch costs, but I am sure you will realise
that will be cheaper. daily coffee, have you noticed how your daily
doses have gone up in price, yet the world commodity market for
coffee shows the raw material has gone down!! Simply buy a small
machine for home, or work, or even both. You will pay for the
machine in no time (depends on level of machine) and then save at
least $800 to $1000 a year - based on 2 cups a day habit!
The results were also broken down by gender and generation, which
provided some interesting insights. A significant number of
respondents (20%) admitted there was nothing they would cut back on
for a holiday. Interestingly 14% of all respondents who said they
wouldn't change their spending habits to save for a holiday were
females falling into the Generation X bracket, whereas women who
classified as Baby Boomers opted to cut back on everyday expenses.
The results also revealed that male respondents would prefer to save
money on domestic items rather than gym memberships. Survey
respondent's top 5 living expenses holding them back from a holiday:
1. Work lunches
2. Daily coffees
4. Gym Membership
5. Impulse clothing purchases
Latest Travel Accessory
airplane parts are being used to produce accessories
from purses and pouches to clutches and carry-on’s.
States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) demands that
airplane seat covers be removed from use after nine
washes, as they begin to lose their fire retardant
coating, Jaunted reported.
Tierra Ideas, turn this trash into treasure,
constructing duffle bags, messenger bags, laptop
sleeves, and other travel bags from surplus seat
covers, seatbelts and more.
forget your bag next time you fly, as it’ll probably
blend in with its surroundings.
ACCC Weighs into Fake Review Site Debate
May 2014: Most travellers book accommodation
after looking at online travel reviews.
How does TripAdvisor identify the estimated 15% fake travel reviews, and remove
What law applies to websites which host fake online travel reviews?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has published a
Supplier Guide for online travel review platforms such as TripAdvisor to outline
how to maintain the integrity of their sites. It is called: What you need to
know about: Online reviews – a guide for business and review platforms;
published in November 2013.
TripAdvisor has procedures in place to comply with the ACCC legal guide.
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website, sharing over 100 million
travel reviews posted by travellers covering 1.5 million hospitality businesses.
Every month 260 million visitors reference TripAdvisor reviews on places to
‘stay, eat and play’ before booking a hotel, resort, restaurant or tourist
This is an outline of the ACCC legal guide, and what TripAdvisor does to comply.
Detecting and removing fake travel reviews
Hoteliers and restaurateurs know that positive online travel reviews are
powerful marketing tools. They encourage guests to post reviews on the excellent
service and experience they provide.
But some are tempted to post fake travel reviews either to promote their hotel
or restaurant or to drive guests away from a competitor. Fake travel reviews
also concern the website host because they affect the trustworthiness of the
online review platform.
How do you spot a fake travel review?
Fake reviews raise suspicions because they are overly enthusiastic or critical
or contain incorrect facts. Illustrations:
‘Can definitely NOT recommend’ or ‘This place is a DUMP’ [the capital letters
point to a fake review posted by a competitor]
‘This place is fantastic! The rooms are BEAUTIFUL and the staff very attentive
and wonderful!! [the exclamation marks point to a fake review posted by the
hotel on itself]
The room descriptions correspond word-for-word with the hotel website but the
location and surrounds of the hotel are factually inaccurate [word-for-word
descriptions raise suspicion, factual inaccuracies show it to be fake]
‘The trains came past the hotel every 20 minutes’ [fake because the nearest
railway track was many miles away]
A review of a one night visit posted 15 months afterwards [probably fake - does
a genuine guest wait this long?]
‘I loved the view from the room’ [probably a fake paid review because the style
is eye-witness. Reviewers say ‘The view was breathtaking’]
How are fake travel reviews published?
Fake reviews are usually published anonymously on review websites.
If a fake travel review is published by a hotel, it is known as ‘astroturfing’.
Illustration: In June 2013, it was discovered that 105 reviews had been
published on TripAdvisor by an Accor and Sofitel manager over several years. The
reviews were a mixture of positive reviews on its hotels and negative reviews on
competitors. The fake reviews came to light when the assumed name used by the
manager to post the reviews was traced to the hotel manager. The reviews were
removed and the manager was dismissed. The hotel retained its listing.
Some fake travel reviews are paid reviews. Illustration: In February 2014,
Tourism Industry Association New Zealand warned against emails from a Fake
Review Optimiser offering to post as many as 20 false reviews for $297.
What action does the ACCC recommend to online review platforms to identify fake
An online review platform which hosts fake reviews is misleading the public, in
breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC states that there is no precise formula for identifying fake reviews.
It points to indicators such as a ‘spike’ in reviews, the same email or IP
addresses, using ‘marketing-speak’ writing styles, and copying the same
marketing language as the business uses.
The ACCC recommends that online review platforms adopt both a proactive approach
– using automated or manual internal systems to screen a review before it is
published, and a reactive approach – relying on complaints information after the
review is published.
How does TripAdvisor deal with fake reviews?
TripAdvisor is an online review platform which publishes reviews contributed by
‘everyday’ consumers, relying on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’.
TripAdvisor takes a proactive approach. Before submitting a review, the reviewer
I certify that this review is based on my own experience and is my genuine
opinion of this establishment, and that I have no personal or business
relationship with this establishment, and have not been offered any incentive or
payment originating from the establishment to write this review. I understand
that TripAdvisor has a zero-tolerance policy on fake reviews.
The review is screened by technology and by editors before it is published, for
between 24 and 48 hours. It is moderated to ensure that it is family-friendly,
is posted to the correct business and complies with guidelines.
Hotel owners may use the ‘Reporting Potential Blackmail’ procedure – when a
guest threatens to write a negative review unless a demand for a refund,
upgrade, or other request is met. This is used to block publication of the
TripAdvisor also takes a reactive approach. Because it receives 60 contributions
every minute, TripAdvisor does not fact-check reviews. It relies upon travellers
and businesses to report inappropriate reviews.
Businesses should monitor reviews and use the ‘Report an inappropriate review’
procedure to request removal of a review.
To increase the chances of removal, businesses should highlight factual
inaccuracies which indicate that the reviewer did not visit; and highlight
defamatory comment, which it calls ‘non family-friendly comment’, such as
profanity, threats, prejudiced comments, hate speech, sexually explicit
language, or other content that is not appropriate for the community.
If TripAdvisor fails to remove a fake review, a complaint should be made to the
What can a business do about a negative (but not fake) review?
The ACCC recommends that businesses be provided with an opportunity to post a
public response to negative reviews which do not qualify to be removed as fake
Hospitality businesses should look at all reviews as first hand market research,
as an opportunity to engage with the public, and to demonstrate that they take
customer service seriously.
TripAdvisor has a ‘Write a Management Response’ procedure. It suggests that the
business responds quickly, iscourteous and professional, addresses the specific
issues and highlights the positives.
What else does the ACCC recommend to travel review platforms and hospitality
Incentivised consumer reviews
The ACCC is concerned that incentives offered to consumers in exchange for their
reviews may lead to biased, inflated or misleading reviews.
The ACCC recommends that incentives offered by the review platform to reviewers
are prominently disclosed on the review page. TripAdvisor has a non-financial
incentive scheme for reviewers, called review badges. Review badges are awarded
for both positive and negative reviews. The contributor’s photo, reviewer status
and number of reviews appear on the review.
The ACCC is concerned that incentives offered by businesses do not result in
‘inflated reviews’ being published. The ACCC recommends that if the review
platform notices a spike in consumer reviews, then it should ask the business to
disclose any incentive offered.
A business is entitled to offer incentives, such as vouchers or sending a link
asking for a review after the stay, so long as they are offered to all consumers
and for both positive and negative reviews.
The omission of credible consumer reviews, inflated (average) reviews and the
Most online review platforms use a star rating system to give the ‘big picture’.
The more reviews, the more reliable the rating. TripAdvisor uses a ‘bubble
rating’ scale of 1 to 5, which it displays prominently under the name of the
business reviewed, together with the number of reviews upon which this is based.
Because a body of reviews creates the overall impression, the ACCC states that
the review platform should not selectively remove or edit reviews. But it is not
misleading to remove fake, offensive, defamatory or irrelevant reviews.
Disclosing commercial arrangements with reviewed businesses
Most review platforms have a business model of deriving revenue through paid
advertising or ‘sponsorship links’, rather than charging membership or listing
fees to businesses or access fees to users. TripAdvisor has a basic listing
which is free of charge. TripAdvisor allows hospitality businesses to ‘upgrade’
by paying for a Business Listing which has contact information and links for
bookings, a slide show for photographs and a more prominent display.
The ACCC accepts these commercial arrangements, so long as they are prominently
disclosed, are transparent and do not impact upon the content and presentation
of the review. The TripAdvisor website pages display the businesses reviewed on
the left hand side of the page, and the ranking according to its algorithm. The
paid Business Listings are displayed separately in columns such as ‘Best deals:’
on the right hand side or in shaded boxes which are marked ‘sponsored links’.
This satisfies the ACCC requirements.
The ACCC Guide for online review platforms have not been tested in legal
proceedings in Australia.
TripAdvisor has been mentioned in passing in 6 Court judgments in Australia, but
not as a party to legal proceedings.
Only the future can tell how the Australian Courts will deal with fake online
Hospitality businesses should regularly monitor reviews and use the procedures
available to request that fake reviews be removed and respond to both positive
and negative reviews.
Anthony J Cordato, Travel Lawyer