Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at glowing fake reviews, Air France-KLM's expansion ambitions, and Qatar's Covid test retreat.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Monday, October 31. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Many hotels have for years posted fake negative online reviews to undermine their hotel rivals. But premium hotels tend to change their tactics whenever premium short-term rentals start competing in their market, according to a new study. The upscale hotels instead start posting fake reviews that tout how wonderful their hotels are.

Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill reports that it’s been an open secret for more than a decade that many hoteliers post fake reviews, often by hiring third parties, to either make competitor properties look worse or to improve their own online ratings.

The twist now, a switch to inflate your own hotel rating, was charted by a study of 2,188 hotels in Texas across eight years. The academic journal MIS Quarterly recently published the peer-reviewed study.

The study found that, over time, whenever high-end Airbnb listings appeared within a one-kilometer distance, local high-end hotels and resorts tended to boost their fake, positive reviews. Meanwhile, the badmouthing of rival hotels tended to fall off. Without the fake, negative reviews, their overall average of five-star ratings on Tripadvisor tended to climb.

Next, Air France-KLM is evaluating opportunities to expand in southern Europe. An investment in state-owned TAP Air Portugal would complement a potential deal for Italy’s ITA Airways in several of Europe’s fastest recovering markets, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand..

“We’re very comfortable with the Iberian peninsula, and TAP could be an option for us to have a larger presence,” Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said during its third-quarter earnings call on Friday. The group will definitely engage with the Portuguese government on a formal basis when it is ready to sell down its full ownership in TAP, he added.

We end with news that Qatar will be dropping its requirement of a pre-arrival negative polymerase chain reaction Covid test from November 1, just in time for the FIFA World Cup that kicks off there from November 20.

Asia Editor Peden Bhutia writes that Qatari citizens and residents coming into the country will also not be required to undergo a rapid antigen or polymerase chain reaction test within 24 hours of arrival.

The government last month said in a statement that a Covid vaccination would not be mandatory for football fans coming into the country for the World Cup.

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Tags: air france-klm, coronavirus recovery, qatar airways, skift podcast, world cup

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