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Statement from PAII on Online Reviews

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muirford

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I just got this email from PAII - I don't know if there has been some article accusing innkeepers of review fraud...
Jeanne

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jay Karen, President & CEO
Professional Association of Innkeepers International
jay@paii.org
856-310-1102 phone
856-310-1105 fax
www.paii.org

Innkeeping Association Urges Ethical, Fair Behavior for Online Review Systems

Haddon Heights, NJ, June 11, 2008 --- The largest international association of innkeepers is promoting standards to ensure fair and ethical use of online guest review systems -- one of the fastest growing segments of so-called "social media" on the Internet. The Board of Directors of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) is calling on its members to adhere to the highest ethical standards, for example to not offer incentives to guests for posting a review. Similarly, PAII is asking the companies that provide online review systems to respond fairly and in a timely manner when innkeepers complain to them about false or misleading reviews posted about their properties.

In just a few years, online review systems have dramatically changed the way millions of people plan their travels. The web-based technology used by TripAdvisor.com, BedandBreakfast.com, and other companies enables leisure and business travelers to read first-hand reviews by other travelers of their experiences at hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and restaurants.

"The widespread use of online guest reviews is a fairly recent phenomenon, and many innkeepers feel at the mercy of exceptional situations, rather than what systems seem to be designed for - honest feedback from guests. The systems most widely used by B&B guests try to prevent fraud and unethical behavior, but they are not fail-safe," said Jay Karen, PAII's President and Chief Executive Officer. Karen said most of the problems he hears about from innkeepers involve mean-spirited, false and misleading reviews posted by guests, and the occasional difficulties experienced by innkeepers when pursing an expedient method of addressing problems. In a few cases, innkeepers have discovered false reviews posted by their competitors. "There have been media reports and assumptions that owners and managers of smaller independent properties, like bed and breakfasts, are somehow more prone to circumventing the rules of these sites. While this is not true, we want to set the record straight regarding the ethical standards this industry supports, and this statement articulates our position."

PAII's position statement addresses the appropriate decorum which innkeepers should follow. In addition, the statement covers what the association's board feels is "fair play" for the sites that offer opportunities for guests to leave reviews. "False negative reviews on these sites can definitely color a potential guest's likelihood of making a reservation, and we want to encourage administrators of these sites to rapidly address grievances and reports of fraudulent activity," says Karen. "Lost business is a very serious matter, especially if you're an innkeeper with only 5 rooms in your inventory." Karen reports that the systems are generally working well for innkeepers, but that singular incidents of indiscretion seem to disproportionately impact innkeepers, who have reported grievances to the PAII office. "The leaders in the business of online reviews are TripAdvisor, which promotes its services to the general traveling public, and BedandBreakfast.com, which specializes in our industry. Innkeepers and guests should avail themselves to all reputable sources, but sites that demonstrate a deep understanding of the B&B marketplace are going to be most helpful when travelers are looking for the special experience offered by a stay at an inn or bed and breakfast."

"While there have definitely been transgressions in any industry that has online user reviews, we believe the rules established by these web sites are only one piece of the puzzle," says Debrah Mosimann, PAII's board chair and owner of Swiss Woods Inn in Lititz, Pennsylvania. "It's important for an industry's representative group to establish its own benchmark of appropriate conduct. In many ways, these web sites are doing a great service for our industry by bringing to light matters that innkeepers need to address at their own properties, and yet also giving exposure to hidden gems in our industry that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Some days it seems like the Wild West out there with user reviews, and we hope to provide a little bit of guidance to the stakeholders in our industry - the user review sites and the several thousand innkeepers who deliver the experiences being revealed for the public to see."

PAII's position statement, while not an official code of ethics, is intended to address a current matter of importance in the innkeeping industry.

Contact:

Jay Karen, President & CEO
Professional Association of Innkeepers International
jay@paii.org
856-310-1102 phone
856-310-1105 fax
www.paii.org

About PAII:
The Professional Association of Innkeepers International is the innkeeping industry's trade organization, representing owners of bed and breakfasts and country inns. PAII provides education, communications, public relations, networking, and research services to its membership and the greater industry. PAII hosts the world's largest annual gathering of innkeepers, the Innkeeping Conference & Trade Show, and publishes the industry's leading trade publication, Innkeeping Quarterly (IQ).
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Probably came up since so many directories are asking for guest reviews now!
My BandB.com reviews are one liners and they are really bugging me. I am not going to give out review cards again unless it is someone who will actually write a REVIEW.
 

Morticia

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Could also be because it appears that some are casting aspersions on the veracity and honor of innkeepers in general. That we are prone to 'padding' the results. Perhaps a canard thrown out by hotels who are not getting reviews when their local B&B's have hundreds?
Altho, I just got an email from the hotel I stayed at that wanted me to let them know how they had done. Not a request for a review but an internal audit.
 

Samster

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This is like anything else...a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. In this case, it's probably on both sides in point of fact. Unreasonable guests posting bad reviews and a few innkeeper competitors posting fake reviews, as well as owners posting their own reviews. We all just have to adhere to our own code of conduct :)
 

muirford

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Could also be because it appears that some are casting aspersions on the veracity and honor of innkeepers in general. That we are prone to 'padding' the results. Perhaps a canard thrown out by hotels who are not getting reviews when their local B&B's have hundreds?
Altho, I just got an email from the hotel I stayed at that wanted me to let them know how they had done. Not a request for a review but an internal audit..
I'm hoping it doesn't have anything to do with our rounds with the Fodorites a few days ago. I am a new member of PAII, so I don't know if they do these kinds of press releases often, but I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that it is in response to something specific. I have asked Jay so I will let you know if I hear anything.
Jeanne
 

Morticia

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Could also be because it appears that some are casting aspersions on the veracity and honor of innkeepers in general. That we are prone to 'padding' the results. Perhaps a canard thrown out by hotels who are not getting reviews when their local B&B's have hundreds?
Altho, I just got an email from the hotel I stayed at that wanted me to let them know how they had done. Not a request for a review but an internal audit..
I'm hoping it doesn't have anything to do with our rounds with the Fodorites a few days ago. I am a new member of PAII, so I don't know if they do these kinds of press releases often, but I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that it is in response to something specific. I have asked Jay so I will let you know if I hear anything.
Jeanne
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I would doubt it. I don't think any of us referred to reviews.
 

Morticia

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A response from Jay that this article was not the only impetus but was one of the dominoes...
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/BusinessTravel/story?id=4086830&page=1%3Cbr/%3E
Jeanne.
WO!
I confess I had an alter ego on that fodor's forum. MY PREROGATIVE TO DO SO however. I was not representing my inn at all.

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I guess I resent the implication that a B&B isn't worth the time and effort to investigate if they are lying about themselves in reviews or not. And also the implication that some would think that was good a marketing plan on my part.
Heck, I guess I should just go post all those reviews the guests have sent me in the past 3 weeks (instead of sending them to TA).
 

EmptyNest

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This was all started by BBAV!!! So VA has been working with PAII because we thought they would have more clout and VA Board was getting no where with Trip Advisor folks.
We had an innkeeper offering $25 discounts for future stays for any guest who posted a review on Trip Advisor. This sent our board into a frenzy. Yes I agree that it was a bad move and that TA does not condone payment for reviews, but I thought our board got really carried away on this. But in the end, it has issued a similar statement to the membership. They now LOVE JAY at PAII:)
 

Samster

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A response from Jay that this article was not the only impetus but was one of the dominoes...
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/BusinessTravel/story?id=4086830&page=1%3Cbr/%3E
Jeanne.
I do think that there are places that must do something to encourage a lot of positive reviews from their guests (or friends) especially after a less than stellar review. A place where I stayed almost 2 years ago now seems to do this. I actually had another TA member email me thru TA about my review because she was aghast at the fabulous reviews that appeared after her review and pointed me to the same thing happening after mine. (This was the place with cobwebs, dirty coffeemaker, and braless shoeless innkeeper at check-in time.) This place also has easily 3 times the reviews of other places in that city. So, that is something to keep an eye on when you're looking at online reviews too.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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This place also has easily 3 times the reviews of other places in that city. So, that is something to keep an eye on when you're looking at online reviews too.
See that makes me nervous as we handed out all these review cards and they all show up about the same time slot. When Bandb.com adds them to our listing. I was thinking about that, all of a sudden 15 reviews from one month, when there was one for the past 6 mo's.
 

Samster

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This place also has easily 3 times the reviews of other places in that city. So, that is something to keep an eye on when you're looking at online reviews too.
See that makes me nervous as we handed out all these review cards and they all show up about the same time slot. When Bandb.com adds them to our listing. I was thinking about that, all of a sudden 15 reviews from one month, when there was one for the past 6 mo's..
I think that the bedandbreakfast.com reviews would not be that big a deal as people know there is a promotion. This is TA where all of a sudden there will be 5 or 6 new really glowing reviews after a so-so review. Hmmm....
 

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