International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TOURISM, TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY LAW from the mentioned rule.91 The provider is only obligated to let the consumers know whether he checks the reviews, or not. Indeed, such information is already important for the consumer because on the basis of such information, the consumer can judge the reliability of reviews. Again, this is information of great importance precisely for the selection of tourism services. In the beheavioural studies, the information whether reviews really come from consumers who had previosuly used a particular tourist service, turned out to be very important for a decision on the selection of a tourism service.92 However, if the provider of the online marketplace expressly confirms that reviews originate from consumers who have actually used or purchased a product or a service, the provider has two additional obligations: to take reasonable and proportionate steps to check that reviews really originate from such consumers,93 and to explain the mechanism by which it is proven that the reviews trully originate from the consumers who had previously used the service or purchased the product, as well as how the reviews have been analysed.94 If the operator confirms that the reviews originate from the consumers who have actually used or purchased the product but he does not take the necessary steps to check it, his commercial practice can be considered as unfair.95 Finally, a significant advance in the modernisation of information requirements on the online market is also the extension of the so-called black list of commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered as unfair.96 Most unfair commercial practices always arise from the violation of obligations to inform, in a transparent manner, about search queries and the consumers’ reviews on online marketplaces. We speak here of unfair commercial practices which may be of particular importance for consumers who must be well91 In that regard see also Duivenvoorde,B. (2019) p. 225. 92 For more see under 1. 93 For example, reasonable and proportionate steps ought to include: requiring the booking number, requiring reviewers to register; using technical means to verify that the reviewer is actually a consumer (e.g. IP address check, verification by email), deploying tools to automatically detect fraudulent activity and the like. For more see: Guidance on the interpretation and application of Directive 2005/29/EC, 2021, p. 95. Orientation for reasonable and proportionate steps may also be the ISO Standard: “Online consumer reviews: principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication” (ISO 20488:2018). 94 For example, have all the reviews been published (both positive and negative), have they been sponsored, has the contractual relation with the trader had any impact on them? See recital 47, Omnibus Directive. 95 See Annex I UCPD, point 23b. 96 Art. 3 (7) Omnibus Directive amended Annex I with new points 11a, 23a, 23b, 23c.