11 Feb 2011
Commenting as chair of a panel discussion at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International's first conference, Michael – Director of the School’s Senior Executive Programme – added that the issue will become more significant in the near future, especially given the likelihood that the UK's hotel ratings system will disappear.
He said: "The panel discussion was one of the most insightful sessions of the day, with the audience and panellists challenging one another with very probing questions.
"While I agree that hotels need to engage consumers online, interesting points were raised about consumer review sites needing to create a more sophisticated feedback system.
"Faced with the potential disappearance of an official UK hotel ratings system, this issue takes on even greater significance."
Gathered representatives of the hotel and travel industry urged more cooperation between customer review websites, such as TripAdvisor, and hotels to ensure potential guests can get the most accurate feedback.
The UK government-backed hotel ratings system will soon be the subject of "review", with TripAdvisor's Guillaume Thevenot arguing that it will die out as online feedback sites become the source of choice for prospective customers.
Hotel specialist and novelist Daniel Craig said hotels need to concentrate on adapting to the increasing online presence of feedback by hotel guests, for example by responding to clarify perceived "inaccuracies".
Also represented on the discussion panel was UK-based firm Q Hotels which said it has already implemented a "response to TripAdvisor" feedback. The panel agreed that this example shows exactly what the industry needs.
Association president Ingunn Hofseth said: "Our first ever conference in London brought together some of the greatest minds in the hotel and travel industry from across Europe, resulting in a thrilling and lucrative debate on the UK ratings system.
"The fact that we are a pan-European organisation meant that we were able to discuss every aspect of key industry issues and start to address them from every possible angle."