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The under-provision of online reviews is a major challenge faced by review platforms and businesses alike. In response, many businesses have begun to actively solicit reviews from their consumers. But is this approach beneficial?
In examining TripAdvisor’s launch of a review collection program, we found that while hotel participation in review solicitation indeed boosts the total number of reviews, it also results in a noticeable reduction in organic reviews. The motivational crowding-out plays an important role in driving the negative spillover. Additionally, our analysis indicates that solicitation compromises the quality of consumer reviews, as evidenced by shorter reviews and a shift from specific to more general topics. We also identified varying effects of review solicitation across different types of hotels and among reviewers with distinct characteristics.
Management insight: While there are clear benefits to participating in a platform-initiated review solicitation program, businesses should be mindful of the potential unintended consequences, including diminished review quality and informativeness, as well as negative spillover on the volume of organic reviews.