Via Loyalty Traveler, Starwood has launched a pretty cutting-edge new feature yesterday — the ability to write hotel reviews directly on the hotel’s website. If you go to any hotel’s page on spg.com you’ll notice a link at the bottom left which reads “Write the first review.”
So what makes it different than Trip Advisor or the like? For one, they actually verify that you stayed at the hotel in the past 18 months. You have to log-in and provide your account information or confirmation number, so that they know you actually stayed at the hotel. Second, they only publish the reviews if there are at least five written. So even if you write a review now, it might be weeks (or months… or years…) before your review is published.
They claim they’ll publish all reviews that conform to their guidelines, and even give hotels a star rating based on guest reviews.
I don’t know how useful this is, but this is very, very bold on their part, in my opinion. While social media in general is “bold” (it can really hurt companies that don’t use it well, and help companies that do use it well), this is much more bold, given that these reviews make up a permanent part of peoples’ perception of the hotel. If I “tweet” negatively about a hotel others can see it, but it won’t be staring me in the face like a one star rating for the hotel directly on their own website.
While I doubt this will be all that useful in determining how good a hotel is, this might be a very powerful tool. People don’t tend to leave reviews for okay stays, but rather only for exception or awful stays. I suspect this has a lot of potential to create change at hotels that consistently don’t upgrade Platinum members outside of the terms and conditions of the SPG program, for example. If members consistently left reviews on the sites of stingy hotels, I’m pretty sure those hotels would want to eventually change their one or two star rating, because it could be costing them dearly.
Which makes me wonder if hotels can “opt out” of this at a certain point…
Anyway, more power in the hands of the consumer is always a good thing, so kudos to Starwood!