Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

June 1, 2008

Tao Nightclub Attempts Ballot Box Stuffing

Posted by Hunter

All you readers probably realize that the 'parent' of this blog is our ratings site, We allow readers to rate and review hundreds of Las Vegas hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and more. It's been running since 1999 and has a huge database of worthwhile data.

Over the years, I've added several features designed to protect against malicious uses of an open system - I was getting a ton of submissions that were nothing but spam links to gambling sites. I track the IP address of each submission for the purposes of comparison (no personal info is tracked or stored unless you submit your email address).

Well, over the past few months I've noticed quite a few glowing reviews for Tao Nightclub at The Venetian. At first they looked legit but the wording from week to week was QUITE similar. I checked and of course they are all coming from the same IP - one that is registered to Cox Communications in Las Vegas, NV, the region's cable modem provider.

So, it appears that Tao, or someone working for them, is attempting to defraud the public with fake reviews posted through my service. I assume they're doing this elsewhere as well.

I mention this just because it is interesting. I'll do nothing more but delete the incoming fake reviews and continue on my day.

Any other site operators notice anything like this? Fake comments? Planted submissions? Are Vegas casinos, clubs and PR operations *finally* getting smarter about using the 'Net?

Also, a note to Vegas businesses that want to get their word out - I'm happy to listen to your pitch and I love sharing interesting stories and info with my readers. Just don't try to come in the back door.


Read archived comments (6 so far)
June 1, 2008 12:29 PM Posted by Nathan Boone

haha i just went through some of the reviews..they really dumbed down some of their clientele who use sentence fragments throughout the whole review. this marketing concept doesn't surprise me though.

June 2, 2008 1:57 PM Posted by Mike E

MGM Mirage was going around the various forums with a fake trip report not too long ago. The mods over at VegasMessageBoard discovered it was written by some sort of independent marketing company that works with MGM Mirage. It seems like the report no longer exists so no links to share.

I'm all for reaching untapped audiences with internet advertising, but for these billion-dollar companies to make fake names and write fake reviews, it all seems kind of petty. I used to joke that TripAdvisor had shills that praised themselves and bashed their competition. Now I'm pretty sure that's not far from the truth.

June 4, 2008 8:47 AM Posted by Dave

Astroturfing like this is going to get more common, I'm afraid. And it's completely inexcusable. If Tao wants to raise their profile, why not just have a rep post follow-ups to legitimate reviews? If it's something negative, offer them something to come back? Sure, some people would eventually abuse it by posting negative feedback to get free stuff, but I would think that an intelligent rep could weed those ones out.

You figure that if they send "promoters" around the Strip to walk up to people to get them inside the club, they could give someone in the office 2 hours a day to do the same thing on the web.

And do adults really talk like that? "Get our drink on?" "hellz yeah baby?" I'd pay bottle service prices to stay AWAY from whatever mouth-breather wrote that review.

If you can't generate genuine word-of-mouth and positive reviews, it doesn't mean that your marketing is bad--it means your product is bad.

June 4, 2008 6:33 PM Posted by Chuckmonster

The corporate arm behind Chippendales has hired an online PR firm that recruits 'street team' members, then offers them rewards (a private opportunity to rub hot oil on throbbing pecs of the be-bowtied Chips?) to post reviews and discussion threads on listed websites - including VT. Every month or so a previously unknown 'user' posts Chippendales pimping board threads, which always degenerate into a hilarious array of goofball comments from the regular bozos (and I mean that lovingly). Overall, I think it's a testimony to the power of the people that the highest grossing restaurant/night club in the known universe is raiding the website of 'some kid from California with a computer' in the hopes of enhancing its image.

Way to go H.

June 6, 2008 7:17 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I'll second what Chuck said. Way to go.

June 8, 2008 3:46 PM Posted by motoman

Yeah, props Hunter! ;-)

I'm sure this goes on quite a bit as the Web 2.0 generation comes of age. I've seen negative reviews of restaurants back home that all had the same bad grammar and strange wording ("stinky" sushi?), and wrote it off as perhaps a struggling local competitor.

Although, it's very reminiscent of the fake reviewer quotes in Sony Pictures movie ads a few years ago. And the fake "reverse Switcher" letter (gave up her Mac for a Windows PC) that turned out to be written by a PR firm hired by Microsoft. Even her picture was a stock photo.

I'd think the Tao folks wouldn't need to try so hard....