Hotels are becoming increasingly more image conscious, especially when it comes to guests who post their reviews online. Some hotels have started to use information locations, dates and usernames that appear online to discover the identity of a guest. Once the hotels discovers who the likely guest reviewer was they then add this information to their guest register alongside with other information such as guest preference record, newspaper choice and favourite room type.
Hotels are rewarding guests who post positive reviews with gifts such as, gift baskets and upgrades on their next stay. This is a good incentive for guests to provide positive reviews of their favourite hotels online. However, for those guests who provide negative reviews, they can expect a concerned email to reach them, asking them to reconsider their review. Some hotels are even offering a free night’s stay or subsequent gifts to apologise for the negative impression the hotel has left on the guest.
Despite the obvious positives behind this idea for the hotels involved, this idea may conversely affect travellers who obviously remain anonymous for a reason. Helen O’Boyle, a Seattle-based computing consultant highlights (in the Seattle Times), important issues that affect travellers. She says that once a guests has been identified, if the hotel are not pleased with the review they are marked as being a ‘problem guest’, not only in the specific hotel but also in the entire chain (if applicable).
O'Boyle cautions guests who wish to place a review, (and stay anonymous) to be careful not to reveal any information that might help a hotel identify them. It is also an idea to not mention specific dates of stay or anything in particular that may assist the hotel in identifying persons.
Hotels may have difficulty of uncertainty in finding the right guest, which poses a concern. Additionally, there are issues of privacy to guests (and their opinions) to consider. Online reviews are there to inform interested parties of honest opinions in relation to another persons stay at a hotel. By hotels attempting to break down the confidentiality process guest are less likely to be honest or even post reviews at all. Hotels need to decide whether they want an honest review of their property (and take the good with the bad), or not have reviews at all.
Unfortunately, with the social media trends, reviews and feedback are inevitable, so hotels are just going to have to get used to dealing with the ‘bad press’ or find better ways to impress guests other than trying to connect the dots and pin point anonymous reviewers.