And Those Reviews Carry Big Clout in Hotel Renovations Decisions
By Sally Gillie
Hotel review websites get thousands of posts every day, and hotel executives are taking them seriously come renovation time.
Traveler reviews that criticized the poor lighting in bathrooms at the Loews Regency, New York, prompted its design team to address that issue in recent upgrades.
The brightness factor in the new baths at the Loews Regency Park Avenue has been ramped up considerably with additional lighting and Loft Mirror TVs from Electric Mirror that have reviewers singling out the bath amenities for special praise on such sites as TripAdvisor.
A recent New York Times story on the growing clout of hotel review websites quoted Loews president and chief executive Paul Whetsell, who said, “Sometimes designers design our bathrooms to look good but not necessarily be totally functional. Lighting is something that’s mentioned on social (media) quite often.”
The article reported that popular review websites such as Trip Advisor and Yelpare a major factor in hospitality project spending, which this year could reach an unprecedented $6 billion. “It’s become a widely understood source of input for capital expenditures,” said Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. He said, “Rates have gone up, so guests are expecting to see that reflected in the quality.”
It’s understood that people are more likely to complain on review sites and on social media, because it’s a forum that’s less confrontational than going head to head with hotel staff.
These review sites carry substantial clout with travelers booking rooms, which is why hotel principals are taking note of guest comments. A July 2014 article in the LA Times, asserts that while guest satisfaction with hotels is the highest it’s been in several years, today’s traveler is more likely to heavily research a room online and be swayed by what they read.
The article, based on an annual survey byJ.D. Power, found that those guests selecting a hotel based on price fell from 19% in 2013 to 12% in 2014; while the percentage of those who researched heavily online rose from 7% to 10%. The article said, “Satisfaction with hotels has climbed to the highest level since 2006, with fewer guests choosing a hotel primarily on price and more making a choice based on online reviews.”
It also found that Gen Y guests, or those born between 1977 and 1996, are more critical when reviewing a hotel for the first time than older guests. The Gen Y reviews also show they’re more influenced by the treatment they get from hotel staff.
According to travel blog Touropia, the most popular hotel review website is TripAdvisor, with 45 million reviews on hotels around the world. Booking.com, with monthly traffic of 30 million, is the most popular booking site and it also offers reviews. Other highly trafficked review sites include Hotels.com, Yelp, Orbitz, Priceline, and Expedia.