Review Sites


Online review sites enable hoteliers to have conversations with thousands of potential customers around the world at minimal cost. If done effectively, delegates at the Yorkshire Hotel Show (YHS) 2014 felt hoteliers could really help to increase bookings.

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Business Benefits

Following a debate with the hotel industry on the merits and pitfalls of review sites at YHS 2014, we’ve put together the following suggestions to help hoteliers maximise the opportunity that such review sites offer if used effectively:

Prepare and Plan

  1. Respond constructively to reviews you feel may be unfair – don’t just ignore them
  2. Try not to get too downhearted because of a small number of negative comments – not everyone enjoys everything the same as everyone else
  3. Don’t react immediately to a bad review. Stop, think about it, go and do something else before coming back to reply
  4. Reply in the same way that you would if you were explaining it face to face, the guest may have put out the review via ‘faceless’ online media but you don’t have to hide behind it
  5. Be proactive – if you’ve updated something in the hotel or made some great changes, go back to reviewers and let them know


If you would like to know more about the debate held at The Yorkshire Hotel Show regarding review sites contact



Personal Approach

  1. Remembering the preparation: if possible; pick up the telephone and have a discussion about the review with the customer – if an especially bad review, win them back with your care and concern
  2. Upload more quality photos of the hotel to give review site users a further insight in to the hotel’s best assets or hidden gems
  3. Dedicate time in your week to have conversations with reviewers and manage your approach
  4. Use other social media to re-circulate good reviews using images where appropriate
  5. Consider reviews from varying customer types and analyse them to spot trends for each e.g. some guests may be novice stayers and will have different expectations from seasoned stayers

Deal Companies


Where next for the third party deal companies? With their Big Data and serious backers, deal offer companies have proliferated in the past couple of years and they have been a mixed blessing. Some operators have fallen into the trap of relying on them for all of their marketing presence. Some have carefully managed their foray into this marketing tool whilst others have steered clear altogether.

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Business Benefits

Whichever camp you fall into, there are some serious points of experience that we can share.

There is one key benefit of utilising these services

  • Mass distribution of your product or service


Other than that what are you getting? Well, your brand will certainly get exposure and you can be sure of getting some bookings for your property which is good news too. The important thing is to think it through and plan carefully your third-party campaign to get what you need from it.

Some things to consider:

  1. What is the net income you want to achieve (after costs, VAT, staff time handling bookings and administration and so on)?
  2. How many bookings of this value do you plan to include in your overall sales mix?
  3. What about timing? Will an ill-timed deal simply displace higher rate business?
  4. Done too often deal offers can become dangerously, the only business you end up with.
  5. Is it part of your year round strategy? A knee-jerk reaction to a low period of bookings may be the reasoning, but is it the right decision and especially if it’s just responding to a good salesman at the deal company?
  6. Do you have the resources in place to handle the administration of the bookings and the accounting – some systems are easy, others not so. Remember the hidden cost of this.


Deal companies can be good for your business if managed well. They are probably here to stay for some time but remember that it’s your product or service and you should remain in control.



On the basis that your decision to work with them is for the right reasons then it’s important to think about your approach.

  • Get to know your contact well at the deal company – the right relationship is important just as it is with your customers.
  • Learn about their customer base – what demographic profiles are they?
  • Obtain past examples of deals they have done for similar businesses to yours.
  • What have been the outcomes in volumes?
  • Examples of successful packages will confirm for you price levels and volumes.

Take care on selling price – just because they say it will sell at a lower price, making it easier for them, doesn’t mean you have to do that  – if you have done your earlier calculations you know how many you want to sell and at what price.

  • Calculate commissions based on your net figure requirement and negotiate with your contact reduced commission based on their likely revenue from the deal not just the commission % rate.
  • Consider paying a fee rather than commission – commission based deals may help cash-flow as a ‘pay as you go’ but after your first paid deal you can take bookings direct, probably pay in arrears and then pay the deal company after the revenue has arrived.

Be prepared to walk – they cannot sell anything without your product.


The idea of a ‘risk based’ design…

When hiring an architect or a designer, a client is buying intellectual property. A good architect will provide more than just a great idea.

Most architects will find it offensive if you define them as problem solvers. Architects like to think of themselves and tend to describe their own work, in wider more poetic, social political or conceptual terms.

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Concept of an idea…

Many clients complain that architects are inaccessible.  They have a vision of the building they wish to create and will push for it to happen in their way, sometimes on the expense of not really listening to the actual needs of those they are appointed by.

For those architects, the specific site conditions, planning policies, building regulations and the daily practical needs of the occupier are limitations, harming their designs.

But some of the most iconic and successful building of our time are based on a concept of an idea, The Spiral Gugenheim in New York by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Pompidou Centre in Paris by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, exposing the ‘internals’ of the building and, the latest addition to the London skyline, the Shard (the name mirroring the design) again by Renzo Piano.

Function or form?

Indeed, without the creative mind of the architect these buildings would not come to be. And so one might claim that this is indeed Architecture – so where is the risk? And more importantly, is there another way of making edifices and designing spaces?

When a project is described and then indeed conceived and drawn to reflect an ‘Idea’, function and practicalities tend be secondary.  Almost an afterthought.

In essence, the same list of restrictions (planning, site, use), if taken as information, rather than restrictions, and layered into the design space, create an incredible jigsaw puzzle that a good architect, and indeed architecture, will solve.

On one hand, it seems that adding to this mix any externally imposed ideas, concepts or metaphors is creating an unsolvable problem.  On the other hand, a design based purely on functionality will be soulless and uninspiring.

Unforgettable guest experiences…

If functionality is considered carefully, and treated as a design tool, the idea emerges and becomes inherent through this process and will contain all that is needed to produce beautiful designs and unforgettable guest experiences from inside to out.


After all a hotel needs more ‘artistic’ flair; than a hospital or a factory – where practicality is the name of the game.  It all depends on how wide the definition of functionality is; specifically, with regards to use of the space.

Doesn’t the fantastic view which your guests want to see in the morning fall under functionality? How about their sense of privacy, both in the room and out on the balcony? How easy it is for a guest to find their way around – to the spa, restaurant and lounge without signage. And what will they experience along this route to the spa – do they walk with a robe and slippers near the kitchen, or via a private space overlooking landscaped grounds?

What about maintenance. How easy is it to clean each room? How long does it take? There is no doubt that these are functional considerations which will directly affect the hotelier’s profit. This, in turn, is a consideration for the architect, or interior designer, in the choice of materials, extent of built in furniture and geometries.

These ‘limitations’ themselves are extremely intriguing and relevant to the design. They are deeply rooted in human needs and desires in relation to a specific environment and to other people around. Why wouldn’t architecture, based purely on this wide definition of the functional, be beautiful inside and out?

Unlike what we may assume, and what many architects may want us to believe, functionality does clash with externally imported, and therefore irrelevant, concepts.

The writer is a Registered Architect and Director of, London based, RIBA Chartered Practice, Scenario Architecture.