According to a British Hospitality Association survey of its members and those of its associated body, the Restaurant Association, 85% of British hotels and restaurants have fallen victim to malicious and fake online reviews, with many saying that the reviews have then been used to blackmail them.

Two years ago, 65% of operators said they had experienced the same, and the BHA says that regulation had not kept pace with new ways of doing business during the speedy growth of the online marketplace. The lack of transparency for the consumer and the potential for very large global digital firms to stifle hospitality businesses’ growth, over 90% of which are SMEs, are concerns.

The survey also finds that 60% of respondents said the online platforms were ‘not helpful’ or ‘not very helpful’ dealing with fake negative reviews, while half of businesses said that the threat of a bad online review had been used to blackmail them into giving a refund to the customer.

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