Monthly Archives: October 2010

Be careful about what you say on TripAdvisor

People who post fake hotel reviews on TripAdvisor are to be named and shamed – and could face legal action, it has been revealed.

Kwikchex, an online reputation management company acting on behalf of 800 hotels and restaurants, plans to publish a list of ‘thousands of reviewers’ that it suspects of fraudulent and defamatory posts.

Once the list is published, websites that feature user-generated content will have to notify any reviewers on the list. They will be given two weeks to remove their comments. They could face legal action if they cannot prove that they visited the hotels or restaurants concerned.

Kwikchex’s Chris Emmins told The Telegraph: ‘‘People who leave these anonymous reviews, which can damage the reputation of both businesses and individuals, need to realise that not only can they be sued for libel but they can also face criminal prosecution.’

The company said they would apply for a court application that would force the website publisher to disclose any information they held regarding the identity of the poster so that the business could ‘repair the damage done to its reputation’.

Anyone who can prove that they have asked the website, without success, to remove their comments will be exempt from prosecution.

‘In these cases, the website will be presumed to have taken full responsibility for the continued publication of the posts’, Emmins said.

A spokesman for TripAdvisor said it could not comment on any proposed legal action but said it would only release the names of its reviewers if ordered to do so by a court of law.

The editors of the Good Hotel Guide last week accused TripAdvisor of being ‘brazen and shameless’ in printing malicious reviews without checking their authenticity.

GHG editor Adam Raphael said his publication had been besieged by hoteliers complaining about ‘fraudulent reviews’ and ‘bogus reviewers’ on TripAdvisor.

‘Millions of consumers are also beginning to realise that they have been gulled by bogus reviewers,’ he said.

‘Many hotels are now massaging their TripAdvisor profile by inspiring reviews which pretend to be independent, but which, in reality, are written by friends, relations and public relations companies.’

$400 Million JW Marriott Slated To Open In Chicago On November 11

On November 11 the new JW Marriott hotel at 208 S. La Salle is scheduled to open and it promises to bring North Michigan Avenue panache to the work-aday canyons of the Loop.

Hotel markets are notoriously cyclical, and this business will open as demand for lodging is improving, but not too rapidly. At 610 rooms, the JW Marriott will be Chicago’s largest new hotel since the Hyatt at McCormick Place opened in 1998, so it will pose a challenge to the marketplace. If the economy bogs down again in 2011, such a large new player will force other hotels to trim their rates.

Rates will start at $300 plus a night.

Continuing labor unrest in SFO has hoteliers on edge

There is growing concern among hotel and business leaders about the continuing labor unrest in the city — and the effect that might have.

Hotel industry and business leaders held an unprecedented gathering on Thursday inside the Hilton Hotel, where workers are holding a 6-day strike.

The management’s message was dramatic and they called the hotel employees union, “one of the leading threats to the economic recovery of San Francisco.”

Off and on for several years, the hotel workers have staged strikes and launched boycotts over salary and benefits. Their latest round comes after more than a year without a contract.

On Wednesday, more than 800 workers at the Union Square Hilton Hotel walked off the job and will remain on the picket line for six days. The hotels say the action is harming the perception of the city and the “San Francisco experience.”

St. Regis Hotel General Manager Toni Knorr feels the repeated labor actions are disruptive.

“We need to protect the reputation of the city. Our customers who’ve been to the city have commented on how disruptive this action is to them,” she said.

Patricia Breslin is head of the Hotel Council and believes what she calls the union’s pattern of actions, sends the wrong message.

However the Unite Here Local 2 union leaders say the tourism industry continues to thrive and they have been working without a contract since August of 2009.

“San Francisco is a key destination because of the workers and the services they provide. People will continue to return and hotels need to recognize if they want business to return, they need to take care of their workers,” Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer said.

“Conde Nast Magazine” recently rated San Francisco the top tourist destination in America for the 18th year in a row.

Hotel Managers say leisure travel is just a tiny percentage of the industry business. About 80 percent comes from conventions that book years in advance and managers worry repeated labor issues will cause conventions to look elsewhere.

“It’s abou the experience of San Francisco. The experience right now outside the doors of this hotel [the Hilton] is not the experience or perception we want to give the rest of the world,” Steve Falk from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce said.

Starwood to open Westin Phoenix Downtown

Starwood Hotels & Resorts today announced plans to open its first Westin hotel in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2011.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will offer a prime location just one block from the Phoenix Convention Center, the city’s largest convention and entertainment facility. The 242-room hotel will feature sophisticated oversized guest rooms, averaging 550 square feet, as well as a full suite of the Westin brand’s signature amenities and services.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will occupy nine floors of the Freeport McMoRan Center, a significant new landmark on the downtown Phoenix skyline. Located at 333 North Central Avenue, the mixed-use complex will also feature 2,100 square feet of ground floor retail, premium office space and indoor parking. Surrounded by a choice of restaurants, shops and nightlife, the new hotel will be across the street from a METRO light rail station, where guests can hop on a train to Sky Harbor International Airport.

Hotel rates begin to climb as demand grows

Signs of escalating room rates are emerging as more people are traveling. Hotel rates are rising again as demand for rooms has grown.

Marriott, an industry bellwether, said last week that its rates in the second quarter rose for the first time in two years.

Travelocity says rates of rooms in the nation’s 20 largest markets booked on its travel site for fall — from Sept. 7 to Nov. 19 — are 3.5% higher than a year ago.

Smith Travel Research, which tracks the hotel industry, found average rates in the top 25 U.S. markets up 3.5% in August.

Last year was dreadful for the industry as people stayed at home. While hotel operators have been optimistic that customers would trickle back this year, they expected room rates to lag.

But rates are rising as demand for rooms has grown. The number of rooms sold in the U.S. rose 8.3% in August vs. a 7.4% year-to-date average, says Smith Travel Research.