“Dirtiest” hotel sues TripAdvisor for $10 million

The owner of the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Force, Tennessee is suing online hotel review company TripAdvisor for US$10 million.

Kenneth Seaton, the owner of Grand Resort, alleges that TripAdvisor “maliciously and wrongfully” hurt his hotel’s business by placing Grand Resort atop its “2011 Dirtiest Hotels” list for U.S. hotels on the website.

TripAdvisor is not commenting on the lawsuit. “TripAdvisor does not comment on threatened or pending litigation,” said Kevin Carter, TripAdvisor’s manager of business and trade public relations. “The top 10 list of dirtiest hotels is compiled based on traveler ratings for cleanliness on TripAdvisor.”

TripAdvisor, which publishes a similar list for hotels in Europe, Asia and India, released the list in January, highlighting Grand Resort’s negative reviews. “The unpopular property elicited such hotel review titles as ‘Worst Hotel Stay of My Life,’ ‘Stay Anywhere Else But Here,’ and ‘Absolutely Horrible!’” TripAdvisor said in a press release.

It included a review stating “if you are looking for a hotel with chewing tobacco spit oozing down the halls and corridors; spiders actively making webs in every corner of your room; carpeting so greasy and dirty you wouldn’t want to sit your luggage down – let alone walk around barefoot…… by all means, stay at The Grand Resort.”

TripAdvisor mentioned its commitment to informing traveler’s about hotel stays in the list’s January press release.

“For the sixth consecutive year, TripAdvisor is shining a light on those U.S. hotels which have made a mark on their guests for all the wrong reasons,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “From TripAdvisor’s core, we believe that candid reviews — good, bad and ugly — empower travelers to see it all so they can plan and experience the best possible trips.”

The lawsuit comes as the veracity of TripAdvisor reviews is coming under increased scrutiny. In the U.K. both the Advertising Standards Authority and Office of Fair Trade have recently launched investigations of TripAdvisor over the posting allegedly false reviews.

TripAdvisor, a subsidiary of Expedia, Inc., maintains that the vast majority of reviews on its website are legitimate and there is “zero tolerance” for hoteliers and reviewers breaking policy.

A screenshot of TripAdvisor's "2011 Dirtiest Hotels" list for U.S. hotels, on which Grand Resort is number one.
A screenshot of TripAdvisor’s “2011 Dirtiest Hotels” list for U.S. hotels, on which Grand Resort is number one.