About TrueGuest

Headquartered in Los Angeles, TrueGuest was created by former hotel executives to serve the hospitality industry by measuring and improving guest service and internal controls. Our Service Experience Audits are used by top brands such as Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Marriott, Renaissance, Hilton, Hyatt, W Hotels, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Radisson, Holiday Inn, Wyndham, and many more.

Hotel fines $500 for every bad review posted online, served some street justice by Reddit

Yelp-LogoA small hotel in Hudson, NY thought it would be a great idea to threaten wedding couples with a $500 fee for any negative reviews posted by their wedding attendees.  From the Page Six article:

A hotel in tony Hudson, NY, has found a novel way to keep negative reviews off Yelpand other sites — fine any grousing guests.

The Union Street Guest House, near Catskills estates built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, charges couples who book weddings at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

If you take down the nasty review, you’ll get your money back. Continue reading

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

There 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

JD Power: Hotel Satisfaction Reaches Record High

According to the newest JD Power rankings, hotel guest satisfaction has reached its highest level since 2006.  From the article:

The study, now in its 18th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; midscale full service; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees.

Overall satisfaction in 2014 averages 784 points on a 1000-point scale, up 27 points from 2012, with significant improvement in all segments except upper extended stay and extended stay, where satisfaction remains stable. The midscale segment posts the largest year-over-year improvement, increasing by 10 points to 801, which is the first time satisfaction in the segment has surpassed 800 points.

According to JD Power, here are the brands that scored the highest in each category:1 Luxury

  • Luxury: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Upper Upscale: Kimpton Hotels (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn
  • Midscale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a fourth consecutive year)
  • Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a ninth consecutive year)
  • Economy/Budget: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upper Extended Stay: Homewood Suites by Hilton (for a second consecutive year)
  • Extended Stay: Candlewood Suites

Continue reading

The Telepgraph – Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers’

We’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:

Continue reading

Share, Like, Tweet, Repeat…Get Marriott Rewards “PlusPoints”

Marriott LogoMarriott finds a way to make tweeting even more rewarding!  If you are one of those people who love to tweet, share, or Instagram everything that you are doing, you are going to love this.  From the press release:

Are you constantly sharing with friends, family and colleagues on social media?  Now, once again, Marriott Rewards is changing the game with PlusPoints, a new, easy and fast way to earn points whenever and however you connect.  All those Likes, Tweets, re-Tweets, Instagram posts and Foursquare check-ins can instantly result in up to 2,000 PlusPoints per month.  Download image.

“Our members have been supporting and talking about Marriott Rewards and our hotels on social media for years and we think PlusPoints will be a fun and innovative way to say thanks and to keep the conversation going,” said Rich Toohey, vice president, Marriott Rewards.  “It is another bold step in making Marriott Rewards an active participant beyond the travel experience and engaging our members as they connect with their social networks.”

With PlusPoints, Marriott Rewards members see their points accumulate immediately, in real time.  PlusPoints can be earned everyday through social media sharing – enrolled members will receive 25 points each time they share content about Marriott Rewards and our hotels and 250 points when they Like a hotel’s Facebook page or follow a property on Twitter. PlusPoints are instantly loaded into the member’s Marriott Rewards account and a confirmation will be sent by email.

With PlusPoint’s easy and instant way to earn points, Marriott Rewards is also offering low-point redemption options. For as little as 5,000 points, members can purchase a $10 gift card for Best Buy, Gap, Lowes or Macy’s or view a variety of merchandise options.  Members can also spend 7,500 points for a $15 iTunes gift card. To get started and begin earning PlusPoints, visit www.marriottrewardspluspoints.com.

Is this an exciting new program?  You bet!  Is it bribery?  Nah, we prefer to say ‘viral marketing’.

Source:  Marriott Press Release

Hotel Management: Strong occupancy and higher ADR lead to lower guest satisfaction?

MarketMetrixWEBGreat post today from hotelmanagment.net: the higher the ADR and occupancy, the lower your guest satisfaction scores will be.  From the article:

Global customer satisfaction with hospitality experiences continued to decline during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new data released by Market Metrix.  Customer satisfaction scores declined two tenths of a point in the Americas during the fourth quarter, and seven tenths of a point versus the same period a year ago. Scores also declined in Europe. Strengthening occupancy and higher prices during this period appear to be the likely reasons.

We easily spotted this trend starting in about 2008.  As soon as the economy struggled and hotel rates plummeted, guest satisfaction shot right up.  Many of the numbers reported by JD Power were record highs.  It turns out that people love a great deal.  From the article:

Continue reading

AAA Extends Five Diamond Honor to 6 Additional Hotels and 8 Restaurants for 2014

aaa-five-diamond-award

AAA’s new 2014 Diamond Ratings are now out.  This year, AAA added 14 additional hotels and 14 restaurants to their top rating.  However, AAA also downgraded 7 hotels from a Five-Diamond Rating to a Four-Diamond Rating.  There are currently 124 Five-Diamond Hotels in North America (only about .4 percent of all hotels).

Here are the new Five-Diamond Hotels:

  • Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
  • Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
  • Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada
  • Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Here are the new Five-Diamond Restaurants:

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
  • Acadia, Chicago, Ill.
  • Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
  • Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.
  • Per Se, New York, N.Y.
  • Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada
  • Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada
  • Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Congratulations to the new award winners!  About a year or so, we wrote an article detailing how much harder it would be in 2013 to pass the Five-Diamond certification.  Basically, you have to score 78 percent now, compared to 69 percent in the past.  From the AAA press release: Continue reading

Four Hotel Companies Make it on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 2014 List

Fortune Magazine released their 2014 Best 100 Companies to Work For List.  Google was number one again this year, but 4 hotel companies made the list.  Kimpton Hotels, Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels, and Hyatt Hotels all made the best of list for 2014.  Kimpton, Marriott, and Four Seasons were all on the list last year.  Hyatt Hotels is the only newcomer.  Four Seasons and Marriott Hotels are two of only 13 companies that have made the list every year since it began in 1998.

Here are the 4 with their rankings from Fortune:

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The hotel minibar may soon be extinct – LA Times

Say it ain’t so!  According to a recent survey by TripAdvisor, the hotel minibar was the least important amenity for U.S. travelers.  According to the LA Times article:

Only 21% of travelers ranked the mini-bar as an important amenity, compared to 89% who called free in-room wireless Internet the most important.

There is little financial reason to keep minibars. Hotel consulting firms estimate that minibars generate no more than 0.24% of total hotel revenue, with much of that eaten up by the cost to check and restock the bars.

Companies that build and sell automated minibars that electronically charge guests when a drink or snack is removed from the bar say they can cut the labor costs by up to 60%.

Still, industry experts say minibars won’t be around for long.

While it will be sad to see the minibars leaving, one of the reasons why they fell out of favor is pretty exciting.  From the article: Continue reading

Tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014 – Hotel Management

Hotel Management posted their top tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014.  Among their tips:

Focus on millennials. This generation is characterized by high expectations, disposable incomes and a thirst for new trends. “As millennial continue to invest in the experiential value of dining, eye-catching drink presentation as well as innovative and even adventurous ingredients will continue to drive incremental sales particularly in casual and upscale dining concepts in 2014,” Melanie Austin, account executive at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, told Nightclub & Bar.

Simplicity should be left behind. Operators are encouraged to think outside of the box and innovate, as guests are becoming tired of repetition in hospitality and want to see personality in the properties they visit. It’s open season for hotels to start taking chances on how to attract customers.

Social media is also expected to continue to climb in popularity and utility throughout 2014, and there is also expected to be more social media options available to both guests and operators. Hashtags are now a marketing tool, and it is important to learn to use them in cross-promotion.

Ok, this may not exactly be helpful to you if you are running a hotel with a typical lobby bar.  That is where TrueGuest can offer a few more tips. Continue reading