How do you manage people coming for website and print reviews?

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Hey,

I wanted to know what you do if someone is looking to do a review, coming from an online site or print.

Do you offer the room free, do you want to know when they are coming or do you just treat them like anyone else and they pay and receive a room like normal.

What if they are asking for a room for free just for the review, maybe a day or two.

Would like to know how other people deal with this Smiling

seashanty's picture
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I would like to know why John D never answered my question .... does he have a bed and breakfast? 

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joined and never came back ???? Maybe he didn't like our answersdevil

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John D wrote:

...Do you offer the room free, do you want to know when they are coming or do you just treat them like anyone else and they pay and receive a room like normal.

What if they are asking for a room for free just for the review, maybe a day or two.

Would like to know how other people deal with this Smiling

Personally.. no free rooms, no discounts, no comps.

Legally... anyone doing a review in the US is required by law to disclose if they were compensated in any way for their review. In other words, asking for a free room means that the review is tainted. Regulations require even bloggers to disclose if they are compensated in any way, shape or form. See http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm

So, if someone asks you for a free room, ask them if they will comply with the FTC regulations in regards to endorsements and testimonials. If they won't, then their review isn't worth the paper it is printed on, since they are immoral. If they do, then the review isn't worth the paper it is printed on, since they will have to disclose that you gave them the room to get them to give you a good review. In other words, asking you for a free room means that the review is tainted.

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My two cents worth.  I had a controlling ownership in, and personally managed, a 135 room full service, AAA 3 diamond hotel in Seattle from 1986 to 2004.   AAA inspectors/reviewers periodically stayed in the hotel, ate in the restaurant, etc. and, as I recall, never announced their presence, let alone asked for a comp.  I only found out the day they were leaving when they identified themselves and told me and my staff what they'd found.  One dinged us because he wasn't asked (by his lunch waiter) if he'd like dessert.  They always paid for their room and meals.  I'm almost certain that was AAA policy and, as others have noted, what "legit" travel folks do.  Travel agents, on the other hand, customarily got a 50% discount.  Fellow hotel managers and owners often better yet, on a space available basis.  That's my 2 cents worth.  Perhaps things have changed since 2004 but it doesn't sound like it.

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Madeleine's picture
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ArmenYousoufian wrote:

 Travel agents, on the other hand, customarily got a 50% discount.  Fellow hotel managers and owners often better yet, on a space available basis.  That's my 2 cents worth.  Perhaps things have changed since 2004 but it doesn't sound like it.

50%?! OTOH, you had a LARGE (comparatively speaking) property compared with anyone here. Giving a 50% discount to people on vacation just because of their job is a bit much. I had a guy last year who wanted me to underwrite his family vacation in peak season. He just didn't get why it wasn't possible for me to do that. (His business focus was bus tours. Not going to help me in the long run at all!)

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Madeleine,

Thx for your good comments about my comment.  

I also own a 4 room country inn so I am aware of both ends of the lodging spectrum.

I forgot my usual disclaimer that what I said was in the FWIW category.  And also forgot to say the Travel Agent discount was on a space available basis and likely would not be given in peak season.  This was typical in the industry and I thought it might be helpful for folks to know that, if they didn't already.  From what other B&B innkeepers have told me, they'd sell an otherwise empty room at 50% of peak rates, if there was a way to not have that "cannibalize" other sales. Limiting a discount to a licensed agent works for some, just like sales in the off season.  

As for the person you mentioned, he may have just been trolling for anyone who would comp him.  Sounds like you did the right thing to not take the bait.

That said, I thought it might help folks to know that if someone is legitimately looking to do a review of an accommodation or an area, whether it's a bigger or smaller property, they likely won't be asking for a comp.  And if they are illegitimate, that the bigger properties aren't likely to give them a comp, and they may pick on a smaller operation, thinking their story might get them a free room.

Thx for allowing me to expand on my earlier comment.

Cheers,

Armen Yousoufian

gillumhouse's picture
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Travel agents and airline employees got the 50% from the hotel I worked at many years ago. It was expected - basically an SOP in hotels.

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REAL Legit travel writers do NOT ask or accept free or discounted stays, period.  The person may have a resume, may have published articles but that in itself does not make them legit. 

Don't fall for it!  Take it from someone that has done socrying and learned a valuable lesson. 

seashanty's picture
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Do you have a bed and breakfast?

 

gillumhouse's picture
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I only give freebies if asked by our State Tourism Division - they vet them and they know they can ask me and get it. A newspaper travel writer told me they are not allowed to accept freebies (and her one article more than doubled the revenues of two B & Bs the year it first appeared and brought revenue for several years after).

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You should not do anything and don't give them a free room either. Just treat them as a normal guest. If they are legit, they should not want to be paid. 

Highlands John's picture
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As far as treating them, I would treat them the same as everyone else. I think our product is good enough that we don't have to dress it up.

Charge them or free? That would be a judgement call on how much impact the resulting review is likely to have, but I think I'd draw the line at 1 night. Half a page in a national newspaper, yes. I small piece in Pig farmers Monthly, noooo!!!

We've had two national magazines, one of which was Ho me an dgard en with a large circulation, write articles about us and neither even bothered to visit, never mind stay. They interviewed us over the phone and got us to email photos.

They may be legitimate, but is the stay really necessary?

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Highlands John wrote:

...small piece in Pig farmers Monthly, noooo!!!

Hey! Here in Arkansas pigs are people too! Pig Farmers Monthly is where we get all our news!

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Madeleine's picture
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Are you asking how to handle a legitimate travel writer or someone who is just trying to scam a free vacation?

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They are legitimate and I have verified it Smiling

Madeleine's picture
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If it is a legitimate travel writer then you treat them like everyone else. They pay for their stay. Offering them a free room is bribery. And they would have to disclose in their story that they didn't pay to stay. And there goes any semblance of a 'valid' review.

If they are legit they won't ask you for anything. They will stay and write what they see and experience. Usually, a 'real' travel writer won't even contact you, they'll just come and see what the deal is. Alerting you that they are coming defeats the purpose of an honest review.

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Thanks Madeleine,

 

That is exactly what I thought, but lets just say (For example) that they come, do a review and have a coupon when checking out so their stay is free, what do you think of that?

In other words, we have knowledge that someone will come at any stage, days, weeks, even months, and they stay as a normal customer then when leaving, they have a coupon or simply let the owner know they were doing the review.

I wouldn't mind giving a free room in return for a review, good or bad, as long as it is legit and their true opinion.

 

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05/22/2008

Sorry but it just doesn't work that way. The "real" important reviewers...who ever they are...we wonder these days...do not take compensation. If they don't breach the subject of compensation, you should not either. Just let it go and things progress their natural way. Now if in the future, you work closely with your state tourism...such as Kathleen does, then maybe you can "comp" a room for a staffer or a give away for them etc. But I think you are making way too much out of a reviewer coming to your place..reallysmiley

Joey Camb's picture
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The problem is if they are legitimate - they HAVE to pay for it to show they are impartial - feel free to say if you are in the area give me a call for a discount or whatever but only the freeloaders and there are ruddy millions of them will ask for a free stay in return for a review,

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Madeleine's picture
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John D wrote:

Thanks Madeleine,

 

That is exactly what I thought, but lets just say (For example) that they come, do a review and have a coupon when checking out so their stay is free, what do you think of that?

In other words, we have knowledge that someone will come at any stage, days, weeks, even months, and they stay as a normal customer then when leaving, they have a coupon or simply let the owner know they were doing the review.

I wouldn't mind giving a free room in return for a review, good or bad, as long as it is legit and their true opinion.

 

Like I said, if they are a legitimate travel writer they have to disclose their stay was free or that they were offered a perk for writing the article. Once that is said who is going to believe a good article?

Obviously, it's your business and you run it how you want. If you want to pay for reviews that's your prerogative.

But, why stop there? Why not give an incentive to everyone who offers to write a blog or an article or whatever? Heaven knows I've gotten enough emails telling me they will be happy to write a post on their much-viewed blog if I it would be convenient to  arrange a free weekend for them and their family on July 4. You do not want to get on that mailing list!

Also consider they may deem it as a bribe and get all in your face about it. Could backfire on you. And why do you want to give them a free stay anyway when they have already contacted you with no strings attached?

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