Web critics see hotels review their options
Hapless hotels blitzed by negative online reviews from guests are being forced to change their name because of the impact of the criticism on their business is so bad.
That was the astonishing message from one online website review guru, who says the power of internet sites such as Trip Advisor - where guests can read the thoughts of people who have previously stayed at a hotel - has radically changed the way both guests book hotels and how hotels operate.
Speaking to 7DAYS at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai yesterday, RJ Friedlander, CEO of website ReviewPro.com, said: “Hotels have changed their names as the lasting legacy was so horrible.”
He added: “The amount of consumers who look at reviews (before booking) is estimated to be anywhere between 56 to 85 per cent - so the majority to virtually everyone.
“A Google survey said 34 per cent spend an average of eight hours reading reviews and visit 22 different sites.” Monica Majors works as a PR and Media Coordinator for the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel in Musandam in Oman, close to that country’s
border with the UAE.
She believes it now imperative that any serious hotel has a dedicated online media specialist who responds to online reviews and feedback.
“You have to be on it - it’s about constant
monitoring and full transparency.” Hotel employee Fabrizio Puglisi, who started working for the Millenium Hotel in Abu Dhabi in February, even admitted he chose his current job after reading positive reviews of the hotel online.
“Reviews are so, so important,” he said. “We rose three positions in the top 10 hotels in Abu Dhabi recently because of good reviews.”
Friedlander said cases where hotels write made up, positive, fraudulent reviews on sites were “rare”, and called such instances “a violation”.
But perhaps the full power of internet reviews was shown when Majors admitted that - while not common - some guests do try to bribe hotels by threatening them with negative online reviews unless they are given free stays or luxury dinners.
“You just have to make them happy,” she admitted. “You do whatever it takes.”