Trip Advisor is a mixed bag. Those who knew me when I was on the Island know I was in a position to know.
Businesses: It is a love/hate relationship. They know that many tourist go there for advice and also to book rooms etc and the resorts and business need that business. This does come with a cost which can be somewhat steep, especially when compared to tourist who book direct. In addition the "extras" make a lot of money which I don't believe they see if these are booked by TA. Airline flights are one but also excursions. Their commissions are high and you must pay more for a better position as stated. A few bad reports on TA can be really bad news, so businesses pay attention. Some of these bad reviews are unjustified but the business does have an opportunity to reply. God knows we had several over the years which where totally unjustified. Some tourist know this and use this to try to get reduced rates or everything for free with the implied threat of a bad review for something minor or completely beyond the control of the resort.
Costumers: get a chance for a review of a business/resort that they may not know much about. I think the majority of the reviews are honest and where else would the traveler get this advice and in a timely fashion. The businesses, and I know this as a fact, change policies, employees and in general business practices as a result of these reviews and that is a plus for the traveler and the business, I would think.
This is not much different than shopping on line and reading the reviews. Most realize that some of the reviews are "off the wall" but overall they bring up points which help with the decision to buy or not buy. As stated above, a repeating theme should be paid attention to.
Trip Advisors and Internet shopping is here to stay so everyone must adapt to succeed. A small business can ignore I suppose but not a large business. Is it totally fair.?.....NO, but customers and businesses when they adapt, use this to their advantage over others. It has made businesses in San Pedro prosper and fail. Overall I would say justly.