In a recent interview, the founder and CEO of TripAdvisor said: “Trust, it’s all about trust. It is in our best interest to build and maintain trust. And it is working – people are coming back.” During a recent post-project review, however, the hotel general manager I was interviewing found this statement highly ironic.
His hotel had initially opened partially, and from day one, guest scores had been a solid “excellent” and reviews had been extremely positive. This quickly resulted in a page-one ranking on TripAdvisor and similar websites. As the remaining guest rooms were added floor by floor to the inventory, the number of guest reviews increased proportionately.
Then suddenly, one day the hotel found its location in the listing to be well over a hundred. What had happened? Upon checking with TripAdvisor, the hotel was advised that the algorithm had detected “a sudden increase in positive guest comments” and concluded that the hotel team had been artificially increasing the number of guest reviews. I do sincerely believe that this is not the case for this particular hotel. Explanations by the hotel were in vain. “The algorithm had spoken”!
Algorithms can be flawed, of course… At a recent hotel investment conference in Singapore, a senior risk analyst provided a great example of this: He asked the audience what the similarities between Anne Hathaway and Hathaway-Berkshire are. There are none, of course. But he did demonstrate that every time the actress got positive reviews on a recently released motion picture, the algorithm would pick up positive social media noise around it, mistake it for Hathaway-Berkshire and positively influence the share price!
Perhaps in cases like the above hotel, we should take people’s word for it and simply trust them and give them the benefit of the doubt… 😉
Happy hotel openings!