Tanaz Dizadji, Founder and CEO of insydo talks to TMN about biased content and how ‘undercover’ reviews make for honest opinions…
“Press releases are like the tip of an iceberg and honest opinions come from exploring beneath the surface of every business.”
People are savvy and know the difference between impartial content and everything else out there and this was the main reason I decided to launch an authentic digital guide for residents and tourists of the city. To accomplish this, we felt we needed to spend a year in ‘stealth mode’ before officially launching, testing numerous businesses undercover, completely off the marketing community’s radar.
Undercover reviews across several categories result in a trust-worthy opinion on Dubai’s top businesses and services. I believe Dubai is craving honest and independent content and to produce completely impartial and unbiased content, freebies are an absolute no-no. This will ensure that the reviewer does not get influenced by any external factors and voices his/her true opinion on the product or service experienced. Working incognito to assess every featured business – whether that is a dining spot or the services of a painter, allows for authentic opinions based on the same treatment that any regular customer would receive and this is an aspect that should never be compromised, no matter what.
People respond strongly to unbiased recommendations because they trust them. Giving readers and users an all-round holistic review that highlights the good and bad aspects of an experience as well as tips on how to get the most out of a each business, allows them to filter their search and identify a place, product or service that best suits their needs.
Another key factor for fair reviews, particularly when your scope includes different categories of businesses, is to ensure that each one is judged in comparison with other contenders in the same field and supported by relevant KPIs (key performance indicators). After all, you can’t compare a food truck to a fine-dining restaurant. By determining the right KPIs for each category, the reviewer is able to assess every business in a fair manner and benchmark it against the competition.
Testing out every business is a vigorous process that requires time and attention to detail, so it is challenging, especially if one does not rely on press releases for reviews. Press releases are like the tip of an iceberg and honest opinions come from exploring beneath the surface of every business.
A question that I get asked the most is, “How do you decide what to include amongst the city’s best?” In a city as dynamic and diverse as Dubai, sifting through a mountain of choice is no easy task. It is physically impossible to list every business or service in the city – we’ve only got emoji-heart-eyes for the top contenders. Impressions matter most when shortlisting businesses and services for an anonymous first-hand review. It is essential to always stay informed – whether through traditional media, word-of-mouth recommendations, social listening, search volume data and most importantly, consumer feedback, comments and rating. Many of the city’s favourites tend to fly under the radar, in spite of high quality standards and a fiercely loyal customer base. Dubai is an ever-changing city with people that are strongly influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations, which should play a key role in how you explore.
So, how does a business make the cut? Hunting down the top contenders in every field, without the influence of marketers, brand managers and PRs, requires a lot of filtering. While I am open to PRs and marketers pitching their businesses and clients for reviews, I don’t guarantee acceptance to every business. There should be a vetting process and only businesses that make the cut are tested out incognito. Even in cases where featured businesses wish to secure more exposure through our platform, the original review is never tampered with. Once a business has been selected, anonymously tested and featured, brands are allowed to add digital content to their existing page. This feature gives brands the opportunity to market themselves without influencing the authenticity of the review.
I believe in giving the residents of Dubai a complete picture of what to expect and a true reflection of what people love most about the city, and I think the best way to do that is to put an end to freebies and half-honest opinions.