Whose opinion can you trust? Last week Which? (the Consumers Association) announced that after 30 years it would no longer produce its hotel guide. Added to the fact that there is no cohesive European hotel rating system and some websites allow anyone to post a review, it is not surprising that 81% of customers found Active Hotels’ online hotel reviews “invaluable” when making their accommodation choice.
According to internal research, new customers greatly value a previous guest’s unbiased opinion, particularly concerning smaller properties where standard industry ratings do not always provide a clear insight of what to expect.
Foreign visitors in particular, can be overwhelmed by an array of different industry rating systems that can cause confusion. To add to the uncertainty, a number of independent travel/hotel guides include ‘paid for’ placements by hotels and although the majority contain useful information, written guides that are published annually can soon become out of date.
Marielle Duigou (a customer from France) stated: “Guest reviews are particularly helpful when booking on a budget. You are not likely to be disappointed with a five star hotel but at the lower end of the scale the quality can be very different and that’s where the guest reviews really help me to make my choice.”
Active Hotels’ website displays hotel reviews and ratings given by previous customers who have booked a hotel stay on www.activehotels.com. ÊThe reviews are published as submitted (unless removed for reasons such as offensive language), and represent genuine unbiased opinions of previous guests. In addition, the customer profile is displayed so that users can relate to the review in a relevant context (e.g. whether a young couple, solo business traveller, family with young children, etc.). Therefore if you are an amorous couple looking for a quiet romantic break, you will not want to be surrounded by noisy children!
Unlike some services, Active Hotels’ reviews are only made by guests that have booked and stayed at a hotel. The reviews are usually posted within a week of a guest’s departure, therefore a continuous stream of fresh opinions are on display. Furthermore, the reviews are Euro-friendly, so comments can be found in 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian and German), depending on the language in which they have been submitted.
Dorett Sutherland, E-commerce Manager, for Hazlitt’s Hotels in London said: “I personally believe that Active have got the hotel review system right. All reviews have a customer booking reference number, so we know we have received honest opinions from genuine guests that have stayed in one of our hotels. We regularly examine our feedback and react accordingly, as customer satisfaction is a top priority for Hazlitt’s.”
In addition, Active Hotels recently carried out usability testing at its headquarters in Cambridge, to gain a better understanding of browsing behaviour and the user-friendliness of the site. ÊMonitored by analysts, these studies confirmed that reviews were highly influential when it came to the user selecting a property.
Luke Errington, Active Hotels Consumer Team Manager stated: “With approximately 10,000 hotels across Europe, our hotel reviews are invaluable in helping our customers to find the right hotel. Alongside great rates and special offers, we now display over 5,000 new reviews every week, meaning that consumers can make well informed choices based on current information about which hotels are good for them. ÊThese are critical to ensuring Active Hotels maintains its position as one of Europe’s leading providers of online hotel reservations.”