Hotel takes action against an online reviewer, longevity of last-minute mobile hotel booking services, and dodgy tactics to get positive reviews on the web...
These three articles stood out for me during 2013.
Hotel sues guest for posting review on TripAdvisor about bed bugs
A guest who stayed in Hotel Quebec in Canada found bed bugs in his room. He alerted the hotel staff, however, he also wrote a negative review on TripAdvisor highlighting the incident at the hotel.
The hotel did the unusual approach of suing the guest for $95,000. Tnooz spoke to Hotel Quebec, TripAdvisor, and few other hoteliers to understand their point of view regarding this incident.
This is clearly an interesting case and should make hoteliers think hard about guest reviews and how to manage them:
- Under what circumstances can a hotel ask guests to remove reviews from sites such as TripAdvisor?
- When a customer has evidence (video tape, pictures) to prove his/her review, can a hotel still go ahead and sue the guest because of potential loss in business for the hotel?
- Assume a hotel sues a guest and wins the case to remove the review from the web – wouldn’t this be seen as an example for all other hoteliers to sue guests who write negative reviews?
- Will such a case set a precedent that will put off guests from writing negative reviews?
This article brought to light the legalities involved around writing a review. Also, the article highlights how serious a hotel can get when it comes to negative reviews that hampers the brand and revenue.
Will last minute hotel booking players really disappear in three years?
Last-minute hotel booking players are on the rise across the globe. Many are well funded, expanded to multiple countries, and consolidation has also happened in this market.
This being the case, HRS CEO Tobias Ragge made a statement that majority of last minute hotel booking players will disappear in three years.
Tnooz spoke to Ragge to get more details about his statement, and also spoke to the standalone players in the market like HotelQuickly and HotelTonight.
To top it all, Mobile Travel Technologies (MTT) launched a white labelled mobile app that hoteliers can use it as their own last minute hotel booking channel. Tnooz also spoke to MTT.
This is a story with multiple interesting and contrasting viewpoints, such as:
- High customer acquisition cost for standalone players vs travel brands that have last minute bookings as yet another sales channel.
- Hoteliers having their own last minute app vs an intermediary player. The pros and cons involved in both approach.
- Standalone last minute booking players proving with data about their growth vs speculation about the success of the model.
For people who are planning to launch a last minute hotel reservation (I know of a person who is planning) startup, for companies that are already in this business, for hoteliers who are considering last minute reservation as another distribution channel, and for travel sellers (like OTAs) that sells last minute hotels - this article plays devil's advocate.
Inside the murky world of gaming hotel reviews (and TripAdvisor’s stealthy response)
An Australia-based hotelier received a strange email from a company by name Hotel Oracle stating that it can help the hotelier with packages of positive/seeded reviews for his hotel in TripAdvisor.
The hotelier forwarded the email to Tnooz. Our editor Kevin May and I investigated the proposition by Hotel Oracle, and spoke to TripAdvisor to clarify the legality behind this process.
There are few interesting elements that came to light as a result of story:
- Immediately after this article was published, Hotel Oracle shut its site and put up a "maintenance" page. Nevertheless, a few days later the website was up and running again. Five months on and the site is once again in maintenance mode. Back in August, Hotel Oracle claimed much of the information in the email exchanges and on its website was not true.
- TripAdvisor told us that it has actually created companies that constantly keep a check on hoteliers who fall for seeded reviews (by engaging with companies like Hotel Oracle). TripAdvisor never confirmed if Hotel Oracle was one of its ghost companies. We suspect not, on this occasion.
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