EU Consumer Summit 2014
The aim of this study is to look in-depth on the issue of online consumer reviews in hotels
Study Timeline: January to mid-May
Website checking: Over 400 websites were checked and the majority of websites were mixed travel/booking and reviews websites
Stakeholder survey: 58 responses to a stakeholder survey: 11 Member
State authorities, 18 ECC, 17 consumer organisations, 5 industry associations, 7 web operators
The extent of the problem is uncertain and varies by region and country.
Awareness of the extent of the problem also varies, but most stakeholders agree it is a growing problem.
2 industry associations
3 consumer orgs
8 MS authorities -ECC
8 consumer orgs
Minor problem or one involving isolated cases:
13 MS authorities-ECC
3 consumer orgs
Default setting is by date on 80% of website. Just 50% of websites allow user to sort reviews
70% show quantitative and qualitative criteria. Majority have 4-7 criteria.
60% of websites don't explain scoring system
3 of every 4 websites showed how many online reviews they have…
Only 1 in 10 limited reviews to a given time range
20% state that “only verified reviews will be published”
- 1 in 4 websites allow a consumer to post reviews directly!
- 1 in 3 websites allowed social media accounts
- 1 in 2 websites required an account to be created
Less than 1 in 4 websites required an email link/ booking reference to post a review
Only 1 in 5 websites allowed consumer to submit photos …
Less than 1 in 5 websites had the “ dates of stay ” of the consumer indicated
Over 60% had “terms and conditions”… but only 40% state how reviews will be treated..
70% state “ right to delete reviews ”…
40% have “ right to change reviews ”
16% state “ reviews will not be changed or modified ”
On nearly 80%, no clear indication how hotel can complain
Verification of the reviewer's identity and actual stay are key!
Majority of stakeholders were broadly in support of: National/EU-wide awareness
campaigns. Also : guidance and best-practice, more active monitoring and enforcement. Accreditation schemes more strongly supported by consumer orgs.
* Limited responses web-operators: favour mostly company specific initiatives
Ability of the industry to self-regulate – can businesses be trusted to selfregulate, taking account of their own interests (or business models)
Privacy issues - provision (and protection) of personal data versus ensuring absolute online anonymity
Legal considerations/burden of proof issues – who is legally responsible for fake reviews: the review website operator, the business owner or the consumer
Resource issues for review website operators and authorities – only big players can afford some technical solutions (software) and/or teams of editorial staff. Some national authorities experience resource constraints
Lack of consumer awareness regarding pitfalls, responsibilities and options for complaints