The investigation carried out by the Academic Director of the ITB Berlin Convention and professor at the Worms Technical College together with his students for ITB Berlin 2014 has revealed that travellers, platform operators and hoteliers have become much more professional in their dealings with online hotel evaluations.
Although almost half of all guests still believe that up to one third of all the evaluations provided have been manipulated (review portals consider the proportion to be only up to 5 per cent).
However, they have developed techniques enabling them to check the representative nature of the reviews themselves.
The most effective way of helping them to obtain a clearer picture is provided by comparable content in a number of different evaluations (30 read up to 10, a further 30 per cent as many as 20 evaluations for one hotel, in order to obtain a realistic impression), authentic formulations (instead of excessive enthusiasm and the language of catalogues), photos and videos, and the number of evaluations, which must also be up to date.
Most of the review sites have established quality assurance processes, automatically filter out suspect evaluations, subject them to thorough examination and make their decision about publication on this basis. The highest ratings for the comprehensiveness of the hotel information, detailed nature of the evaluation and protection against manipulation are obtained by Holidaycheck and Opodo, followed by Expedia, TripAdvisor and Ab-in-den-Urlaub.
And the best news is that hotels now take online evaluations very seriously, incorporate their observations in their working processes (allowing twice as much time for reading their own evaluations as they do for observing their competition) and respond actively to both positive and negative evaluations (thanking guests, reimbursing them or using the feedback to improve quality).
This is the right approach, because the vast majority of the more than 1,000 persons surveyed online make their hotel booking decisions on the basis of evaluations, while half of them take action when their suspicions are aroused: 35 per cent do not make a reservation if they suspect that reviews have been manipulated, 18 per cent tell their friends about it, 17 per cent report the entry, and 13% start avoiding the review page in question.