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Starwood has announced that they will provide a place for guests to review and rate their experience at one of their hotels. According to Starwood these reviews will be displayed directly on the page a prospective guest is viewing.

Starwood is also making sure all comments are from guests who actually stayed at the hotel. Reviews are verified by a hotel reservation confirmation.

What does this mean for hotel review sites?

This is the first salvo fired directly at the hotel review site community, (TripAdvisor), and you can be sure that brands like IHG and Marriott are stepping up the conversation with their social development partners and will jump on the bandwagon by no later than this time next.

So that means TripAdvisor has a few months to revisit their current processes and procedures and follow Starwood’s lead by making sure that all of the comments posted on their site are validated and genuine.

It also means that in the near future prospective guests will find enough review content that will allow them to make a credible decision about the subject property which should lead to more direct bookings.

Chris Holdern, Senior VP, Starwood Preferred Guest states “Our goal is to provide everything a guest needs to select and book their best hotel experience and there’s no better place to offer this information than on our own websites. Starwood’s new ratings and reviews platform provides a valuable new way for guests to learn from the experiences of fellow travelers.”

Starwood believes the key to building deeper relationships with its most loyal guests is through access to honest and transparent information. Guests can now post ratings and reviews based on a variety of criteria including: Overall Rating, Room Comfort, Staff Met My Needs, Room Cleanliness and SPG Recognition. Helping to create a more personalized experience, guests can also filter review content to see the information that is most relevant to them including: Star Rating, Purpose of Travel, Frequency of Travel, SPG Level, Above/Met Expectations and Below Expectations. Reviews can also be shared through social media channels, including both personal and property Facebook pages.

Do you feel that this is a long overdue decision by a major hotel brand and what are the implications for hotel review sites like TripAdvisor?

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on Twitter,LinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

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