Tools to answer the satisfaction survey about our experience in the accommodation we booked.
In our blog, we disseminate good practices. Through a series of posts, we will try to offer you tools to have good judgment in the process of selecting an accommodation from the published listings. In this way, we will minimize the risk of booking poor quality establishments, falling into scams or cheating offers and we will reserve with peace of mind, obtaining a high hit rate, thus avoiding bad experiences.
In this post we are going to explain how to assess our stay after checking out an accommodation booked through the Booking.com platform.
In order to correctly assess an accommodation, first you have to differentiate 3 main blocks:
- Title (review summary)
- Written review
The system that Booking.com uses so that users can issue an evaluation of their stay is quite simple and fast. It is not mandatory to leave a written comment to be able to evaluate the stay, but it is necessary to enter a title as a synthesis of our comment and to rate the experience globally through a scale of 1 to 10.
In the past, before the end of 2019, the system asked us to rate the following categories, and a weighted average was obtained through 4 emoticons according to the degree of satisfaction. Each emoticon had a score of 2.5 out of 10.
- Value for money
Currently, a global rating is assigned although categories such as: bed comfort, breakfast, Wifi or Views can also be scored (although it does not affect the overall score).
The “Comfort of the Beds” and the “Views” are two very subjective aspects. In the first place, it is very difficult for everyone who visits us to experience the same sensation when sleeping in a bed, since it is an element with a very wide range of preferences. We are surprised that the system allows us to assess a category such as “Views”, because in principle, the ad should show through the photographs, what views our room or the accommodation in general has. It is true that many times, the establishment assigns a room with views that do not correspond to those requested (beach, street, mountain, etc.), for various reasons:
- There are no rooms available with views at the time of check-in.
- We do not request any preference when booking.
- The establishment, even reserving Room with a view assigns us another one due to overbooking problems.
- When booking the same day of check-in at the establishment itself, it assigns us a room according to your convenience.
Rate the «Wifi» category, will depend on several factors:
- Is it free or is it paid?Is it slow or is it fast?
- Does enough coverage reach the rooms or only in common areas?
- If it is paid, does it work correctly?
- If it’s free, clients are usually quite tolerant.
Normally, the client expects to have a basic service such as having a quality Internet connection (although it is true that in more isolated areas, technical difficulties may arise, therefore, we have to be understanding). When we go to assess this connection, it is easy to compare our fiber optic connection with others of lower quality. Not all accommodations can afford to make an investment to offer quality Wi-Fi connection in all rooms. That is why many times they offer this connection only in common areas. Although today many technical problems have been overcome and it is not a problem, there are still obsolete facilities that present deficiencies. It will be up to the management of each establishment to allocate an item to renovate or update the facility.
- Customers will never be completely satisfied, despite having selected their preferences (eg double bed, hard pillows, mountain views).
- The views are predetermined by the location or situation of the establishment.
- These should clearly state the views or room type at the time of booking. Arbitrarily assigning rooms without views creates discomfort among customers, whether they selected their preferences or not.
- Having a poor quality Wi-Fi connection, intermittent, only in certain areas of the establishment or payment, will generate anger among our customers, because nowadays no one could imagine paying a supplement for having electricity in our room.
Minimum essential requirements to become a reference accommodation:
- Perform maintenance tasks periodically (check the proper functioning of all installations).
- Allocate a budget item annually to improve our equipment.
- De-seasonalize the business: our seasonal offers do not imply a decrease in the level of quality of our services.
- Comply with all municipal ordinances and regional laws regarding tourist accommodation.
- Taking care of our image on the Internet: having a professional website and keeping our company profiles on social networks updated.
- Show professional photographs that always correspond to reality. Use proper and honest descriptions of our equipment and situation.
- Listen to the suggestions of our clients and quickly resolve their complaints. Always serve our customers with respect.
- Respond to reservation requests in the shortest possible time. Inform about our availability in real time (avoid overbooking)
- Create professional vacation rental contracts (establish the different entry and exit policies, bonds or security deposits, payment conditions, liability conditions, etc.)
- Create a document on Standards of Behavior and Use Inform about our Cancellation Policy (establish a penalty system to avoid “no-show” and minimize cancellations). Have a flexible rate system (our own algorithm must take into account our direct competition, the area of influence, seasonality, news about the sector, etc.)
Satisfied or Very Satisfied?
We are aware that the quality perceived by the client is always a subjective data, but don’t you think that an opinion should be based on a mixture of objective and subjective variables?
In other words, if the accommodation has fulfilled everything that it sells and publishes (services, comfort, cleanliness, real photographs, descriptions, invoices without unsolicited concepts, etc.), why are there clients who do not score with the highest rating ?
When an accommodation complies with what it publishes, and the client receives what was agreed, even many times exceeding their expectations, it should receive the highest rating. But surely you wonder: and if the photographs really correspond to the advertisement, but the beds were uncomfortable or the treatment of the staff was not adequate?
Before answering, we should reflect and ask ourselves:
Are they uncomfortable because they are old? Are they uncomfortable because I usually sleep on soft beds? Are they uncomfortable because I usually sleep in oversized beds?
Dealing with the staff has not really been adequate? Did the staff attend to my complaints? Did the accommodation solve (as far as possible) my problems? Did the property try to do what it could to reverse the situation?
Have I read all the information about the rules of behavior and use of the establishment? Did I get enough information about the House Rules? Did the vacation rental contract include some kind of hidden or abusive clause? Still, did you agree with them?
Many times, clients try to assess their stay with a certain lack of rigor. We cannot assume or expect that all accommodations will renew their beds and pillows annually. Nor can we demand that a tourist apartment that does not offer the services of the hotel industry, have daily cleaning and change of sheets without being a hotel or aparthotel. Each type of establishment has a cost structure that defines it.
The equipment of an accommodation suffers a certain depreciation throughout its useful life. The wear and tear of each element will depend on the type of client, whether it undergoes continuous or sporadic use, whether it suffers from hidden defects, its own planned obsolescence and the lack or lack of maintenance.
It is advisable to rate with a “Very Satisfied” instead of “Satisfied” when we perceive a real effort on the part of the management and staff of the establishment so that we have a comfortable, pleasant and exceptional stay.
Our experience traveling plays a fundamental role, but we cannot base our assessment exclusively on past experiences. Our recommendation is to observe different elements that make up the establishment: before the reservation, during and after.
- Before booking: ease and usability of the booking process, good communication with the accommodation, good presentation and professional image, etc.
- During our stay: comfort, cleanliness, value for money, staff, location, services, price charts with taxes not included, resolution of incidents, etc.
- After the reservation: advertising spam, additional charges on our bill for concepts not enjoyed or not consumed, etc.
How do we detect the truthfulness of the reviews?
Comments posted on Booking.com are deleted after 24 months. This policy favors renewal and offers the possibility for many establishments to draw up improvement plans, adopting the necessary measures not to leave the system, stay or upgrade.
Scores are smoothed out and statistical observations far from the mean end up disappearing or have little influence on the final result. To do this, establishments must maintain a significant number of opinions within 24 months of generation.
We can filter the establishments in order of score. Still, we recommend looking at some of the following features to try to detect fraudulent comments:
- Total number of scores in the last 24 months (> 10)
- Origin of scores (Booking.com publishes the client’s country: what percentage each country occupies of the total)
- Type of reservation: group of friends, family, couples, client traveling alone, etc.
- Date of comment and reservation (high season, low season)
- Number of Ratings with comments vs Ratings without comments
Normally, establishments that try to generate a false reputation through illegitimate comments tend to have few comments (between 5 and 10) with an average score of 10, the opinions come from the same country, they are usually customers who travel alone and they tend to be issued in low season. The percentage of ratings without comment is usually higher than the percentage of ratings with comment.
When an establishment simulates a reservation, Booking.com could cross their data, so they get the data of an employee and make a reservation equivalent to the minimum stay (eg 1 night). They will have previously modified the price in order to pay the minimum commission to Booking.com and thus obtain a fraudulent evaluation without comment. Their only goal: to get bookings through good reputation.
Booking.com, like other platforms and online travel agencies, does a hard job to detect false opinions that it eliminates and of course tries to prevent them from being published. Once the behavior of the collaborating user is detected, he ends up closing his account.
Traveller Review Awards 2021
Every year, Booking.com rewards its collaborators with an average score higher than 8.5 (establishments that publish ads on its online platform) with the «Booking.com Traveller Review Awards». We can publish this recognition in the form of an award on our website or on our social networks.
We consider that an average of 8.5 to obtain this recognition is a low grade, since excellence would have to start from a minimum of 9.
Our own classification is as follows:
- Excellent accommodations: >9
- Very good accommodations: <9 and >8.5
- Good accommodations: <8.5 and > 8
- Poor accommodations: <8 and >7.5
- Bad accommodations: <7.5 and >7
- Very poor accommodations <7
How to achieve neutrality in the system?
On occasion we have detected clients who are themselves users of reference communities such as Tripadvisor. They usually use as a cover letter the number of reviews or opinions they have written in this medium to intimidate or even coerce the establishment. There are also cases in which the client requests to obtain free accommodation in exchange for advertising through their social media accounts. In case of refusal, the “influencer” tries to threaten the establishment or retaliates, all of which are criminal behaviors. The fact of having traveled a lot does not automatically imply becoming a critic …
It would be essential that the accommodations could also provide information or simply their version about the behavior of their clients. At Booking.com it is possible to respond to comments, as long as the user leaves us a written comment. Other platforms such as Airbnb only publish comments once the customer and establishment have written their opinion. On the other hand, Tripadvisor or Google, allow unidentified users to write reviews about their stay, something that generates uncertainty and little reliability. All systems should confirm if our client has a valid reservation number and in turn if we recognize him as a client. Then, without knowing the content of the opinion and after our confirmation, the comment should be published, not without these requirements.
In order to comment on an establishment, it should be mandatory to prove that the client has actually stayed in said accommodation by providing evidence such as:
- Reservation number
- Check-in and check-out date
- Name and surname
- Passport or Identity Document Number
- Other security measures: last four digits of the credit card with which the reservation was paid, date the reservation was made, email associated with the reservation, last two digits of the reservation amount, etc.
These security measures would provide reliability and neutrality to the system. Like any system based on natural selection, we would minimize opportunism and the fraudulent use of “platforms or communities of opinion” to favor or injure accommodation. This same system should not allow the registration of new opinions in the database by clients who have made malicious use or who tend to perform bad practices. Likewise, there should be a black list of conflicting clients or a history of bad behavior. We would thus avoid being victims of the system itself in duplicate: first by having to house a person with a high risk of bad behavior and second by the risk of being coerced and issuing a negative assessment of our establishment.
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