Searching for reviews

I am currently traveling with my family from Northern California to Oregon. We needed to book a hotel near the San Francsico airport the other night. My wife ended up booking us into the Best Western Grosvenor in South San Francisco.

As we checked in, there was an obviously placed notice that that if we reviewed the hotel on TripAdvisor.com we would be entered in a drawing to receive a full credit towards our room expense.

We went to the room, set up our laptop and proceeded to struggle with a very flaky wifi connection, calling the front desk who alerted maintenance. We finally logged on through the connection for the Holiday Inn across the street.

The next morning I got serious about attempting to win my free stay and proceeded to create an account with TripAdvisor.com and to locate their record to provide a review. About 15 minutes into the sign up/review process, the WiFi connection started slowing down and finally went bad before ever being able to actually write the review. After another 10 minutes of struggling with the flakey connection I finally gave up.

I was an extremely motivated user and between the time it took to get into Tripadvisor and navigate a buggy wifi connection, I could not make it to the end line. While checking out, we were forced to fill in the hand feedback form to enter the electronic review drawing.

The impact of the hotels efforts are interesting. The Top 10 Hotels in Google all have more than 45 reviews to their credit on the search: Hotels South San Francisco. Our hotel showed up on page 3 of Google Maps with no reviews. Its Google Maps record is unclaimed and has its name mispelled.

At Tripadvsior.com the hotel has received 126 reviews and is accumulating reviews at a run rate of about 1 per week.

It is fascinating to me that reviews have become an integral part of some hotel’s customer relations management. It is also fascinating that it could be so poorly executed as to cause my rating to go down. The lengthy process to get signed up with TripAdvisor speaks to the need for a product like LeaveFeedback.org. The poorly managed WiFi setup speaks to the importance of good execution across all of an establishment’s offered services.

It is also of note that the review process focused so heavily on TripAdvisor while ignoring their Google Maps record reinforcing the poorly thought out nature of the exercise.

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12 thoughts on “Searching for reviews”

  1. Hope you have a great trip. Keep your hands on the wheel while you are cruising up rte 1.

    As to the hotel. So close and yet so far. They are part ways to the right solution. I guess that is progress. :D

  2. We spent some time on 1 then moved over to 101…beautiful drive…and I have so far resisted the temptation to read mail while driving.

    Although I have found that Google SMS has been a huge help…what is the street address of a business we are looking for , is there a Japanese restaurant nearby, what time do the movies start….kinds of questions…a poor man’s iPhone. :)

    Of the 4 hotel stays it was the only one working on reviews.

    Mike

  3. My mistake. 101. Beautiful drive. Stay off the cell phone while negotiating the twists and turns. :D

    As to volume of hotels working on reviews……it takes time for marketing information to disseminate.

    Enjoy the trip.

  4. Hi Mike,
    I hope you and your family are having a good vacation.

    Your article made us laugh. Of all the people to give bad WiFi to….

    I have a question. I was confused by what you said about your hotel having 126 Trip Advisor reviews. Why is Google not picking these up in Maps? Did I misunderstand what you wrote?

    Did you restrain yourself from cornering the concierge and demanding he claim their listing?

    I’ve been happily reviewing local businesses from our last trip, but no one has offered me a free stay for it. Hmm….perhaps I should start bartering with hotel managers.

    Fun article.
    Miriam

  5. Hi Miriam

    I think the reason that they are not picking them up is that the unclaimed record in Google Maps has a misspelled business name for the hotel. Demonstrates why they need to take a holistic approach to local and reviews.

    I didn’t have time to talk to the management other than a brief inquiry at the front desk as to why they were so focused on just insiderpages.

    I am going to go back and check tripadvisor and see if other reviews are posted and call the hotel to see if I won. :)

    Mike

  6. That hotel wouldn’t happen to be the old Clarion would it? Next to the Westin at SFO…..

    I had a real headache getting a connection there and feel they are shooting themselves in the foot asking for reviews this way….

    David

  7. Hi Mike,
    I work for an outfit that specializes in promoting travel and hospitality websites and I know that everyone in the hotel biz thinks Trip Advisor is the be-all and end-all for hotel reviews. Most of them have no clue that reviews have any influence elsewhere on the internet.

    Unfortunately, TA’s review process is cumbersome and unless you are a regular user who has an account set up and can actually remember your logins from review to review, you are likely to become frustrated trying to share your experiences.

    I recently gave them my opinion of a hotel in Manhattan and my review was rejected because I did not give Trip Advisor its exact street address. Instead of asking me to go back and add it, I was instructed to begin the process all over again. I didn’t and I won’t. But I did leave one at Google Maps. LOL

  8. Hi Mary

    Certainly it would make sense to take a more “holistic” approach to reviews and marketing. It would seem that a focus on TripAdvisor for the business travelers and CitySearch/Yahoo for reviews for tourist types that would combine to influence their Google LBC record would make sense. This would broaden their reach significantly with little extra work.

    Then they would be covering all of their major demographic bases instead of just one. Also putting all of their review eggs in one basket seems a risky strategy on its face.

    Mike

  9. In the case of hotels and wireless wi fi in hotels you have discovered what i have on my travels in many hotels
    Wi fi internet varies tremendously in quality
    Even if the hotel advertises , lists and informs you of wi-fi wireless internet or even “free wi fi”
    The quality and setups vary tremendously. In only a few cases do they work flawlessly. In some cases they are flaky. In other cases the wi fi internet reception is only in the lobby area not in your hotel room.
    Several points – one it pays to ask specific questions , you may have to move your laptop to another locations , and ask if there is a hard wired “regular ” computer for access in the lobby

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