The Best Review Incentive is… No Incentive

A good friend showed me an eco-hotel that was offering a very creative review incentive and asked if I thought this violated TripAdvisors no incentive terms of service:

“When you leave a review on TripAdvisor, we make a donation to Plant A Billion Trees Foundation.”

I had seen incentives come in all shapes and sizes but basically break down into three categories, all of which had been declared as not kosher at both TripAdvisor and Google:

  • Leave us a positive review and receive a coupon/discount/award
  • Leave us a review, good or bad, and receive a coupon/discount/award
  • Leave us a any review and be entered into a raffle to win a coupon/discount/award

Any Review Incentive Violates TripAdvisor Guidelines

This one was different. I had never seen one that was as subtle as making a donation to a charity. It appears to the casual reader to not be self serving. That being said, it seemed to exist on the above continuum and I was curious if either the FTC or TripAdvisor found fault with it. So I reached out to TripAdvisor and this is what I was told:

The response provides information that review incentives do violate TripAdvisor guidelines and are subject to penalty.

Offering any sort of incentives in exchange for reviews is a violation of (TripAdvisor) guidelines


In case you’re interested in reviewing the guidelines, here are the links:

So, there you have it. ANY incentive, no matter if the incentive is for the greater good of mankind or for the personal gain of the reviewer, is deemed as out of bounds and should not be used.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

2 Replies to “The Best Review Incentive is… No Incentive”

    1. It is not a violation of truth in advertising and is ok. That being said, my finding is that users will willingly give you their email address.

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