Martin Couchman OBE, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, who is in talks with TripAdvisor about hotel and restaurants concerns, said: “People threatening restaurants and hotels with bad TripAdvisor reviews to extort freebies is a problem which has been growing. While it’s very difficult to put an exact figure on how widespread the problem is, it is clear that there is a small minority of online reviewers who are either directly or indirectly blackmailing hotels and restaurants for their own gain. Even just one or two bad reviews can have huge consequences for a business’s reputation.
"For example, people may attempt to blackmail during the meal. While it can be difficult to prove that somebody has held your business to ransom in this way, we would advise that business owners do not respond – or make free offers – to reviewers they suspect are malicious. I would ask hospitality business owners to contact TripAdvisor or the British Hospitality Association if they are concerned about malicious reviews.