The Problem with Yelp: Filtered Reviews

A quick glance at the Yelp reviews page for Discover Hawaii Tours isn’t enough.  You might think that just 7 people have reviewed us since 2010, but that’s not true. In fact, there are over a dozen Yelp filtered reviews just below the surface—and Yelp doesn’t want you to see them. (Looking for reviews of Discover Hawaii Tours? Click here.)

Yelp filtered reviews: What you see is not what you get

In fact, we’ve had over 20 reviews in the past 2 years. The problem with Yelp reviews is that Yelp filters out what they believe to be “not useful and trustworthy.” In other words, Yelp filtered reviews are unreliable. But this isn’t exactly true.

A guessing game at best

It’s not an exact science. In fact, Yelp admits that their filter algorithm ”sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews and misses some fake ones, too.” Let’s check out examples of useful reviews of Discover Hawaii Tours that have been filtered.

Kimberly’s Review = Filtered

Kimberley M.’s Discover Hawaii Tours review was filtered a few days after she posted it to Yelp. Why? No one but Yelp knows for sure, but it might be because Kimberley only has 3 Yelp friends and has written 7 reviews so far. However, her reviews for other places aren’t filtered, so why only filter it for Discover Hawaii Tours? A few reasons why we think Kimberley’s review is reliable:
  • Length: Kim’s review is 540 words long! That’s a lot to write about.
  • Unique advice: Kim suggests that people should tip their tour guides—and uses two paragraphs to do so.
  • Variety of other reviews: Kim has written reviews in Utah, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Long reviews hardly count

We understand that short reviews might be unhelpful. However, it seems that a review’s wordiness should be compared to all of their reviews. In other words, if a Yelper has written a variety of lengthy reviews, wouldn’t a short review be justified by their contributions across the site? Here are two examples:
If you look at the rest of Alex D.’s reviews, you can see that he doesn’t say much more than a few paragraphs in each review. But Megan M. has written over 40 Yelp reviews, and many are over 300 words long.

Business-customer interactions? Filtered.

One review we take pride in was written by Christina M. Unfortunately, it’s filtered, too. Christina had an issue after she booked a tour the day before her requested tour date (we recommend booking at a least a week in advance), so she wrote a 1-star review. We responded publicly, apologizing to Christina and offering her another option:

We responded, and Christina was happy.

But that still wasn’t enough.

Christina was happy with our response, and she took us up on our offer. In fact, she booked two more tours a few weeks later! But did Yelp notice this conversation between customer and company?

No. At the very least, Yelp needs to revise their algorithm to automatically unfilter any reviews where a business publicly interacts with a reviewer.

The irony

By filtering out our interaction with Christina M., Yelp has failed its mission. The first sentence in Yelp’s official blog post announcing why Yelp has a review filter says:

“Here at Yelp, we’re trying to connect people with great local businesses.”

It seems nothing is farther from the truth.

What can you do instead?

Check out our Reviews page, where you’ll find customer feedback from across the internet. It’s the best source of customer feedback of our tours anywhere online.

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