Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


North American Hotels See Guest Satisfaction Drop

1 year ago

Travelers are only modestly more dissatisfied with hotel stays on average worldwide than before the pandemic, according to a review of 6 million user-generated reviews and 20 million online comments. But North America stood out as a region where many guests felt hotels were underperforming compared to 2019.

Shiji ReviewPro compiled its 200-page hotel guest sentiment report for 2022 based on hotel guest satisfaction reviews and scores for the full year, including year-over-year comparisons back to 2019 and 2021 and taking into account reviews from 7,500 hotels worldwide.

The new study will highlight issues of concern to hotel owners and operators, who are debating whether they need to add back full staffing and service or whether guests will generally accept a leaner post-pandemic level of service.

In 2022, the global review index — a measure of guest satisfaction — was 84.3 percent, 1.7 points lower than in 2019, according to Shiji ReviewPro. Decreases were most pronounced among 3-star hotels, which lost 2.0 points from 2019 to 2022.

Labor challenges appeared to be a key issue.

To make the sample statistically relevant, the report looked at comparable numbers of hotels in five regions that are representative of each region’s makeup by category type.

North America saw the biggest decline in guest satisfaction of the five regions. In 2022, the Global Review Index for hotels in the Shiji ReviewPro data set was 83.3 percent, a drop of 3.5 points from 2019. Three-star hotels showed the steepest decline, losing four points. The results dovetailed with research last year from J.D. Power. accounted for an incredible 41.8 percent of global review volume in 2022, an increase of 12.9 points over 2019. Concerning the 66 review sites and online travel agencies in 45 languages included in the study, there has been no exclusion or bias: all reviews, regardless of platform, are included for each of the hotels the company analyzed, Shiji ReviewPro said.

Shiji ReviewPro is one of the three largest vendors helping hotels and the industry manage and understand user-generated reviews, customer feedback, and guest sentiment. Competitors include Revinate and TrustYou.

Click here for the Shiji ReviewPro Global Review Benchmark 2022

Online Travel

Google Flights and Hotels Make Europe-Mandated Transparency Changes … in Europe

1 year ago

Google made changes to Google Flights and Hotels related to transparency in hotel reviews and pricing under pressure from the European Commission — but stopped short of making those modifications elsewhere in the world.

“Reviews aren’t verified,” Google states in the European Union. Source: Google

At the behest of the European Commission, Google added text in hotel reviews in European Union countries, noting “Reviews aren’t verified.”

Unlike online travel agencies, Google doesn’t take bookings so it would be hard-pressed to verify user reviews. Tripadvisor, likewise, doesn’t verify hotel reviews for the same reason.

Clicking further into Google’s explanatory language about user reviews in Europe, Google states that it accepts reviews from signed-in users — there’s no requirement that they ever stayed at that particular hotel — and licenses reviews from third-parties. “Google doesn’t do any additional filtering for spam or inappropriate language beyond that done by the provider, nor do we verify these reviews,” Google states.

The European Commission stated that Google accepted this disclosure about hotel reviews and additional transparency commitments that other hotel-booking platforms such as Expedia Group and agreed to on pricing and availability.

“The commitments made by Google are a step forward in this direction. We call on Google to comply fully with  the Geo-blocking Regulation, ensuring that consumers can enjoy the same rights and access the same content, wherever they are in the EU,” European Commission Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in the announcement statement.

Google agreed to these changes about user reviews, consented to disclose that Google Flights and Google Hotels is merely a middleman, and agreed to provide greater clarity when presenting discounted pricing, explaining that such deals are merely a reference point. But Google decided to make these changes in Europe only — and not in other geographies around the world where regulators were not providing heat.

“As part of our ongoing dialogue with the European Commission and the EU’s Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, we have made changes to our products that provide a clear benefit and protect consumers,” a Google spokesperson stated. “We appreciate the partnership on this topic and are open to constructive dialogue with all consumer associations and regulators.”

Google’s hotel reviews in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have no added language explaining the reviews are not verified. So travelers might erroneously believe that everyone writing reviews about these hotels actually stayed a night or two there.

A Google hotel review module in the U.S. has no language to let travelers know that the reviews are not verified reviews. Source: Google

Google frequently talks about helping travelers and other consumers to discover information as being one of its top priorities. However, the search engine giant, perhaps in the interests of providing a cleaner user interface that wouldn’t get in the way of users clicking on hotel ads, sacrificed transparency for expediency in the rest of the world.

Google is not alone in doing what regulators demand in one geography, but not expanding it to other regions for the good of consumers. For example, for several years Airbnb has shown the total price of stays, including taxes, up-front in the European Union at the urging of the European Commission. However, it was only this year that Airbnb became displaying the total rate, albeit without taxes included, instead of just the nightly rate without fees at first glance, in other geographies.


Hotel Robots Trigger Mixed Feelings of Joy and Fear — New Study

2 years ago

Joy, fear and sadness: these are just some of the emotions hotel guests feel when they encounter a customer services robot during their hotel stay.

That’s according to researchers who extracted a sample of 9,707 customer reviews from Ctrip and TripAdvisor. They found the majority of customers have a positive experience with robots.

The feeling of “joy” was felt by more than 60 percent of customers when dealing with robots in a customer service role, based on a new study from the Durham University Business School. “Fear” was the second most felt emotion by customers, making up 28 percent of the reviews.

Other feelings of anger (5 percent), neutral (4 percent) and sadness (1 percent) also featured in the reviews, which spanned 412 hotels in eight countries.

The researchers, who used a machine learning model to identify the hotels which had been reviewed on their own robot-powered customer service, found that interacting with robots also triggered emotions of love, surprise, interest and excitement, while discontent was mainly expressed when the robot malfunctioned.

The results of the study also showed many customers chose these specific hotels due to the fact they operated with customer service robots, revealing that hotels can use them as a selling point to customers, as well as convenience.

But hotels were also warned not to promote themselves as a “robot hotel” as it could create high expectations and potentially disappoint customers.

“Service robots have been increasingly adopted in hospitality service settings in recent years and large hotel chains have gradually adopted their services for housekeeping and butler services, interacting with customers and fulfilling concierge and front-desk tasks,” said Dr Zhibin Lin, professor of marketing at Durham University Business School.

“Previous opinion has been that customers felt uneasiness and discomfort when being served by robots, however this research suggests that customers actually, on the whole, have more positive interactions with robots and enjoy the experience of being served by one”.

The Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Audencia Business School and Jimei University also contributed to the report.

The study will likely be welcomed by Relay Robotics, which provides delivery robots to hotel groups including Marriott, Hilton, Westin, Mandarin Oriental, Holiday Inn and Radisson. It recently raised $10 million in financing to accelerate development and deployment of its robots.