Arthur Frommer has joined those who are questioning the value of user reviews and user-generated content in the wake of the Royal Caribbean Champions controversy.
Royal Caribbean sought out and rewarded people who posted positive commnts about their cruises on boards like Cruise Critic.
As Frommer points out:
… Cruise Critic is owned by Expedia, the giant, billion-dollar airfare search engine. Expedia also owns Trip Advisor. Did you know that? So Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor, far from being small entities run by idealistic travel commentators, are both parts of an immense, faceless, profit-making corporate entity …
While I don’t find corporate ownership utterly incompatible with honest handling of user reviews, I agree that this whole episode is very troubling.