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Glasgow's Bellgrove Hotel, a homeless shelter, finds itself in TripAdvisor's Top 100 best hotels in the United Kingdom

The community site has again been caught in a flagrant act of deception basing a ranking for best British hotels on fanciful character appraisals.

Despite their «sophisticated algorithms» and their attentive «monitoring» of comments posted on the web, it has been duped by small pranksters who succeeded at getting a homeless shelter in the Top 100 of recommended establishments for the quality of its service in the United Kingdom.

If only it was the homeless who were sheltered for the night that judged on the comfort of the mattress, on the taste of the morning coffee, and the kindness of social workers…. not even! Anyone could have posted comments from their cell phones while returning on the metro or sidewalks. These are surely imposters who amused themselves by flooding the site with wacky praise. This could bring one to smile if the affair wasn’t an additional illustration of the lack of rigorous methodology and serious ethics to give a grade of sincere appreciation to a hotel. The ranking was quickly modified as the prank was easily discovered. But what proves that the rest of the ranking is more reliable? And what about the more classic hotels that are either victims of this conspiracy of defamation or lame ducks, raised in the rankings by agencies that specialize in good e-reputations?

TripAdvisor, and its consorts, show once again how an interesting idea was undermined by a lack of seriousness and by mixing genres. The absence of verifying actual stays before commenting on an establishment is the first unpardonable offense. It is otherwise surprising that the new Afnor standard, responsible for organizing the Farwest of commentary, has not marked this as an obligation. Any reliability is gravely called into question. More dangerous still is the potential use of TripAdvisor customer e-mail addresses. As with Facebook, its economic model relies on advertisement and the sale of information collected on the site’s visitors. Nothing excludes the hotel clients, regrouped and segmented, also used for commercial transactions for competing institutions.

By displaying a small plaque encouraging clients to give their comments on TripAdvisor, hoteliers do not realize that they are necessarily entering the Trojan horse in their PMS. When it has emptied their client data base, it will be time to complain about the bad economy and the invasion of OTAs. Guaranteed «pure beef», uncontrolled comments on community sites smell more and more like horse meat, a little spoiled. Should we wait for the autopsy of an industry to defend ourselves?

About MKG Group

Since 1985, MKG Group has built a reputation for solid business expertise and substantial know-how in the fields of tourism, lodging and food service. This enables MKG Group to meet the needs of each of its clients by providing the valuable analytical and decision-making skills necessary for success. www.mkg-group.com

Contact: Georges Panayotis, President & CEO

g.panayotis@mkg-group.com / Georges Panayotis, President & CEO

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