A Blackpool hotel hit the headlines this week after charging £100 to a customer's credit card when they posted a bad review of their stay on Trip Advisor. The couple fell foul of small print in the hotel's booking document which stated "For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review."
Trading standards subsequently investigated the hotel's practice and the hotel have since said they will refund the couple.
BU's Professor Dimitrios Buhalis is an expert in e-Tourism and the use of technology in the tourism industry. He commented on the hotel's method of preventing bad reviews.
"This is interesting news and, although not justified, it demonstrates that hotels are gradually starting to their online reputation seriously. Tripadvisor is doing a good job of aggregating consumer opinion and showcasing both good and bad examples in hotels restaurants and tourism attractions."
"Although the system is fairly good there are often issues about review integrity and motives. Frequently negative reviews are contributed by competitors or increasingly by consumers who are blackmailing hotels for upgrades or extra services. Although charging customers for bad reviews is clearly unjustifiable, hotels need to incorporate Trip Advisor management into their core marketing and online reputation management."
"Research at the eTourismLab at Bournemouth University shows that hotels that follow closely their reviews, answer with honesty, and improve their service as a result of customer feedback improve their performance, online reputation and competitiveness. At the era of service cocreation, peer reviews are critical for enhancing customer experience."