Last night I spent some time (too much actually!) trying to find an apartment to stay in London. You'd think that in a digital world, with all the information at your figure, tips this would be a straightforward thing to do. Wrong! The ability to search by keyword on Google and use Google Search results or Google Local or Google AdWords to narrow the search down is a great thing. And companies like Hotels.co.uk. Expedia, Bookings.com and Lastminute.com certainly take the pain out of searching. However, the one thing that was designed to help us is the one thing that made this process take so long - reviews.
Let me give you an example. I was almost ready to book an apartment when I decided to check the reviews of the place on TripAdvisor. There were some good reviews:
But then I came across this one:
And this one:
And finally this one:
The apartments had looked nice on the website and indeed the reviews that I had seen on Bookings.com were favourable. It would seem that the main gripe people had was to do with the apartment block still being under construction and therefore noisy during the day. It also looked like some of the issues were teething problems which probably beset most hotels and apartments in their first few months of existence. Yet, the reviews on this site gave me cause for concern, which ultimately resulted in my going on to look at some other apartments - another another hour or two of fruitless searching.
I suppose that one of the problems of reviews, from your so-called peers, is that many of them are probably not your peers anyway. I have noticed that Americans are far more picky and demanding on these sites than the Brits, the Brits are more likely to pick up on rude staff, Spanish don't worry too much about rudeness but may focus on cleanliness. And so and so on.
There is one thing that this organisation could have done, though didn't, and that was to jump in on the conversation and start addressing people's issues. Websites like TripAdvisor allow management to post responses to bad customer feedback and therefore to try an put right that which they messed up on. By keeping quiet they will allow the value of the brand to be eroded. Here is an example of a manager who has listened and actually seems to do something.
And where did I finally book? Well, I went for one of the another apartment run by the same company that received a mixed bag of reviews.