star rating
939 days ago
 

War on fake travel content intensifies – now it is time to rate the hotel review sites

In a bizarre twist in the battle to rid the industry of fraudulent reviews, reputation management firm Kwikchex has unveiled a star-rating system for  review sites.

Under the system, review sites are awarded a star-rating from five (for sites where reviewers are identified and purchase of a product or service is verified) to one star (those that have little means to authenticate the content).

In this latest move, Kwikchex is setting itself up as the consumer champion and the company plans to publish its ratings, with companies welcome to challenge them if they disagree.

Chris Emmins, boss of the reputation management firm, stresses consumer reassurance has always been a core focus for the company which has been building up a ‘global consumer group’ and plans to extend it to act as part of its ‘quality assurance resource’.

It has already ‘provisionally’ awarded Booking.com five stars, TripAdvisor and Yelp two stars and Google reviews one star, and says it is contacting site owners once it has published a rating.

Alongside the star-rating system, Kwikchex is also making a submission to the Securities & Exchange Commission regarding concerns it has over TripAdvisor’s ability to authenticate reviews.

A further submission to the European Court of Human Rights is also being made regarding individuals being unable to defend themselves against defamation and harassment online.

In January, following a complaint made by Kwikchex, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against TripAdvisor saying the site should stop claiming reviews are real, honest or trusted.

Here is the rating criteria in full:

NB: Rating image via Shutterstock.

 
 
Linda Fox

About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Walter

    A rating system may have some merit and the comfort level that a reviewer has actually made a booking at the property, no guarantee they actually stayed, delivers some comfort.

    However, accepting a negative comment without providing the hotel a right to a response on the forum is not acceptable. Booking.com needs to change and stop bullying hoteliers that
    use their service.

    Take the example of a hotel losing power from the grid during the peak morning showering and breakfast window. We had this happen to us. The interlink between electrical extraction systems and gas powered water heaters and gas cooking equipment causes everything to be unusable.

    The guest writes “this hotel had cold showers and a poor breakfast” when the fact of the matter is there is a real mitigating circumstance that cannot be posted as a visible response to the guests review.

    In the interest of full disclosure, not to mention fairness, booking.com has got to change.

     
  2. Who Will Review and Rank the Review Sites?

    [...] Chris Emmins, the move to hold review sites to a higher standard is gaining traction. Writing in tNooz,  Linda Fox reports on a rating system for review [...]

     
  3. Who Will Review (and Rank) the Review Sites? | WebTool Plugin For WordPress

    [...] Chris Emmins, the move to hold review sites to a higher standard is gaining traction.Writing in tNooz , Linda Fox reports on a rating system for review [...]

     
  4. Recensire i siti di Recensioni? TripAdvisor si difende e accusa i suoi detrattori | Booking Blog™ - Il blog del Web Marketing Turistico

    [...] blog Tnooz, è intervenuto lo stesso fondatore di Kwikchex Chris Emmings, promettendo che presto tutti i [...]

     
  5. TripAdvisor critic will rank hotel review sites |

    [...] According to Tnooz.com, Kwikchex will award as many as five stars for sites where reviewers are identified and the purchase of a product or service is verified, and as little as one star for those that have little means to authenticate their content. [...]

     
  6. Selected Tech/Travel Articles for April 30 2012 « TechTravel Review

    [...] a recent post I mentioned  Kwikchex’s new “review the reviewers” site. TripAdvisor is not taking the criticism lying down, pointing out Kwikchex’s conflict of [...]

     
  7. TripAdvisor critic will rank hotel review sites | Journey News

    [...] According to Tnooz.com, Kwikchex will endowment as many as 5 stars for sites where reviewers are identified and a squeeze of a product or use is verified, and as small as one star for those that have small means to substantiate their content. [...]

     
  8. TripAdvisor critic will ‘rate the reviewers’ | Best in Travel News

    [...] According to Tnooz.com, Kwikchex will award as many as five stars for sites where reviewers are identified and the purchase of a product or service is verified, and as little as one star for those that have little means to authenticate their content. [...]

     
  9. jeff

    This debate seems to be doing the usual speak – non hoteliers thinking that the consumer should be FREE to say what they want and Hoteliers wanting some protection against dishonest reviews.

    I think that all the non hoteliers would shift opinions to come inline with the hoteliers if they worked 18 hours a day, sacrificed everything and risked their whole financial future on the success of a hotel just for some idiot who you told off at 2am in the morning for making too much noise or banned for smoking in their room trash’s you on say TA and maybe gets 10 of his mates to do the same thing and again the playground bully wins over the good guy!

    NO hotelier wants to stop a Guest who even in their own mind has genuienly had a bad experience writting about it – what we dont want is to be at the mercy of idiots who will seek revenge when they are for example confronted for the reasons i have mentioned above.

    WE last summer had a big 4×4 park in our car park and the parents took their child out and let it relieve itself in our car park – i went out and told them to move on – that night our hotel was trashed on-line I was called a drunk my wife (who is Chineses) an illegal imigrant – dreadful!!

    So i think all Hoteliers ask is safeguards – when we highlight a review to TA or anyone else that we feel is dishonest to be assured that the Guest has prove that they stayed with us. Simply really!!

    WE could go on and ask what the purpose of a review is and if one is to improve the quality of hotels – which surely it is, it would be easier for us to addrerss issues if we knew the facts – eg complaint was – I had a bad experience when checking in – if I have 10 receptionists then if I knew the Guest name I would know when dealt with them and address it – i had a problem with my bed – if I have 200 beds then to know the Guest means I know the room so can deal with it. So there are also real reasons why Guests might be best helped by providing enough information to correct the issues that they raise.

    However i would simply stick with my main request that is where a hotelier contests a review that they suspect is dishonest they are given enough information by the Review Site to be able to prove this either way. JEFF

     
    • Robert Gilmour

      Totally agree with you Jeff and glad to concur i was starting to think i was losing the plot.

      Anyway we need to get back to the topi now after all the views it has generated.

       
      • Lizzie

        I agree with Jeff too, guests are holding hoteliers and B&Bs to ransom with the threat of bad reviews. We have to put up with behaviour that we shouldn’t have to in case of a bad review. Anonymity brings bravery. I fully appreciate the comments about some hoteliers writing vicious replies to people who post negative reviews of their establishment, but I would imagine on the whole they are in the minority. I always used to email my B.com anonymous reviews if they were even slightly negative to apologise for their unhappy stay and ask for feedback on why they were not happy. Needless to say most people never replied, possibly because they weren’t really that unhappy, but they may have just not liked us. I had one woman say she would never come back because she was too hot! It was a very hot weekend, nothing I can do about that, she never once complained, just smiled telling me what a lovely time she was having. How can we make it better if people don’t tell us at the point of contact, but instead write unnecessarily spiteful reviews ANONYMOUSLY.

         
        • Robert Gilmour

          Lizzie

          Totally agree

          In view of the comments on this topic, i asked a sample of my 185 hotel clients whether they thought a reviewer should have rights to anonymity, they all said DEFINITELY NOT – if they criticise us in public, they should be prepared to be named (and shamed) in public – It follows

           
  10. Emo

    You can criticise some of the methodology but perhaps this informs the debate

    Skip to page 7 graphics

    http://www.cs.cornell.edu/~myleott/prevalence_WWW2012.pdf

     
  11. Laura

    This is so funny that Kwikchex claims to find the magic formula of getting rid of fake reviews when they describe themselves as an “Online Reputation Management and other services”. They are not an authority in themselves. If they are an online reputation company, where do you think they get money from? They are taking us for bloody fools because internet users are not paying to visit websites. Hoteliers do pay for their online reputation. So do you think they will dump a hotel with true bad reviews if the hotel is a client of theirs? I have doubts.

    Booking.com awarded 5 stars, this is another sh**. Was there some kind of launching promo of the magic formula or is it only a web marketing strategy ? Have you tried Booking? Interactions zero with the reviewers.

    Tripadvisor doesn’t even deserve half of a star after all the fakes they have published and all the lawsuites against them for this purpose. Have you tried posting something there? I just wrote one, fake of course, let’s wait and see if it is published. If it is, I’ll be curious to know how the stars are awarded by Kwixchex and how trustworthy they are. But they wouldn’t reply, would they? :-)

     
    • Robert Gilmour

      Laura i am with you, the whole thing’s laughable, and really pretty pointless too.

      Trip Advisor are the publishers, unless they can, and are prepared to, verify that the guest who wrote the review actually visited the hotel, and preferably stayed (as the competitor hotel down the road probably wouldn’t have done) – we might as well end the conversation now. TA are not for changing. This is about commerce v whim and fancy, the commercial approach in this case is bound to win.

      We just have to take the reviews for what they are. Rely more on e.g. Booking.com and lateRooms reviews if you ask me, at least they can only be from guess who booked the hotel via these OTA’s

       
  12. Louisa Priestley

    I have long been against trip advisor as I know many reviews are left by venues themselves, plus one person’s idea of a 5 star hotel may not be mine. For that reason I created a website giving independent recommendations for places. I don’t post bad reviews, only good.
    I would be happy to be rated and I would use the criteria to achieve higher ratings if necessary. People need trusted advice and it is hard to find reviews which are genuinely unbiased, if a rating service helps people do that, I’m all in favour.

     
    • Tim

      If only good reviews are posted, it is hardly trusted and unbiased advice. Is it?

       
      • Louisa

        Of course, if places aren’t good enough to go on there, I don’t add them.

         
  13. On “verified” hotel reviews at Unwrapped travel

    [...] thread over on my favourite travel news site Tnooz is (once again) discussing the ins and outs and debating the value of having a system of [...]

     
  14. Reliable Travel Ratings At-Hand? | At-Hand Guides

    [...] “problem” has finally become so pervasive it has spawned at “rating service” for the travel “rating services” reports TNooz, the leading travel industry technology [...]

     
  15. Billige Flüge

    In my opinion it is a very good idea to rate all the sites, but will the rating ever stop? Soon we will be rating the next level sites…… It will never stop….

    greetz

     
    • Robert Gilmour

      Until i know who the reviewers are, my jury’s totally pout on this one

       
      • Johann Wu

        I am a frequent reviewer of hotels on tripadvisor, and working in chinese regional cities often am the first non Chinese person to review some of the hotels, and stay over 150 nights a year in hotels, mostly independent.

        By posting without fear of the hotel knowing who I am, I am more honest in my feedback, as I often have to return to that hotel over and over again. Hotels may not like this, but tough. Virtually every other form of review is paid for by the hotel.

        These review sites, of which tripadvisor has by far the largest content, provide an overview of the hotel and allow the visitor to look behind brand franchise, and the sugar sweet PR rubbish written by the hotel to see what the hotel is really like.

        If hotel staff are lazy, I should be able to say so. If hotel bathrooms are filthy or if the hotel process doesn’t work I should be able to say so, without worrying about being turned away the next time I turn up.

        I am happy to provide proof of stay… Booking confirmation, etc to the aggregator, but not post under my name.

        Rating the rating sites is a joke. It’s just a money making enterprise.

         
        • Tim

          Totally agree. Reviews are supposed to be an unbiased and independent opinion of the reviewer. Giving the reviewer the freedom to tell the truth about a place leads to more trustworthy content, which is something that is going to be useful to other travellers. Reviewers should be protected from hostile hoteliers and allowed to write accurate and honest reviews without fear of (sometimes) unreasonable hotel staff.

          Hotels shouldn’t have a say in the review process, otherwise it isn’t independent. So get the hotel’s own description off the hotel off the review websites and get hotel reputation management companies out of the picture since they are only going to bias the review in the favour of their clients. The biggest problem with review sites isn’t anonymous reviewers, it is hotels trying to post fraudulent reviews. Again it is the hotel at fault, so the blame shouldn’t lie with the reviewer or the review website.

          We need more honest reviews by real travellers, that is what makes reviews useful to other travellers. We don’t need intervention by an organisation that is only looking out for the hotels’ interests; particularly when it is other hotels that are responsible for writing fraudulent reviews in the first place.

           
          • Robert Gilmour

            Tim, i fell you really have it in for the hotels/hostels, that strain echoes thro’out your responses. if hotels don’t have a say in the review ‘process’ then that’s just plain ridiculous. To set the rules of a game without the consent of all the players in it is just plain wrong, and is asking for trouble.

            i remain of the view that id someone criticises me in public i have every right to divulge their identity, and likewise they should expected to be identified i.e. put up or shut up. Unfortunately we live in a world of soft touch and undue tolerance. and this will probably never happen, but it should. We are men and women, not wimps – this society’s blind acceptance of ‘failure to stand up and be counted’ is highly pernicious.

            The public are often as fickle as the hoteliers you accuse of writing fake reviews &c ( by the way this is a principle I on’t condone, i abhor it) – and certainly do not deserve the right to be respected at all costs.

            The only sure fire way to eliminate fake reviews, is, unlike your stance, to INVOLVE both the hotel and the reviewer in the process, not ostracise the hotels, as Trip Advisor et all have very successfully done. That’s whats at the root of the whole problem.

            If you can’t resolve that, its totally pointless talking in riddles like reviewers reviewing reviewers, and infinity loops &c

             
          • Stuart McD

            This directed at @robert, seems due to comment nesting I can’t reply to his point.

            Robert, given you offer Hotel reputation management services, seems a bit hollow to have you accusing Tim of having it in for hotels.

            That aside, think perhaps we’re losing focus on the bigger picture. That being for decades, pre Internet, hotels controlled the conversation entirely. They comped agents and hacks and ran inspection tours ( for which, SHOCK HORROR) a stay wasn’t required and the pundits went home to fill the Sunday travel sections and punter’s ears with the bountiful nature of said properties.

            The only other source of info? Friends & guidebooks.

            How things change.

            Travel agents are withering on the vine as are newspaper Travel Sunday Shills and all of a sudden hotels a left grasping for a conversation that has moved elsewhere.

            A core missonception, which Tim hinted at above, is that somehow these reviews are intended to assist the hotel. They’re not. They are there to help other travellers.

            Simple really.

            Stuart

             
          • Robert Gilmour

            Stuart

            Never did i say that reviews were primarily to assist hotels, although of course they are helpful if hotels pay attention to them.(which not all do as we know)

            What I am saying is that to ostracise/alienate hotels from the review process is not the way to go. All players in the game need to know, understand and abide by the rules. Otherwise its an unregulated free for all, which is exactly what the present situation is, and looking also like that’s the way its going to continue, especially if yo keep the properties right out of it, that’s grossly unfair.

             
          • Tim

            Robert,

            I don’t have anything in for hotels/hostels. In fact a large part of my work involves recommending hostels to travellers through independent reviews and nothing makes me happier than to visit a hostel that does everything right with the perfect atmosphere and facilities (and of course happy travellers).

            However what I do feel strongly about is an independent media where honest opinion can be published without any bias, bullying or bribery. In other words travel guides and review sites are there to serve the traveller (not as a free PR outlet for hotels/hostels) and the content on those sites should be completely independent without hostels/hotels influencing reviews in their favour by bribery, fraud or intimidation.

            Content on review sites and travel guides should never have a description written by the property.

            If any editorial is featured to complement user reviews, that should be written by a professional travel writer who visits each property unannounced and an honest detailed review, perhaps including a rating that is completed using an objective rating criteria. Like user reviews, editorial reviews should be free of any bias and editorial staff should never, ever, under any circumstance accept any offers of free or discounted accommodation.

            There is a lot of poor quality content on the internet and as far as I’m aware, both Stuart’s and my sites are the only ones that really take this seriously with our own staff conducting independent reviews by professional travel writers to support any user generated content. In the past I would have added Lonely Planet to this list, but now they have content supplied by Expedia and HostelWorld (which in turn are written by hotel and hostel managers).

            Travellers should be welcome to write an honest review of a property without any intimidation or coercion from hostel/hotel management or staff or from any business that claims to represent the accommodation industry.

            There should never, ever, be any fraudulent reviews posted on review sites. I know it is difficult to manage (particularly on the big review sites) and occasionally a few may slip through the cracks. But there are methods for dealing with these and each site has their own proprietary system for controlling this. One thing that most hotel operators forget is that the blame lies with the other hotels that post these reviews, not with the review sites or travellers that use those sites. I can’t imagine anyone who runs a review site who doesn’t want fraudulent reviews banished forever.

            At BUG we had quite a big problem with this back in 1999/2000 and ended up making a massive upgrade to our review system to get this under control. Now we have a very time intensive process for approving reviews with most reviews taking a few days to be approved and some being being on hold for a month or longer while we check the origin of the review. We are currently about to embark on another major upgrade to our system which will further strengthen our position.

            We have a very successful process of dealing with fraudulent reviewers, which means that we very rarely have repeat offenders. When they realise that the consequences of posting a fraudulent review on BUG far outweigh any benefits, they move on to another site.

            Involving the hotel is never the answer to combating fraudulent reviews. Why would I share my methods with them so they can simply find a way around the safeguards that I have put in place.

            To truly have an independent review, the party being reviewed has to stay out of it. Otherwise it is not independent. Does a restaurant reviewer call ahead to warn the restaurant that they are coming? Of course not. They simply turn up, have a meal and then write about it. If there was some arrangement between the reviewer and the party being reviewed the review would be skewed in favour of the restaurant/hotel/hostel/etc. That would suit the accommodation/hospitality industry, but it is not in the interest of the traveller.

             
          • Robert Gilmour

            Tim, the current mess we’re apparently in I feel is EXACTLY because the hotels have been alienated, and this is absolutely nothing to do with the review being independent. There are no rules of the game, i repeat, its a free for all, and this one subject has antagonised more people in travel than just about any other, because review companies like Trip Advisor play by their own rules, don’t involve anyone, and of course are ‘independent’ according to your criteria. They are totally commercial, think they’re god, and have no concern either for traveller or hostelry.

            Its naive to tell hotels keep your nose out of it when they’re the centrepiece of the process. That high and mighty approach is a guarantee for failure. I’m sorry but i can’t accept a position where the subjects being reviewed are governed by a process in which they have absolutely no (strategic ) input. If a hotel (taking your point about QA and tourist boards and anonymous visits &c) doesn’t want to join the tourist board then they don’t have to. they know the rules, they know the framework for the review/inspection &c &c

            Exactly the opposite is true about e.g. Trip Advisor. Hotels are listed without their permission, and they haven’t a scoobie about the framework of the process, that’s because its unregulated, unstructured, riddled with holes and loopholes, fake reviews as a result, with respect done by amateurs, with no demographics, and god knows what all else.

            Is that the position we want to maintain going forward? surely not.

            I’m afraid you and i are just not going to agree on this one, i hear all that you say, and i as much as you want the review to be independent, but it’s simply naive to think you canv judge someone by a process that totally excludes them from the outset – AND WORSE STILL, IN TE PUBLIC DOMAIN. Everything in this day and age needs to have some terms of reference, surely. Even politicians do, apparently.

             
  16. Consumers entitled to voice their holiday experiences | AirLine For Me

    [...] I was reading a piece written by Linda Fox, a journalist at industry news site Tnooz, which highlights that a company [...]

     
  17. Gary Arndt

    I would like to announce my new site: Reviewstr.com

    Reviewstr will review sites that review, review sites. We believe that reviewing review reviewers is necessary for consumers.

    In addition to reviewing review reviewers, Reviewstr will also have a patented “infinity loop” technology where reviewers, review reviewers or even review review reviewers will be able to review Reviewstr.

     
  18. Tim

    This rating is biased towards the accommodation provider rather than those sites that look out for the consumer. That means that review sites with high ratings may often be those that don’t provide travellers with the best advice.

    For instance, virtually all review sites (except BUG) have a hotel description provided by the hotel. Even Lonely Planet includes descriptions provided by Expedia and HostelWorld (which are written by the hotel/hostel). A higher rating should be applied when the review site does not publish a blurb provided by the hotel/hostel, but instead has a professional travel writer visit the accommodation establishment unannounced to write an impartial review. Only BUG, Lonely Planet and travelfish are really in a position to do this.

    Review sites have their own methods for dealing with fraudulent reviews, but these should remain proprietary information as divulging this to an organisation on the payroll of hotel management would certainly lead to hotels gaming the system to place fraudulent reviews. Sure the methods used by review sites need continual improvement, but it would be a big step backwards if hotels are virtually given details on how they can game the system. In theory I agree that an independent body should check that policies are in place to monitor for fraudulent reviews, but this body should not be acting on behalf of the very hotels that review sites are trying to prevent fraudulent reviews from.

    I am also gravely concerned that the requirement to contact the reviewer may cause some review sites to pass on private contact details enabling hotel owners to make abusive threats to guests that write accurate reviews that need to be shared with other travellers. Although most hotel operators are reasonable people, we have had our share of horrific experiences with a handful of hostel managers to know the importance of keeping reviewers details private. If someone contacts BUG to enquire about making contact with a reviewer, we will pass on the message but we will never pass on the contact details.

    Although BUG’s algorithm gives more weight to reviews where we have verified that the reviewer has visited the accommodation establishment (and also includes a badge showing that we have verified that the reviewer has visited the property), it is important to include all reviews including those from travellers who choose not to book online. A true independent traveller, who is spontaneous by nature and chooses to not to book accommodation in advance should be respected and given a voice.

    The only thing I agree on is that the review site should allow a hotel/hostel manager to respond to a review to clear up any oversight on the reviewer’s part. However this is the only area where content provided by the hotel should ever appear on a review site.

    I think the point that Kwikchex and many hotel operators are forgetting is that reviews are supposed to represent independent consumer advice. They are never intended as free publicity and hotels and legal firms should never use their muscle to bully and push around review sites and have reviews removed or editing in their favour. Review sites that cave into this pressure are just doing their users a disservice.

    A lot of the time travellers really have a good reason to write a negative review. It is in the interest of other travellers and it is essential that travellers know the full picture without having having the most honest reviews covered up.

    It is clear that these ratings (using the above criteria) are of no service to the traveller as the rating criteria is biased towards helping hotels rather than their guests. Clearly Kwikchex are more concerned with helping hotels bully review sites, rather than helping review sites provide truly independent advice to travellers. Perhaps a rating system overseen by a completely independent body would be of more use to travellers.

     
    • Josh

      Agreed — reviewer information should be kept anonymous, though I believe that hostels can see exactly who left each review on some of the review sites.

       
        • Tim

          It respects the reviewers’ privacy and in some cases where a guest has felt threatened by hostel/hotel staff they may feel afraid to leave a review to warn other travellers if they are forced to identify themselves.

          However the algorithm that determines the overall rating should be skewed to give a higher portion of the total rating to those travellers who have given their real name and/or given proof that they have visited the place that they are reviewing.

           
          • Tim

            But more importantly, a reviewer’s contact details should never be passed on to a third party whether the reviewer used their real name or not. It is just basic decency (and most likely a legal requirement in many countries) to never release the details of any user of a website.

             
          • Robert Gilmour

            Couldn’t agree less, if you are to criiticse a business in public, you should be prepared to be identified. What kind of society are we in, I despair

            Time people stopped protecting joe public all the time. Clearly you haven’t been at the end of a public criticism, or I think you’d be agreeing with me

            There are would be professional critics doing the rounds with hotels, these people should be named and shamed, and told where to go.

            i think we’ll agree to disagree on this one. Anyway, i don’t know what all this review the reviewer stuff is actually indented to achieve – where it’s actually getting the industry – , can someone tell me the commercial objectives?

             
          • Josh

            IMHO, people should have to leave their names for the review site, but that information should never be made public or given to an accommodation provider against a reviewer’s will.

            Some people will not leave (accurate) negative reviews if they know the accommodation provider has their email address, credit card, home address, passport photocopy, etc. Not everyone who owns a hotel/hostel is entirely sane.

             
          • Robert Gilmour

            Josh, that’s as big an insult to the hotelier as it is to joe public. You need to square the circle here. If someone criticises me, i think i have a right to know who it is, I’m sorry – sane or not.

             
          • Tim

            If someone has a bad experience at a hotel (or any other business) they have every right to tell people about it; likewise if they have a good experience. Consumers have a right to their freedom of speech and there should be a choice of open forums where they can air their opinions and this opinion should never be restricted by some group of hoteliers intent on skewing opinion in their favour.

            It is up to the hotel management to ensure that guests are treated well and are given a clean and well-maintained place to stay. If you get that right, most of your reviews will be positive. Don’t worry about the odd negative review (there is always someone who may not enjoy their stay), but use the reviews as a means to learn about customer expectations so you continue to improve your service.

            Seriously, don’t get all worked up if someone didn’t like your hotel. Not everyone will have the best experience, but just because someone didn’t have the best time ever you have no right to prevent them from telling their friends.

            Travellers need negative reviews, otherwise all places seem the same and it is difficult to choose one place from another.

            Hotels need a few bad reviews so they know how they can improve. Also a few bad reviews gives more credibility to the good ones. If you only have good reviews people simply think they are fake, but the odd bad review in the mix makes it more authentic. With an ecommerce site I run, products with a mix of good and bad reviews outsell those with all good reviews and that is because customers trust those reviews.

            The really bad places should be weeded out so people don’t have bad experiences and to improve the image of the industry as a whole.

            We’re not trying to insult all hotel/hostel operators. Most of you do a fantastic job. But there are some shockers out there that need to be exposed. Sometimes the owner/operator simply isn’t a people person and service swings from brilliant to horrible depending on the weather, sometimes the owner is racist (I have been kicked down the stairs by a manger of a Greek hostel after he overheard me talk to other travellers about a planed trip to Turkey) and sometimes the place is falling apart (I have visited hotels with broken windows, no locks on the doors and a dirt floor).

            I have also had travellers phone me up in tears after a hostel owner overreacted to a bad review by sending hate mail and making offensive phone calls to the reviewer. This stuff happens and the reviewer needs to be protected.

             
  19. Robert Gilmour

    Pointless exercise if you ask me, just as pointless as trying to get Trip Advisor to only publish verified reviews.

     
  20. Consumers entitled to a voice to review experiences

    [...] I was reading a piece written by Linda Fox, a journalist at industry news site Tnooz, which highlights that Kwikchex, [...]

     
  21. Jacqueline Simpson

    What we really need is a site which brings together consumer reviews, ratings programs like AAA, journalist/professional travel writer reviews and Zagat type testing, social media reviews, all mashed up, and output as some kind of overall travel supplier rating. That would be heck of an algorithm!

     
  22. Mike

    Hi,
    1)I support the above comments regarding Booking.com.

    2)Has Kwixcheck looked at Eviivo and the reviews via Bookdirectrooms and Toprooms? Many small end privately owned Guest Houses and B&B’s are represented on their sites.

    3)Are there any plans to put the finalised ratings and rating criteria into the public domain? It is as good for consumers to be aware of the finalised results as it for industry insiders to know. Confidence is linked to credibility.

    4) How about some clarity for consumers about TA’s revenue streams .If consumers know how much TA’s business generates from pay to click advertising links, advertisments and subscriptions then that would be a balance to their perception of TA as a “for the consumer” rating tool.They are after all a massive ,highly profitable business who achieve fantastic s.e.o through consumer driven user generated content. They are not a charity, they have massive profits and their quest for profit informs the way that they run their site.
    Many consumers are unaware that online booking attracts high levels of commission and earnings for review sites.This will inevitably drive accommodation prices up or operator margins and quality down.

     
    • Chris Emmins, KwikChex

      Yes – we have looked at thousands of sites and know the ones you mention well. We will be publishing the info publicly. There will be considerably more info added to the profiles – and much more coming in the way of pertinent information and other actions

       
  23. jeff

    No Prob with the idea – not sure what it will achieve though.

    However how can B.com possibly be awarded 5 stars when their review system doesnt allow for any hotel reply on line??????????

    This is a MAJOR issue with their review system and means that Guests can get away with anything. Also everytime i have tried to challange a B.com review with B.com they have been less than helpful. Whereas Late Rooms do allow a hotel reply and are also very open to serious issues that a hotel might have with a complaint and will also ensure non publicatoon in certain circumstances.

    So please dont give B.com 5 Stars they no way deserve this rating!!

     
    • Chris Emmins, KwikChex

      Hi Jeff – addressed in my reply to Lizzie above – the info given out was an advance brief and is anticipating some changes on some sites according to information we have already been made aware of. This will be clarified when the ratings are actually published – and according to any adjustments made by sites, the ratings and additional information will also be edited accordingly on an ongoing basis.

       
      • Josh

        Chris, is booking.com a ‘private client’ of yours or will be in the coming days/months?

        Also how could you give out ‘provisional’ info when you haven’t clarified or adjusted any of the released information, so presuming there was no comments or objections for booking.com getting 5 stars, would you still have made this comment of ‘clarified when ratings are published’?
        Why release the ratings ‘ provisionally’? if you are sure about authenticating and ratings, you should release it once and not wait for reactions or disputes from the industry and then adjust.
        Doesn’t sound so authoritative if you need to adjust.. looks like you are testing the waters…

         
  24. Lizzie

    Actually Kwikchex have awarded Booking.com 5 stars but they don’t fulfil the specified criteria, as a hotel or B&B you are not given the right to reply online to guests and they have now removed the choice of replying to anonymous reviews, which are generally the ones where people are much braver. Historically you were able to access the information of every guest regardless of anonymity, they have now removed that choice from the hoteliers, so giving the reviewer free rein to post spiteful and quite often unfounded remarks and complaints. It is now impossible to respond to a specific “complaint” or review if the reviewer has chosen to conceal their identity. I believe reviewers should not, on any site, be allowed to remain anonymous. Therefore Booking.com should only be 1 star according to KwikChex criteria.

     
    • Chris Emmins, KwikChex

      Thanks for the observation Lizzie – when the data is actually published, we believe there will be some adjustments – not just from our side but also with regard to some features and methodology on the various reviews sites. As mentioned above, we released the information only as advance notice to enable the media to ask further questions and to allow the websites we are contacting (and those that have contacted us) to make adjustments. The feedback we are receiving from many sites has been very promising and we have been taking this into account prior to publication of the ratings – but we will have to see. We are also dealing in much greater depth with dispute resolutions, basing it on proposed changes to UK laws that have already passed from the Parliamentary Commission to the Justice Department (KwikChex has provided input with this. We will be publishing more soon.

       
  25. Chris Emmins, KwikChex

    Thanks Kevin – to answer the first point – no KwikChex has absolutely no relationship with Priceline or Booking.com. We have not even discussed any matter with them. Some websites have approached us about authentication and guidelines, notably Expedia, but we have taken nothing forward. Should we ever do so, we will declare it. As to the point hat Vincent makes – as explained in our release, this was only advance notice of a much larger project and the rankings we have mentioned only examples and provisional. Added to this will be other observations – pros and cons that will provide more information for consumers – and we fully expect and absolutely welcome feedback from consumers and people with industry knowledge. We are also recommending that reviews websites agree to an independent inspection, assessing aspects such as the capability of detecting fake reviews, examining the reasons for removal of reviews (both positive and negative) and also examining any relationships between the review site and companies that are paying them fees, so that consumers can be assured that this causes no distortion or favouritism. The facts are that these sites are already exceptionally influential, and many are carrying fraudulent and harmful content. It seems only right that in such circumstances, those that profit from turning the spotlight on the standards of other businesses, should be subject to scrutiny themselves. In as many cases as possible (as with the ASA investigation into TripAdvisor) we would like this to be done by impartial authorities – but there are some impracticalities there, so we are taking some steps ourselves.

     
    • Dante

      Wow! You are really trying to become the judge if this for your own benefit. Who are you again? You have an awful confict of interest here. Nobody can take your comments seriously. Are you trying to be Big Brother? The power of all thse sites is in the numbers, sheer volume of reviews. Take the good with the bad but at least I don’t take the “advise” from one person who decides to become God in this space. Web 2.0 is here to stay. I woud say that businesses better shape up and offer a better experience to the consumer. Only the ones with “issues” complain, the rest are very happy.

       
  26. Jon

    Booking.com’s reviews, whatever you think of their content and inability to respond, are from actual customers.

    No hotel site has anywhere near the number of verified reviews as Booking.com.

     
  27. Stuart McD

    Where do I give Kwikchex a five star rating for ambulance chasing?

     
  28. ildiko maria javor waddington

    My suggestion is that everyone who send a review should be obliged to put on
    The Complete Name. FB could be a interessting way to know about the reability.
    Ildiko Maria Javor Waddington

     
  29. Andy

    And then there’s the ‘Non-Disparagement clause’. Vacation rental Agencies are including it in the customers contract and then ‘ordering’ they take down any negative review of they will charge $500 to their credit card!!!!!

     
  30. Jiyan Wei

    Why would Kwikchex make a submission to the SEC over their concerns with TripAdvisor’s ability to authenticate reviews? Since when is it the SEC’s responsibility to ensure that review sites have fair and balanced approaches to review authentication?

     
  31. Ros Hart

    How can Booking.com get five stars when businesses which have been reviewed CANNOT respond. For the most part our reviews have been good but when a guest has mentioned a problem there is no way we can put our point of view across – we just have to swallow hard and move on!!! At least TA gives us the option …

     
    • Sarah

      I agree with you Ros but TA do not listen to the the business owner when the review is not true. It is the case that TA will post anything even if you can prove that you’ve been shut during the alleged stay of the reviewer. I think Booking.com should allow a management response but TA is unacceptable at every level.

       
  32. Darren Cronian

    I am pleased that an organisation has tackled reviews from companies like Trip Advisor and Google who have a huge monopoly in their markets, but, I can’t help think that this is all for publicity since most consumers I think nowadays take reviews with a pinch of salt.

     
    • Sarah

      Yes Darren consumers tell me that they take TA’s reviews with a pinch of salt, however, many people are using TAs list ie number 1 to 14 b&bs in the area, to start to make enquiries. I got knocked from position 5 to position 7 because of 1 untrue and negative review. This has mean that all the other businesses above me are getting phone calls before me and of course with fewer travellers this has an impact on businesses lower down the list.

       
  33. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    I think the idea of a star rating system for hotel review sites is pretty cool.

    I would much rather see an entity that has some semblance of neutrality do it because Kwikchex comes at the problem from a partisan perspective and has a ton of skin in the game.

     
  34. Dean Schmit

    Keep in mind that even on the “trusted” sites, the user error factor still plays a part.
    Example – what if they write an outstanding review but only give your hotel 1-star?
    What if they book a trip on Expedia including more than 1 hotel and end up putting the wrong review on the wrong hotel?

    No matter how many measures are put into place, there will always be a margin of error. It is up to the hotels to pay attention and monitor these.

    I do agree however that every/any site that is going to post user reviews should also be required to include options for management responses. TripAdvisor, Yelp, Travelocity, Expedia, Hotels.com, and Google Places all allow for this now – - time for everyone else to catch up!

     
    • Sarah

      Having a management response facility does not protect you from fraudulent and spiteful posts. I was told last year that because I did not respond to an email quickly enough the PROSPECTIVE guests was going to post a bad review on tripadvisor. The only way forward is to have a system where the reviewer has to prove that they have at least stayed in the property by using a booking ref number.

       
  35. vincent

    It’s all bull**** ! How can Kwikchex claim Booking.com deserves 5 stars? I just tried the site on a resort that I’m personally acquainted with and found the reviews (all 7 of them) to be lacking in one form or the other(not to mention they were un-translated). Not any better than the often unreliable TripAdvisor content. Dig deep amoungst your most trusted travel industry contacts for the real scoop on properties before recommending them to others. It works 90% of the time. Also, sources like the Weissman Reports where there is a paid subsription involved is a far better model to arriving at the unbiased truth.

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @vincent – we’ve asked Kwikchex to clarify the Booking.com issue you highlight here. Hopefully someone will post some guidance here shortly.

       
  36. Michael Cullen

    What about the question of editing/vetting the content of reviews before publishing them? If websites don’t do that, they may end up publishing rude or slanderous comments. If they do, they may start to change the content.

     
  37. Holly

    Is Kwikchex connected to Priceline.com in any way, shape or form?

     
  38. Fred Bean

    Kwikchex should be careful to have all of the features by which they rate sites. I like the idea of rating travel sites in general for the benefit of travel suppliers but the execution and feedback from the sites will be interesting to watch as/if this evolves.

     
  39. Gary Arndt

    But who will rate Kwikchex???

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @gary – indeed…

      The whole thing is arguably just becoming a circle of supposed authority.

       
 
 

Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel