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Royal Caribbean Caught Infiltrating Review Sites With Viral Marketing Team

Discussion in 'Royal Caribbean International' started by Ally, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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  2. alphakitty

    alphakitty Deckhand

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    Reading the comments below the article is very interesting! :)
  3. Elizanessie

    Elizanessie Deckhand

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    Well I can tell you as the only UK RC that report is a load of garbage.

    As an RC I havent recieved any perks....I have recieved 2 emails...thats it !!

    My Pre-Inaugural invites had nothing what so ever to do with being an RC.

    Very disappointed to see such drivel on here.
  4. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    The way that I read this is that RCI has been paying people for glowing reviews of their ships and itineraries....or at least paying a publicity company to employ people to be glowing.

    If that is the case, then it is pretty dirty practice. As admin here, I have not discovered anything suspicious inregards to 'questionable' reviews or anyone who appears to have been paid to make glowing comments about RCI or any other line. People read reviews about ships expecting to be told information that is from someone who has actually been on the ship & itinerary that is being described, to then find out that the author is on a payroll and possibly never stepped foot on a ship is really below the belt and dishonest.

    I take an extremely dim view of it, should it happen here on CruisingTalk, and those who try it and who are found out will be shown the door pretty damn quick, this sort of deception is outrageous and anyone caught doing it here will be banned permanently. I think the same opinion of this scam would be of the same opinion for the rest of the staff here too....being paid by a company to essentially lie is a disgraceful way to do business, and if RCI feel the need to stoop as low as this in order to plump up their public profile, well, they have possibly alienated quite a few people in doing so.
  5. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    With all due respect Liz, I doubt the company concerned is paying every single member of RC around the world...that would be impossible. However, paying a proportion of people for their reviews is not unheard of and certainly not uncommon.

    Unless RCI and the PR company come clean and allude to how many are on the payroll, we will never know how deep this problem is. But to say that it is drivel when it can be proved as true, is a wee bit strong. No smoke without fire...someone somewhere has uncovered deceipt, it may only be a tiny fraction of the membership involved but where doubt has been aired, it has to be investigated fully.

    If you go onto online admin sites, for example, you will find those willing to pay for content...makes a discussion board look healthy...in the same way cruise lines and other industries can and do pay for good reports, it looks good and everything has a price.
  6. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    To those who doubt that articles are often bought...

    Family-Safe Website Content-Providers Wanted

    Content For Sale

    It is a big business and can earn someone a fair amount of money. No company is immune to using things like this, I am just surprised that it took so long for the US consumer advocates to actually catch on to it.
  7. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    Something else that needs to be considered before anyone goes off half-cocked in defence of RCI in this.

    In recent months the cruise line has had financing problems in respect to the Oasis ships.

    To get investors to agree to put money into a project (any project) the company that is needing investment will want to show a buoyant trade and good customer relations, to prove that the investments will be safe and going into a successful and well thought of company. So emplying a PR firm to furnish 'evidence' of the firm's success from 'customers' will go a long way to bolster the reputation and make would-be investors look kindly upon a company.

    RCI are not alone in feathering things to make themselves look good to investors, so as unsavoury and sour the taste is that something like this has been uncovered, it certainly doesn't mean that it is not happening....moreso when the finances are tight.
  8. alphakitty

    alphakitty Deckhand

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    I am only influenced by my own choices and preferences. It matters not to me personally who might champion a product or cruise line or hotel chain. However, I do believe it's in everyone's best interest to disclose the affiliation.
  9. tone1

    tone1 Deckhand

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    I think that just as most consumers have to follow the old "buyer beware" policy, the same applies to cruisers, especially when you are looking for information or forums on the internet, or even an online travel agency.

    I have seen on "other boards" some "1 post wonders" that will praise to the skies one private tour company, travel agency or taxi service while putting down a competitor.

    It is up to each person to acknowledge their own needs and preferences when choosing a cruise line, agency, etc. I don't think that most people would choose their cruise line just based on some exaggerated, "loyalty" reviews on a board.:rolleyes:

    It's a personal decision based on your past experiences and what is suitable for you.:twocents:
  10. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    To me, if someone has something to post about a product or service they have tried or used, they should be able to review it without the need of inducements such as cash or freebee's. Those who 'cheerlead' with such inducements are not always going to tell the truth about that product, they will obviously gloss over the not so good bits cos they would not get the bounty at the end of it if they are too critical.

    I am as shocked as anyone else is about this...however..it should be known that on many sites...such as sitepoint...there are areas specifically set up to buy & sell content for boards like ours, so although it is unpleasant to many to hear that this is happening, my only question is why did it take so long to become public knowledge that it happens?
  11. John Whalen

    John Whalen Deckhand

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    Am I surprised by this? Not at all....no difference between this and influence-peddling lobbyists....and as for the highlighting of what is going on being labeled as "drivel", maybe the poster should go back to CC - we here in CruisingTalk are open, frank, and honest - and respectful to one another - the post certainly sounded like one we'd find on certain other sites......shrill to be sure, imho......and why shouldn't we know about this practice?

    It is shameful that a company has to stoop this low, but again, not surprising.

    John
  12. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    Well I just posted this on CC, I know we don't generally mention other sites but in this case I feel that our honesty as a cruise discussion board could be tarred by the same brush over this RCI behaviour. I do anticipate my post to be removed from there.

    As a site admin as well as a cruiser, I have very strong feelings about this...and yes, I have been pummelled for it too, but that goes with the territory.

    To me, if someone has something to post about a product or service they have tried or used, they should be able to review it without the need of inducements such as cash or freebee's. Those who 'cheerlead' with such inducements are not always going to tell the truth about that product, they will obviously gloss over the not so good bits cos they would not get the bounty at the end of it if they are too critical.

    I am as shocked as anyone else is about this...however..it should be known that on many sites...such as sitepoint...there are areas specifically set up to buy & sell content for boards like ours, so although it is unpleasant to many to hear that this is happening, my question is why did it take so long to become public knowledge that it happens?

    Also...and this time as one admin to another....does the CC admin encourage, thus condone this type of thing...and if they discovered that certain reviews were not absolutely free of inducement, would they remove them or leave them?

    I have already stated on my site that if ANYONE is found to be posting a cruise review, regardless of line, for inducement of any kind, the material will be removed and those who post it banned. Reason being I think it is totally unfair, bordering on deceipt, to post something that has had the wrinkles glossed over in order to gain some sort of inducement, whether it be cash or in kind.

    I know that certain questions would be preferred as email, and doubtless mine would probably fall into that category, but I feel as both a member and an admin elsewhere that this should be an open, honest discussion where if those in charge of content here at CC have been caught out, they should say so in public and not by email as that smacks of MAYBE...and I stress maybe...a sign of guilt.
  13. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    You highlight something that annoys me about this disclosure. We at CruisingTalk do not encourage or condone this sort of behaviour, yet indirectly we will inevitably get tarred with the same brush as CC etc...a case of one site allows it so all sites must be bad.

    That really done pi$$ me off cos we have worked damned hard to make this site different to CC, there is no bickering and none of the shenanigans that has been uncovered by the article. So we now have to prove ourselves to be clean when we were never filthy in the first place, and that is so annoying and unjust.
  14. alphakitty

    alphakitty Deckhand

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  15. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    I just sort of blew my stack a little over at CC...again I am almost certain it will be deleted...

    "I guess what this all boils down to is this...

    Do members and guests want to read honest, unbiased reviews about ships & itineraries that are untainted by inducement (financial or otherwise)...

    Or...

    Do members and guests only want to read rosy reviews where virtually nothing ever goes wrong and everything is tickety-boo...with the real (albeit slight) chance that what they are reading is bought and paid for by a cruise line PR agency and done to make the cruise line look fantastic.

    Now that this behaviour has been 'outed', there will always be the nagging doubt when reading a review of is what I read tainted by being written with inducement or is is written truthfully without inducement or embelishment?

    And if I am being honest here, I am really annoyed....no...flippin' angry...that now this has come out into the open, EVERY site will get tarred with the same brush and that is downright unjustified and untrue. If this or other sites were lead to believe that reviews were legitimately written, fine...but if sites knowingly published a review that had been the fruit of inducement, that is morally wrong, it misleads cruisers who may decide to go on a specific ship or itinerary on the grounds of that review...and there are some first time cruisers who believe every word that they read, cos they have no experience of their own to compare to it.

    I spose its a question of credibility really. I am disgusted that other sites could be tarred with the same brush IF the articles regarding this prove true. Both articles that I have read mention this site (CC) only but that won't stop people assuming the worst of every site. Mud sticks even if you are nowhere near the mud. Myself and my staff have worked damned hard to keep my site clean, yet thanks to underhand behaviour, chances are my staff and staff of every site will now have to prove that we are untainted by this disclosure, which I can say absolutely and categorically that we are clean and have not, will not partake in such behaviour.

    If RCI...and any other cruise line....are using this sort of tactic to make themselves look good, well they might just shoot themselves in the foot, cos the sites that they have seen fit to infiltrate like this will get wise and will hopefully be less tolerant of it in future.

    It would also be useful if owners and site admin did not accept free cruises or have any affiliation with any cruise line(s) as that takes away almost any chance of being unbiased."
  16. John Whalen

    John Whalen Deckhand

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    Ally - Thank you for the message that you sent to CC, as our Administrator.

    I would like to clarify my earlier comments. What I said came in response to what I would normally see on CC, NOT CruisingTalk, and I firmly believe we all have a right to voice our opinion to each other....CIVILLY. The response to you smacked of a response one would expect to see on CC.

    What RCCL has done is wrong; I believe they thought they could get away with it, and they didn't. So now RCCL will be in full damage control, even attacking posts made in CruisingTalk........how very sad, and how very wrong.

    John
  17. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    One thing that has become very clear, CC has been mentioned...even quoted in the second article...as pretty much accepting the practice of posting tainted material. No-one really knows how long this has been going on or how long CC have known about it.

    No matter how many assurances are made that reviews are not tainted, the seed of doubt has now been planted and that will inevitably colour the views of guests and members (especially the newbies) of every single cruise site.

    It is absolutely morally wrong that RCI have done this, I wonder how many other cruise lines have done something similar....

    The thing that upsets and angers me the most about this whole thing is that we at CruisingTalk will inevitably be judged to be the same as CC and allow tainted & paid for reviews to be posted here. And it makes no odds if a review is paid for in cash or a free cruise...it is still payment.

    We have never ever accepted any review that has been knowingly connected to this deception and any that are found to be will be removed and those posters will be banned, cos if they cannot post in an honourable and honest way, they have no place here on CruisingTalk.

    Simple as that.
  18. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    Ya know...something has occurred to me about all this.

    Is it possible that those invited to become RC's were kept in the dark as to why they were invited?

    Now, the way I see this is that RCI employed a marketing firm who in turn started the RC club as a way to monitor and gain good reviews etc from a chosen number of people. Those people would automatically assume that it was an invite from RCI if they were not told that actually the invitation came from the PR company.

    This would answer as to why so many of them have taken the offensive stance when the scheme was questioned over its morality. If they were not told that they were, in effect, being used by a PR company and would be earning brownie points for good posts/reviews and then rewarded, then what is to stop the chosen ones from assuming they were invited by RCI and that the free intro cruises etc were not part of C&A?

    :idontknow:
  19. mrdawson

    mrdawson Guest

    ????????

    Hello everyone, I just found your site and was parusing thru the threads when I came upon this one..... not sure what all the hullabaloo is about...looked at some of the links etc and it just looks like marketing to me...I can tell you something about one of your links though..te one to expertcruiser.com ..you should be VERY cautious of anything read there...it admin/owner whatever you want to call her is a shady character/wanna be journalist who is in bed with a certain CC poster who RCI banned a couple of years ago.....you can find all of her dibble all over that site....though I must admit it is very good entertainment to read but just don't take anything posted there as reality!

    But I got off track here.....the reason I quoted the admins post above is that you seem to be kinda angry over this.....I see you don't cruise RCI (neither do I actually) so I don't know why all the threats at members here....:shout:
  20. Ally

    Ally Deckhand

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    Firstly welcome to CruisingTalk.

    The main reason that I do not appreciate people writing a review knowing that there is a potential for them to gloss over the bad bits (if too critical they would get less 'brownie points'), the reason for a review is to let people know what your own experience was...warts and all. If the warts are hidden or played down, well newbies to cruising could be mislead and that is quite wrong and should not be encouraged or condoned.

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