Travel sites that review hotels are becoming more questionable so stated an article I just read on The Atlantic Wire entitled How to Spot a Fake Online Hotel Review. This is the 4th article I have read over the past 3 weeks that are helping the public to spot fake reviews. If a bad hotel pumps up it’s reviews it may mean that a cheep hotel is a bad hotel deal. The University of Cornel published a paper on how to spot a fake review on a hotel review site. As a person who has been in the hotel industry for over 30 years I have seen the benefits of the emerging review web sites and the emergence of customers/ guests doing homework on a hotel before making a reservation. As time has gone by some individuals have learned to work the system. Recently I had a guest post a less them flattering review on a hotel my company runs and when I reached out to them they stated “I will remove the review if you will give me a refund and enough points to get a free stay in New Orleans”. Keep in mind this is a person who never let the hotel know they had a problem. This person was handed at check in a welcome letter that stated the hotel is committed to making his stay great and to please call us if they need anything. They received a call 15 minutes after they checked in asking if everything was “wonderful” in their room…they said that it was great. They were asked at checkout “was your stay with us great and if you were to receive a survey would you feel comfortable giving us the highest score of 10” and this gentleman answer absolutely. This person has learned that he can blackmail the hotel into getting something for free.
Hotels have a tracking system and so do their parent company to monitor the chronic complainer. They do a good job at uncovering those that are dead set on abusing the system and now some review sites are catching up. Trip Advisor now has a blackmail option for hotels. The bottom line is that, all things being equal, a hotel that is 3 out of 5 is probably not as nice as a hotel that has 4 out of 5. Do these scores on travel sites really give you a true value meter? I don’t think so! While reviewing 5 major markets I noticed that the top ten hotels are all hotels that have the highest rates. What does that mean to me? If you have the highest rate you can afford to through the most number of employees at a problem. Does that equate into the best value or the best hotel deal for you? Not being a millionaire it does not equate into that more me or most of the people I know. I have stayed in Great Hampton Inns, Great Embassy Suites, Great Four Season Hotels, several good Motel 6’s and it is about finding a clean, well maintained, hospitality focused hotels/ motels located where I want to be.
My suggestion is do not delve too far into hotel reviews (unless it’s Hotel-Opinion) and expect that a Clarion that is $50 rated a 2 out of 5 is probably not the same value as a Clarion rated 3.5 out of 5 that has a rate of $64. If I look at the 3.5 and compare it to a Courtyard that is a 3.5 and is $129, I think I’m choosing the Clarion Hotel at $64, yep that is the best hotel deal.
Please note every review that Hotel-Opinion posts the General Manager gets an email that lets them know that a review has been published and asks them for their input. I don’t think it is a leap, to come to the conclusion that a hotel that receives a bad review and has no comments is ran by a person who could care less. Then again every hotel that gets a bad review has several things in common, one being, a General Manger that has no attention to detail and no follow through or is overwhelmed due to ownership’s restrictions…so who is surprised that they would not make a comment on their hotels review. In that e-mail I also give the General Manager the opportunity to invite me back so I have a second chance to get it right for them…after all every hotel I have ever ran has had an off day and I wished, more than once, that I had a mulligan. So all hotels reviewed get that chance; but no one has claimed it yet.