REPORT FROM THE U.S.—As the role of social media evolves, there have been a few recurring themes that seem to garner the lion’s share of attention from hoteliers. Among those issues, dealing with the guest feedback on sites such as TripAdvisor has been a particularly popular concern.
TripAdvisor recently launched a series of regional Master Classes to address hoteliers’ concerns and misconceptions. The education project has been successful, according to Brian Payea, head of industry relations for the company, who leads portions of the classes.
“We bring an awful lot of information to the audience and we bring a lot of resources out for them to use,” he said. “We definitely want to correct any misinformation … fill in some gaps. There are lots of people who have limited knowledge about what we’re all about.”
head of industry relations
But there always seems to be a few hotel owners/operators who believe they are victims of fake reviews. What about them?
“We can’t go into a tremendous amount of detail,” Payea said. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraud. We have many resources. It’s a pretty sophisticated operation with a huge number of engineers to work on the computer-based tools to put against that, developing automated filters and resources to look at that huge amount of information and look at clues on those 45 million reviews.”
Payea said there also is a team that investigates “any hint” that information should come down. He declined to say how many people are on this team or how many reviews had been taken down because of suspected fraud, stating the need for confidentiality in these matters.
He added TripAdvisor reviews correlate closely to customer satisfaction tracked through other channels, according to anecdotal evidence from hotels.
Furthermore, Market Metrix released study findings Tuesday (http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4052085.html) that indicate “the mean scores of hotels track very consistently and closely between TripAdvisor and the (Market Metrix Hospitality Index).”
The study concluded reviews for a particular hotel are a reliable measure of average customer satisfaction of that hotel, given adequate sample size. The variability of scores was found to be slightly greater among TripAdvisor hotels.
For the study, customer evaluations for 67 hotels were directly compared using TripAdvisor and MMHI data for 12 months.
“The concept of being suspect of feedback is almost a little passé,” Payea said during an interview last week.
Indeed, despite the hotelier gripes about negative feedback, TripAdvisor asserts more than 250 companies feature its content, including destination marketing organizations, hotel chains, airlines and online travel agencies. And more than 20,000 websites use TripAdvisor badges, such as “Recommended On,” “Bravo!” and the “What's Nearby?” widget.
More on Master Classes
TripAdvisor hosted five classes in 2010 and has a full roster for the summer.
“We invite as many as we can in the industry to come in and hear and participate in engagement stations and talk one-to-one with people from all parts of the company—the product team, customer service, sales team. They’re all talking about ways (owners) can add information to their site to market to this audience,” Payea said of the classes.
Upcoming Master Class dates and locations:
• Montreal: 26 July
• Jakarta, Indonesia: 26 July
• Bali, Indonesia: 28 July
• Bangkok: 2 August
• Phuket, Thailand: 4 August
• Chicago: 9 August
• Dallas: 30 August