Recently, the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) published a report on the quite complex topic “Online Guest Reviews and Hotel Classification Systems – An Integrated Approach”. They picked up an interesting question how to merge the two most relevant quality indicators for accommodations, traditional hotel classification and online guest reviews.
The report, jointly prepared by UNWTO and Norwegian Accreditation, opens by raising the claim to further reduce the gap between guests’ expectations and experiences. To achieve this sophisticated goal, a modification to existing hotel classification systems is proposed including guest review data.
The report bears in mind that user-generated content exploded during the past years at the same time greatly influencing consumers purchase behaviour. In this regard, data provides that before meeting a final booking decision, consumers visit on average 14 different travel-related websites and carry out nine travel-related searches on search engines. However, traditional hotel classifications are still very important as they are used in order to help filtering hotels. Guest reviews, on the other side, assist in selecting the final hotel from a smaller range of acceptable options. As a result, both approaches to consumer guidance are valid and used – yet in different ways.
So this is exactly what UNTWO seeks to change. According to the report, the classification process has to enter the digital and social sphere taking online guests reviews into consideration. By doing so, positive outcomes regarding financial aspects as well as consumer satisfaction are expected.
By offering an integrated approach, the report closes with the assumption that guests reviews would add a concerted subjective dimension to the objective hotel classification process. The new system proposed could use review data from existing guest review websites in order to update hotel classification, which could effectively help to further reduce the gap between guests’ expectations and experiences.
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