TripAdvisor admits removing reviews critical of Wakehurst Place estate

Negative reviews were reportedly taken down following request by employee of Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, which manages the estate

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The Independent Online

TripAdvisor, the travel website used by millions of people for advice on where to stay, has admited deleting reviews critical of a venue, reportedly after a request by the venue's PR team.

The travel site deleted more than 200 reviews of Wakehurst Place, a National Trust estate leased by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

Many of the negaive reviews had noted a £10-a-day parking charge and complained about staff at the property.

An article on the Mail Online website reported that the reviews were removed after they had been flagged to TripAdvisor by a member of Kew's Digital Media team.

The Mail Online quoted a TripAdvisor spokesman as saying: "In the case of the reviews we removed, they were talking about a parking charge - but they weren't actually talking about them going to the attraction."

Speaking to the Independent, TripAdvisor confirmed that a "sizeable number" of reviews had been removed but said that none were removed as a result of direct communication with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and stressed reviews were only removed where they assessed the reviewers had not been to Wakehurst Place.

"In this case, we removed a number of reviews for Wakehurst Place from our site because we determined they did not relate to a relevant first-hand experience," TripAdvisor said.

The site does not accept reviews from people who have no first-hand experience of the venues they are reviewing.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew confirmed it had flagged a number of reviews, but said in a statement in response to the Mail Online article: "There has not been direct communication between RBG Kew and TripAdvisor requesting the removal of reviews."

TripAdvisor users noticed last week that negative reviews of Wakehurst Place were disappearing from the website.

Wakehurst place in East Sussex is managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens and is a centre for Kew's Millennium Seed Bank project.