Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Running scared of the net

I had just stepped out of the shower when there was a knock on my hotel door.

Jumping into some shorts, I peered out of my door to find the hotel's customer relations manager smiling back at me.

Despite catching me in half undressed state and at a clearly inconvenient time, he was very keen to come inside to talk to me.  

So I let him in.

No, this isn't the opening scene of an adult film.  Instead, it's just one more indication of how hotels around the world are running scared of negative online reviews.

On this occasion, the customer relations manager wanted to see if I was enjoying my stay and whether there was anything else the hotel could do to ensure I had a pleasant visit.

He also gave me a customer feedback form to fill out; the same form reception gave me when I checked in and the same form I found resting on my pillow when I opened my room for the first time.  I was accumulating a tidy collection of these forms by now.
One of my many feedback forms
The manager stressed how he would much rather hear of any customer issues now, when he could do something about them, rather than discover them online once a guest had checked out.   The not-so-subtle message was clear: "please don't post a negative comment of us on TripAdvisor or".

I liked the personal touch to try and ward off negative online reviews, but also pitied this guy who had to interrogate the hotel's guests each night. prides itself on authenticated reviews 
It reminded me of other recent hotel stays where, instead of asking for feedback, hotel staff have practically begged for positive online reviews.  Some go as far as giving you a card to remind you to review their hotel on TripAdvisor or chase you up with an email once you've checked out.

It's all has an air of desperation about it.  Clearly, the power of online reviews is growing and negative comments are hurting.

I guess this paranoia is understandable for two reasons.  

Firstly, like most travellers, I do check out TripAdvisor and other reviews before booking a hotel online.  If I see words like "noisy", "unclean" or "avoid" then it will sway my opinion.

Secondly, hotels understand that people generally only "find the time" to review a property if they've had a bad experience and are seeking revenge.  This trend means hotel reviews have a danger of always being weighted towards the average or negative rating.'s review stats

I've yet to submit an online hotel review.  

I rarely go back to the same hotel and I figure it's all in the past once I've checked out.  If I didn't like it, I won't come back.  Thankfully, I've also never really had a completely awful experience that's spurred me to plot the downfall of a particular hotel.

This also means that despite my promises to the customer relations manager, I didn't complete any of my three hotel feedback forms.
One question not asked: how can we persuade you not to write a negative online review

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