Saturday, January 28, 2017

Are hotel reviews more relevant in the buying process than the categorization by hotel stars?

Think of it as the difference between the Emmys and the People's Choice Awards.

The 'stars' are ratings based upon the hotel's service and amenity level - you have to have a free continental breakfast to get this many stars, you have to have a restaurant and lounge to get that many stars, you have to have room service to get one more. Michelin, AAA, and anyone else who awards 'stars' each has their own criteria re how many 'stars' to award for which set of amenities: they're their stars to give, and they make the rules and give them out as they please (Hotel rating ). If I want to develop a new 'four-star hotel', I'm going to make sure I plan ahead for my new hotel to have everything on those lists of requirements for a four-star rating.

The reviews by guests on TripAdvisor are submitted by guests (hopefully real guests, not sales staff - Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What's the best site for getting hotel reviews? ), and based on their experience staying at the hotel.

Image result for red roof inn

One surprising example of divergence that we noted in developing our new economy brand (Calico Inns - Beechmont Hotels Corporation ): Red Roof Inn is an existing 'economy' brand. The last one at which I stayed, in Bethlehem, Pa., was a 'two-star' hotel - but it had a TripAdvisor bubble score of 4.0 out of 5.0. (Okay, I helped - Every town needs a 'good, $65.00 motel' . . . - but it still had four bubbles before I posted my own review. If anything, I penalized them: I gave them fives in every relevant category, but took one away on the final score for going "100% non-smoking" and not having a smoking room for me on my last trip.) 

And that's pretty typical of a Red Roof Inn anywhere you go: low 'stars', but what they do, they do well and keep the guests happy. They get guests who know in advance to not ask too much for what they're paying ($69.99 -- after all, it's only two stars), but are happy with what they get in return and give 'the Roof' good reviews and a high score. You might once in awhile see a Red Roof Inn with a so-so TripAdvisor bubble score or a run of bad reviews, but in most places Red Roof hits four bubbles pretty consistently. I have my differences with the way they do some things, but for now, they do have the most successful economy hotel brand in the country.

So, if you're going to develop economy hotels of your own, if you don't buy a Red Roof Inn franchise (and I've quit believing in hotel franchising some time ago), at least consider Red Roof as one of your models to go by, someone who has a pretty good idea how to do it right.

On the other hand, you can make a hotel pretty plush and offer quite a bit by way of ambience and service, but if you promise more than you deliver and the guest goes away unhappy, your TripAdvisor reviews are going to suffer.

Originally appeared on Quora

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