Travel: Travel portal must check the authenticity of hotel reviews

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A hotel that doubts the authenticity of negative customer opinions on a valuation portal does not have to explain why the person should not have been a guest.

Von schlechten Hotelbewertungen sind Nutzer schnell abgeschreckt. Daher überprüfen Reiseportale besser, ob es sich auch um echte Gästeerfahrungen handelt. © Picture Alliance / Andrea Warnecke / DPA-TMN from bad hotel reviews are quickly deterred. Therefore, travel portals better check whether it is also real guest experiences.

basically enables the claim that there was no contact, according to a still unpublished judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) of August 9. The portal is obliged to pursue it and check the evaluation. If the operator does not do so, the hotel is entitled to the questionable evaluation after the Karlsruhe decision. (Az. VI ZR 1244/20)

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First, the specialist portal “Legal Tribune Online” reported on the judgment that a law firm involved had put on the Internet. A BGH spokesman now confirmed the authenticity.

Were the platform users really guests?

sued a holiday and leisure park on the Baltic Sea with around 4,000 beds, which had received several bad ratings on a large portal. The users had only given one nickname and nickname and initials. The park had asked the portal to remove the ratings - in the booking system it could not be clearly demonstrated on the basis of the information that the people were actually guests in the period in question. The portal had refused and referred to the fact that the reviewers had written quite detailed reviews, partly also with photos.

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The Cologne district court had rejected the lawsuit of the holiday park and that, among other things, justified that a comment appears the specific name of an apartment complex and in another that there were spots on the upholstered furniture in a certain room. That speaks for authenticity.

Fake rating by competitors not excluded

The Cologne Higher Regional Court, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the portal should still have contacted the author to clarify whether they were really on vacation themselves. The deletion of a plausible fake rating in terms of content must also be possible. It is unlikely, but it is conceivable that, for example, a competitor wrote the deceptively real -looking negative reviews. The photos did not allow any conclusions to be drawn about who made them.

The BGH now confirmed this judgment. A more detailed reason why an author should not have been a guest only has to deliver a hotel if its identity "results from the evaluation," write the top civil judges. Information that only speaks for a guest contact was not enough. Because the hotel could "not check them regularly".

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