Hotels Go After Online Commenters

More and more customers are turning to online forums and review sites to vent about bad customer service experiences, but now one industry has taken notice and is looking to strike back.

According to CNN, several hotels are doing some investigative work to track down anonymous commenters who post negative reviews of their establishments. “An increasing number of image-conscious properties have begun connecting the dots between unbylined write-ups that appear on such popular travel sites as TripAdvisor or Yelp, and your personal information, such as your loyalty program preferences,” CNN reports.

One hotel representative in Florida told CNN that he uses “locations, dates and usernames” that pop up in these posts in order to “triangulate a guest’s identity.” In some cases this is easier than others, like when  commenters use usernames very similar to their real names. But obviously, this method isn’t perfect.

So what happens when a hotel does feel confident that they’ve linked an anonymous user to one of their customers? Do they send the hospitality police after you? Not exactly.

“Pan a property, and you could get a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking you to reconsider your review. Or even a black mark against you in the chain's guest database,” CNN reports. A black mark does sound menacing, but then again, if you’re upset enough to write a bad review about a hotel, there probably isn’t much of a chance that you will end up returning there, so I’m not sure how big of an impact it will have.

In general, if you’re looking to vent about a bad experience at a hotel – or any other establishment – the best option may still be to do it in person or over the phone. The trick, as we’ve written before, is to remain calm and start by directing your complaint to the appropriate person responsible for the issue. If that fails, then reach out to management and consider asking for a discount or voucher in return for your trouble.

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