Recently I got to thinking about individual tastes and reactions to hotel stays. We've had a lively discussion here on Insiders about id'ing "do not stay" hotels. This begs the question of ratings, good or bad, of hotels by anyone out there.
What do you think of these ratings, especially on the Internet in places like Yelp and Trip Advisor?
How much stock do you place in reviews? Are reviews the major factor you use in making a decision on a hotel, and if so, do you see the one or more negative (perhaps the most negative of all) reviews as a stopper--meaning that it would prevent you for making a stay?
I tend to look at the context in which a review is written, and if that is echoed or contradicted by others. Maybe I am too much of an optimist but seems that there are bad stays, even bad hotels out there, which may or may not change.
How about everyone else?
I definitely consult Tripadvisor especially if there are no Marriotts or many in a place I'm planning to visit. If there are only a few comments I don't take it too seriously and I usually weed out either the over-the-top recommendations or those from obviously disgruntled people. But if lots of people say the same thing I'm inclined to pay attention. I did so before my trip to Avignon last September and was delighted with the hotel.
IMO, guest reviews (descriptive narrative) posted on the internet supercede any ratings (interpreted as numerical scores). For business lodging for example, TripAdvisor is less helpful than FlyerTalk. However, for leisure stays, TripAdvisor has more often than not been right on the money. As a multiple-week Marriott timeshare owner, reviews found at the Timeshare Users Group are extremely reliable. Depending upon the destination, reviews from many sources can be helpful in tipping a decision towards a particular hotel.
Overall, guest reviews are revealing about how expectations were met or exceeded. Some expect 'affordability', others 'comfort' and still others, 'luxury' is imperative. For my spouse and I, there's also the 'memorable' that needs to be fulfilled. Here's where snapshots contribute a great deal.
Would ratings and reviews be helpful at Marriott.com? Absolutely. Given the new layout of hotel pages at Marriott.com, the integration of hyperlinks to content specific to a hotel would make Marriott.com a one-stop reservation experience.
This is not to discount the relevance of news releases about a new hotel, slick magazine reviews or TV infomercials. All of these elements contribute towards shaping a decision and expectations.
Above: Bill Marriott at the announcement of the Autograph Collection's newest hotel in New York, The Algonquin.
As an organization, Marriott is guest-satisfaction driven. Logically, Marriott.com is destination-driven. Bridging these drivers at Marriott.com during the reservation experience could be transforming - especially with the Elite perspective added in too.
Should the relevance of ratings and reviews in the Insiders relaunch be discussed? Hopefully the consensus is, 'Yes'.
I feel strongly about personal reviews. while glossy pics are nice, who of us hasn't been taken aback by surroundings that didn't show up in promotional pics of a property. more often than not, a specific concern mentioned by a recent guest is likely a concern I would also have if exposed to it. I think we can all read past those reviews that seem to be off-the-wall. I find them invaluable as one more tool when I am deciding where to stay.
Actually, that's excellent feedback that merits inclusion in new manager training. With all kinds of devices designed to capture 'the moment', a guest can capture 'surroundings' for delivery on multiple channels. If you are a hotel manager, what would you not want seen on YouTube, TripAdvisor or the blog-du-jour? For the training exercise, what steps could be taken to heighten guest satisfaction and prevent unwanted exposure?
Shifting gears, cable's Lifetime recently premiered, The CraigsList Killer, about the Boston med student, Philip Markoff who murdered a New York woman, Julissa Brisman at the once highly rated, Marriott's Copley Place. Regrets to bring up something so grisly on Insiders, but it is germane to this topic.
Post 9-11, employee-key-activated elevators became the norm in many Midtown Manhattan office buildings to prevent security breaches. It is my understanding that this practice also became the norm in high-rise buildings in many cities. Are guest-key-activated elevators the norm at Marriott as they are for Concierge Level?
Besides affordability, comfort and luxury, how much does safety and security factor into a hotel's rating? Copley's closed circuit television footage of Markoff's comings and goings became key to the police investigation. But, coulda shoulda guest-key elevator access at Marriott's Copley Place prevented the crime and saved Ms. Brisman's life?