In the Middle East, hotel star ratings differ from other regions in the world. Now, Abu Dhabi is the first to announce the inclusion of online reviews as an additional parameter to classify hotels by star ratings. Before, consumers might have struggled when booking hotels to see the difference from one star rating to the next lower star rating. The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority has now been offered a new technology by Olery, which is a guest experience management provider. This technology will then be part of the hotel classification programme (Tnooz 2013).
ONLINE REVIEWS AND HOTEL RATINGS
Online reviews are very important in this digital era, as consumers do read reviews when researching hotels and tourism businesses. Before booking not only prices are being checked and compared online but also the star ratings are being looked at closely, comparing those with actual consumer reviews that are shared online. Therefore, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority now decided to implement a monitoring tool, that checks a hotel’s star rating against actual guest reviews. This is seen as a good way for the tourism authority to monitor hotels performances and also to ensure that standards are kept with regards to the minimum set for certain star ratings. In case that standards have dropped, the tourism authority will then investigate this further and will be able to take actions against the hotel.
For the purpose of monitoring hotels performance, Olery is implementing monthly reports that check hotels performance on a regular basis. A dashboard will also be provided to the tourism authority that enable real-time performance monitoring of individual hotels. Olery is using ratings from social review sites such as TripAdvisor, booking.com, Expedia and hotels.com that do represent guest satisfaction in Abu Dhabi hotels. Therefore, the outdated traditional star ratings can be compared with social online reviews to check and assure guest satisfaction and high quality star ratings that lead to unique hotel experiences.
For outside of the Middle East, nothing similar is planned but when Abu Dhabi tourism authority is starting this process in early 2014, other hotel sectors worldwide might follow and revisit their traditional way of classifying hotels and rating them. The future is certainly interesting with regards to online reviews and hotel star ratings. Time will tell, whether this new way of approaching hotel classification will be most helpful for consumers worldwide.
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