Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reaction to controversial TripAdvisor reviews: do it ourselves

It’s getting to be “review turnabout time” as more tourist-oriented providers attempt to dilute the influence of TripAdvisor in an effort to take more control of reviews. Two examples:

---Lodging Interactive and Social Media Marketing Agency announced their own “Guest Review System” designed for hotels, restaurants and spas.

---In a move that could be emulated by others, Starwood announced it is launching its own first-ever review site that is in-house.

“The Guest Review System enables hospitality companies to manage and display consumer reviews on their own websites and blogs,” says a press release.

Founder and President DJ Vallauri said:

“The time has come for hotels to take control of their guest reviews and to stop sending potential guests to third party review web sites where they may never return or worse, book a competitor’s property.”

He said market research supports the fact that over 75 percent of online travel buyers who consider consumer reviews prior to making an online purchase.

“This trend is not going away and hoteliers have told us they need more control over the guest review process,” he said

The Guest Review System ( is a web based review management system that empowers hotels to collect their own guest reviews and post management responses on their web sites, he said.

The system lets consumers post their comments and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes.

Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on Facebook and their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website, says the new site.

“The New York Times recently reported on individuals and offshore companies established to post fake reviews…in some cases negative reviews about competitors, it’s just getting out of hand,” said Vallauri.

The company says its service is low-cost and it offers a free trial.

In the case of Starwood, the chain’s Sheraton, Westin, W and other Starwood properties can assess their stay directly on the chain’s web sites.

Anyone including non-hotel guests will be able to read the reviews and share them via social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.

None of Starwood's biggest rivals such as Marriott and Hilton have attempted to post customer reviews. “Doing so, after all, could be risky if reviewers expose weak points, such as a nasty hotel staffer, broken air conditioning unit or inadequate Wi-Fi connection,” writes USA Today.

By bypassing the world’s most popular review site, TripAdvisor, Starwood is counting on its repeat customers to be satisfied. Under their review system, ratings will only be published after a writer’s stay has been checked and validated.

A spokesperson says that is no problem because of the chain’s confidence in its product.

He said any complaints will be followed up at individual properties.

By David Wilkening

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  • TripAdvisor is irreplaceable

    As a travel consultant, I always check Trip Advisor before I recommend a hotel to clients, even if it is one that I have stayed in myself. Things change, so I'd like to see what is current about the hotel. Also, it helps to have more than one opinion-- more than just my own opinion. Mostly, it helps to have TA's comparisons of hotels so that I can know how my recommended hotel stacks up against other hotels. A review website controlled by just one hotel chain won't have comparisons with non-chain hotels, will it? Finally, because the database on TA is so huge now for hotels, I can now be fairly sure to find obscure info about a hotel I'm considering recommending, such as whether swimmers need beach shoes because of rocks in the surfline (search for "beach shoes" and the hotel name) or what the experience of wedding couples has been who have had a destination wedding at a particular hotel. I can't imagine not continuing to use Trip Advisor. In any case, if there are fraudulent reviews, hotel managers can post a reply that says that. And anyone can read between the lines to figure out when a review is off the mark.

    By Carole Brow, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • We Also Get Fleeced Down

    I run a voluntourism company and I can't begin to tell you the number of review sites up and running now and will do anything to drive traffic to their sites and earn money. now allows companies to pay them $500/year and that allows you to contest a bad review. No pay? You have to live with the review. is holding a contest to get more and more reviews on volunteer abroad programs. Why? To get more traffic to their site. even has 15 of our programs listed that we have not run for 5 years and a logo that is out of date. They want traffic to sell online ads. Do organizations pay for reviews? Yes. Do competitors post negative reviews? Yes. Do ANY of them ask for a name, an email address for follow up or have a way to verify the person actually went on the program? No. Do they keep reviews that are old? Yes. Congrats to Starwood. We are thinking about doing the same thing. Review sites exist to do one thing. Make money. At the expense, sometimes, of someone's company.

    By Randy LeGrant, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

  • Credibility requires preventing censorship

    Zero credibility for hotel-controlled reviews UNLESS they guarantee publication (that guarantee better be truthful or else people will publish details of the censorship on TripAdvisor, which would really hurt): BUT they can offset negative reviews by simultaneously publishing details of what they did to meet the criticisms, and encourage new guests to check the improvements. That means SERIOUS management attention to quality control.

    By michael scriven, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

  • online reviews of hotels

    As a travel professional I welcome this news! Long overdue.

    By Usha Rao, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

  • Hotel reviews always biased

    If a hotel chain (Starwood) controlled their own review system, I would think they could control every aspect of it, to include deleting negative reviews. Third party review providers (Trip Advisor) offer more candid reviews. Sure, reviews can be skewed or false from anyone, but really, take it with a grain of salt and use other reviews from different sources before you make a reservation.

    By William Knight, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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