Here are the results on the survey about whether hostels are cheating on hostel reviews.
33 people replied to the survey. Most of them work at hostels.
- 2 people said: I don't know
- 4 people said: Not a problem
- 12 people said: Only a minor problem
- 15 people said: It's a widespread problem
Here's a chart:
I've edited the following anonymous comments for spelling and grammar, and possibly slightly modified the wording while keeping the meaning.
Here's a comment from someone who thinks it's not a problem:
I've heard of some hostel owners encouraging guests to leave reviews on the hostel computer before checking out, but i think it backfires because the guests resent being browbeaten and talk badly about the experience in their later travels.
Here are some comments from people who think it's a minor problem:
There's a bigger problem in the hostel industry. Hostelworld does not regulate whether a hostel signing up with them has a license to operate legally or not. This will affect the image of hostelling as some of these illegal hostels are very dodgy and do not meet the safety requirements (e.g., fire safety). Hosteling is a growing industry and a huge part of the world have yet to try out the real hostel experience, and not just some run down, dodgy place with no hostel culture. These people might be turned off staying in hostels forever.
An easy way to fix the problem, is if they are caught once, they have their listing removed for a day, caught twice, one week, caught three times, two weeks and so on. If you don't cheat you stay on, if you do cheat and are caught you are penalized by making you invisible on the site.
They pressure guests into making reviews.
Some hostels are heard to have pressed (hard) its guests to make positive reviews. They get guests' emails, then a couple days after they leave they send emails begging for a positive review.
Here are some comments from people who think it's a widespread problem:
Properties, should be categorized by age and facilities. With in each category they should then be ranked.
They offer free nights in exchange of a good review.
They give free stuff to guests in exchange of a good review.
They make fake bookings with prepaid gift credit cards.
Capitals with a lot of competition have a cheating problem, especially in Eastern Europe.
It is easy to know who is cheating and who is not. Just look what is written in comments in the low season in [Eastern Europe] and you will have such a laugh. The problem is not that the supposed to be top 10 hostels are buying their comments to get listed better; the problem is booking engine staff doesn't want to do anything about it! You talk to them. You show them and then they don't even check the fake comments regularly, not even warning the obvious cases! I'm not talking about canceling them, but just telling the owners "eeeeei mate watch out cause ..." NOTHING !!!!
[Hostelworld should] not to give the possibility to cancel the reservations after people have showed up.
Canceling the booking is not a way out to avoid the comment at all. In Hostelbookers you can't even really cancel the booking, you just reallocate beds. In Hostelworld the guest always receives the link after showing up in the hostel, even if you cancel his booking asking for deleting ?!?!?!?! hehehehehe well its soooooo obvious that few of the hostel owners have friend on the other side of the computer, its not hard to delete the review, everybody knows that!!! Problems is when you receive a comment done by a guest that wanted to threaten you - for example saying that of he gets free accommodation or he's going to comment badly. And you know what the booking engines do if you let them know about something like that to them????? NOTHING!!!!
Some people who thought hostels are cheating, gave some examples of hostels they thought were cheating. I looked at them and it looked like there might be some attempts at fake reviews, but nothing that had a serious effect.
A hostel with ~80% and somewhere in the range of 50-100 reviews was thought to be cheating, but there are no 100% reviews. I think it's unlikely.
Another hostel with ~80% and 50-100 reviews was accused of cheating, but there are no 100% reviews.
Another hostel with ~80% and 50-100 reviews was thought to be cheating and they do have a long string of 100% reviews. It's possible that they are trying to cheat, but they are still only at 80%. If they weren't cheating it would probably drop them into the 70s%.
Here's a screenshot of a long string of 100% reviews for the hostel above that only has about 80% rating -- highly suspicious:
Another hostel with ~95% rating was accused of cheating, but I've been there and I'm not convinced that they are cheating, unless it is in the form of them previously having a significant number of bad reviews and then asking HW to delete them all in order to get rid of the bad ones. I don't think they are writing fake reviews. It's a very high quality hostel and the guests were loving it.
The deleting of all reviews on Hostelworld is something I've seen happen recently with a hostel which is why I mention it. This particular hostel was (deservedly) the lowest rated hostel in their city, but somehow got HW to delete all their reviews. Now they are the highest rated hostel in their city, but have fewer than 10 reviews.
So, there are the results. What do you think?