Chair Crazy on Google Reviews

Google Reviews play a very important role these days, helping hospitality outlets across the world to generate new bookings and improve their turnover and profit. They are also one of the best tools that the owners of these outlets can use to determine their specific pleasure and pain points, and to accurately measure customer perceptions regarding staff, ambience and menu, amongst others. These reviews have traditionally been hard-earned and are deeply treasured, and fake reviews have been actively discouraged, policed and punished.

However, and most disconcertingly, many of South Africa’s top restaurants have recently been hit with a swathe of fake reviews, most of them AI generated. These reviews are not only misleading consumers but are also actively undermining the restaurant owners’ hard work and dedication. And they are eating away at the actual value of Google’s reviews themselves as fake reviews destroy trust like nothing else.

This new phenomenon is not simply one or two fake reviews amongst a hundred. Ryan Shell from Ōku in Franschhoek says that right now out of 200 current Google reviews his restaurant has garnered, as many as 99% of them are fake. This bombardment of reviews is  very obviously the work of a few bad actors looking to benefit from the discomfort of the industry leaders, and climb the rankings on the back of totally fictitious opinions. Google needs to act swiftly and decisively in this review arena, before these bad actors destroy everything it represents, including the platform itself. And Fedhasa needs to engage directly with Google in South Africa to see if we can collectively put a stop to this nonense. Before a very useful business building tool is destroyed for ever. Watch this space!