Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

The site you love to hate…or hate to love?

Without a doubt, one of today's biggest lightening rod topics for innkeepers is Trip Advisor and the broader topic of social media.  "I don't like this new way of reviews!  How can this be good for me?  People are 'gaming' the system. I can't control what goes on! Who cares what other people say?"  Sound Familiar?

These comments are usually made by the innkeepers that initially resisted the internet…then resisted online availability…then resisted online bookings.  But times change and so does the technology that we all must embrace to be competitive and visible to today's Contemporary Traveler, the i.guest. 

The information about today's traveler, as generated by various research organizations as well as anecdotally by The B&B Team, shows without a doubt, that our guests today are technologically demanding high quality websites, great photography, and the option to book their lodging stays online!

We can't forget that we are still in the hospitality and people business, but to be successful, we all need to embrace the tools that technology offers our guests…and us too.

It's interesting that within the last 48 hours, two articles about Trip Advisor and social media have surfaced from two very different points of view and sources.  What is even more interesting is that they both clearly recognize the importance of this new transparency in online information.

Our own innkeeping organization, PAII, released a Position Statement, "The largest international association of innkeepers is promoting standards to ensure fair and ethical use of online guest review systems — one of the fastest growing segments of so-called "social media" on the Internet."

Almost simultaneous to this release was an online article from BudgetTravel on about the Top 10 Travel Innovations from the past 10 years…and Trip Advisor was rated as the 3rd most important innovation!  Why, because, it "takes the guesswork out of deciding where to stay" and "empowers travelers to make smart choices".

What's it all mean to us?  Technology continues to advance and we all need to embrace it, but in so doing , do it with a sense of fair play.  In the end, we all benefit!  Your thoughts?


2 Responses to “The site you love to hate…or hate to love?”

  1. I love Tripadvisor (both personally and professionally). I don’t “game the system” but try to ensure the experience they have while staying provides them with positive comments that they would be willing to share.
    If a less than positive comment crops up, we take it as a chance to improve the experience for the next guest of the Albert Shafsky House!

  2. George Yankowski says:

    As someone very familiar with the various travel review sites, I feel compelled to respond to your article, Rick.
    No doubt that legitimate and honest reviews of any product or service is invaluable to the consumer.
    While it is difficult to summarize my objections to Trip Advisor and other similar travel review sites, my issues begin with the anonymity the web offers and the ease by which people can “game” the system.
    Whether it’s innkeepers posting bogus favorable reviews of their own properties or, posting bogus poor reviews of other properties, I’m sure those practicing such tactics believe they are marketing their inns and embracing the technology.
    While the idea of posting a review of their own inn sounds much less sinister than making the effort to post nasty remarks about another property, be assured both are equally fraudulent.
    Now, courtesy of the latest commercials, the traveling public have been educated on the benefits of intimidating innkeepers into doing things that were never previously part of their offerings. As the commercials indicate, the threat of a poor review can be very effective.
    So, as a consumer, beware of travel reviews that are enhanced with keywords (a neat trick for the more sophisticated “gamer.” Or, better yet, the innkeeper that accidently posts the bogus review using their real name (no kidding, it happened).
    Hearing that PAII is promoting ethical standards sounds great but, just like Budget Travel’s favorable comments, both give the traveling consumer the impression that these travel review sites are to be believed.
    I don’t agree.