USA Today – You call this a five-star hotel?

Grand Hotel PlazaThere is a great article in today’s USA Today about a problem we’ve complained about for years: websites overstating the quality of hotels.  The culprit is a hotel in Rome that Priceline.com was selling as a 5-Star hotel.  Spoiler alert: the hotel is far from a 5-Star hotel.  From the article:

We recently stayed a few nights in Rome before a Mediterranean cruise. We were traveling with family, including my in-laws. We booked a five-star hotel, the Hotel Grand Plaza, through Priceline.com. We were excited because the hotel website looked great.

When we got there, we found the property was old and tired and the rooms we had booked each had significant deferred maintenance. For example, in one room, water continuously dripped from the bathroom ceiling onto the toilet seat. The electrical faceplate in one room was lying on the floor, leaving wires exposed in a room where small children were staying. Another room had no closet, only a plywood armoire that was too narrow for the four hangers inside to hang properly. One room had a tub but no shower curtain, so water went all over the floor. The list goes on.

USA Today did a little digging and found that Priceline.com was overstating the quality of the hotel.  From the article: Continue reading

The Telepgraph – Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers’

blackmail-messageWe’ve heard a little chatter over the years about guests blackmailing hotels to remove negative reviews.  Our hoteliers from across the pond have been apparently experiencing the same problems.  From the Telegraph:

Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website, hospitality chiefs have warned.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. They say the guests often make a complaint and say they will post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert or a bill reduction.

Other “gastronomic blackmailers” even claim that they work for TripAdvisor and will post a series of negative comments unless they get free upgrades.

Hopefully a solution is on the way.  From the article:

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Starwood Now Allows Guests To Post Reviews On Starwood.com

We have been talking about hotels managing their internet reputation ever since the days of MySpace.  Yes, that long ago!  One of our recommendations was to allow guests to post reviews directly onto your own website, instead of a third party site like TripAdvisor.  Finally, a hotel company has gotten it right!  Starwood.com will now allow guests to post reviews (good and bad we assume) after check out.  Guests can post a review for a visit within 18 months after logging in and verifying that they were a guest of the hotel.  They currently have the following guidelines for posting reviews:

  1. Keep your review focused on the hotel
  2. Contact us if you have an issue that requires immediate assistance
  3. Refrain from mentioning competitors or the specific price you paid for the hotel
  4. Do not include any personally identifiable information, such as full names