Review fraud is very real. Expert Curtis Boyd, Founder of Review Fraud Detection and Protection Software, from his company, explains more about this in an interview with me.

Hello Curtis, thank you for agreeing to let me interview you. You have an amazing story that I'd love to share with my audience. You explain it very well in your LinkedIn profile.

"My entrepreneur journey started when I was in Nursing School. I was my last semester, $30,000 in debt and was rotating through the ER. One of the cosmetic surgeons came into the ER to do a consult, he was in a terrible mood because a patient left him a terrible review that was really hurting his private practice. I told him that I might be able to remove it for him, he jokingly said he'd pay off my student loans if I did. I told him how much in Student Loans I had, and he said he'd probably lost more than that already in the week that the review had been up since it lost him 7-8 new consultations.

The next day I called his office and asked him if he was serious about his offer he made in the ER - he said he was. I spend the next 72 in research mode, flagging and disputing the bad review like crazy. I couldn't get it off, the review administrators were adamant, and I was really discouraged.

I ended up flying to San Francisco during the weekend and was cruising local coffee shops next to the headquarters of this review website to see if I could meet someone who might be able to help me. I ended up meeting a senior-level executive who formerly worked in the review removal department who gave me the lowdown. They provided detailed instructions on what to do any say in order to get the review removed. 

With this advice, I flew back home and got to work. Within 48 hours I had the review removed, within another 48 hours I had a check for $30,000. That was the day I realized I could solve a problem for thousands of business owners and really make an impact in their life. That doctor was on the board of directors for the entire physician network, so within a week I had 500+ clients, a CPA and my own growing business. That was 6 years ago."

That’s incredible! How relieved was the doctor, and your thousands of other clients since then, that you were able to successfully improve their reviews and reputation?

The doctor was very relieved. He went back to business as usual and he was the first customer I ever had that told me that he could sleep better at night knowing that he didn’t have to worry about fake reviews in the future. Most of our customers report the same, sleeping better at night which is why it’s one of our top feedback metrics.

What are some of the many review sites that you actively monitor for your clients (please include sites that are most relevant to hospitality)?

 Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, AirBNB, Facebook

What do hospitality providers (including innkeepers and restaurant owners), need to keep in mind when it comes to protecting their authority and image?

There are 3 types of review fraud that business owners can protect themselves from.

  • Friendly Fraud - When customers lie in reviews because something didn’t go their way.
  • Competitor Fraud - When competitors pay for fake negative reviews.
  • Employee Fraud - When disgruntled ex-employees write reviews for your business

When it comes to fraud - it’s worth investing time and resources to dispute it. Removing 1 bad review has the same weight as getting 11 positive reviews.

How common are fake reviews (from the competition or from people who enjoy hurting other people’s businesses)?

Very common, we estimate over 50,000 fake reviews are being written each day, to hurt competing businesses. That number is only increasing.

Why is it important to stay on top of what people are saying about their businesses online?

It’s well researched that reviews have a direct relationship to revenue. Not only do you need to stay on top of it, you need to invest some time to manage it and optimize it.

How does your services and software protect business (and personal) reputations?

Our software monitors reviews and provides notifications when new reviews are written, what makes us different is that we score reviews based on how legitimate they are.

  • Legitimate reviews need to be responded to and addressed.
  • Illegitimate reviews need to be disputed and removed.

Our software prepared evidence in a PDF that is sent over to administrators, automatically on your behalf. We also help businesses win-back upset customers and respond to legitimate reviews.

While you cannot guarantee all reviews can be removed (no one should), what tips do you give for how owners can reply to those negative reviews?

Be genuine and honest. People reading review responses are people who are thinking about purchasing, so you need to craft responses that provide maximum confidence in your business and brand. The response should be empathetic, and open-ended, meaning that you are inviting your unhappy customer to contact you or come back so that you can talk about how you can improve the situation. You should also include how much you care about customer satisfaction, the amount of customers you have served and your commitment to excellence. These things go a long way.

Is there anything else you’d like to let my audience of hospitality providers (including bed and breakfast owners) know?

My best recommendation for improving your business and your Online Reputation, is to stop marketing and be remarkable. If you want the best reputation, then start by providing the best experience possible - and truly being remarkable.

Curtis, I appreciate your insights about review fraud. I'm sure my audience of readers does, too. 

About the author 

Kristi Dement

Tapping into her love of hospitality & accommodations, as well as her talent for marketing, Kristi started Bed and Breakfast Blogging in November of 2013. She loves helping owners of B&B inns & other properties become more effective with their marketing. She is a member of the Association of Lodging Professionals. 

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