The Problem With Crowdsourced Hotel Reviews

One thing we have learned over the years whether running the Mountain Valley Guest Inn or other hotels such as The Craighaar Hotel,   is that the start of the year isn’t a good time to be in the budget hotel business.

Why is that? Well, TripAdvisor, HotelsCheap, BudgetTravel and many more large portal sites  all put out their Top 10 best and worst lists around that time. And boy, do people have some mean hotel reviews to share about these cut-price affairs!

take this one, for example for the  premium VGP hotel in Chennai, India, “There were loud bangs outside the room. We later found out that the hotel staff were shooting stray dogs that had got in” or, what about this doozy for the Heritage Marina Hotel in San Francisco, one customer said, “It would be safer and cleaner to sleep on the streets”. It seems that nowhere is safe as a budget hotel  in Virginia found out, “There was dried blood and hair in the made bed like someone had slaughtered a small animal.” Worst of all, they reviewers back up their claims with detailed facts, names of the desk clerks on duty and everything.

Hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor are really getting hotel owners all worked up.

Half of them claim that the mean badmouthing is just a dirty business trick that competitors use to get a leg up in business. Many of them plan to sue – hardly surprising under the circumstances, after all, reviews like these can cost hotel owners their business.

If you want to pick up some interesting reading, you should probably head over to TripAdvisor.com for its 2018 Dirtiest Hotels list.

It looks like people wait all year to wallow in and enjoy the excellent insults on display. To make matters worse, the website has been advertising this list for years, and it always gets a huge reader response. Hotel owners who have been getting away with murder for decades, suddenly feel completely helpless in the face of the power of the Internet. They can protest that this is too much power taken out of the business owners hands but the fact remains that people can, and do, take delight in reading about this stuff. In fact, the hotel lobby in Europe is trying to get the government to regulate the review website industry, to make sure that what gets published, is real, and not evil-minded, under-the-belt sabotage.

But these websites are careful; they wouldn’t want to jeopardize the advertising relationships they have in place with the hotels that advertise on their website. Websites that publish hotel reviews have every incentive to go and say something nice about everyone. But to the casual reader, it does ring true that there should be some terrible hotels out there. Even traditional printed travel guides hate being shown up by these upstart websites. They have been joining in the protest parade against website reviews. Oyster.com, another famous hotel reviews site, is equally hated. Oyster likes to send its own journalists to check out the worst hotels, and come back with its own pictures to publish. What can people say to that?

We’ve all been to a couple of the bad ones, haven’t we? To me, the mean reviews seem to ring completely true. They have to be; hotels are notoriously difficult to maintain.

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