B.

More insightful Guest Review System

Dear partners, 

Happy to share a few important updates related to the Guest Review System that was discussed during Click. 2021. You can watch the full video of the session with Rahul Chidgopkar, Senior Product Manager; Pranay Das, Product Marketing Manager on our Click. 2021 event page.

This topic gets a lot of partners’ attention in the Partner Community. I know that many of you would like to change the system logic the way it serves best for the property owners. However, the biggest challenge for the product team is to build a system that will both serve guests and partners needs. And it is great to see how many steps forward we all do to achieve this. Here are the key updates I want to mention:

No-show reviews are improved

Our product team managed to improve the no-show reviews i.e. reviews left by real customers who had made bookings (therefore are ‘verified’ reviews), but who did not actually stay. Previously, partners had to contact us to get these reviews removed. Now 95% of no-show reviews are automatically removed from our platform without the partner needing to take any action. 

Anonymous reviews concern is recognized

The Guest Review System product team received sufficient feedback from partners that helped them to recognize the concern of “anonymous reviews”. I think it is a big win for Community partners as well cause I know many of you mentioned this in the comments. The dilemma is that many guests prefer to provide feedback anonymously, so we are currently exploring all possibilities with this and are committed to making any changes, if we do, in the early part of this year. 

New insights and tailored advice features

The product team works on several initiatives that will help partners use reviews data and insights to understand their guests better. Here are some new features being explored:

  • Filters that partners can use to dig deeper into different types of reviews. Ex. who your happy/unhappy customers were, where they come from, reviews about specific topics (breakfast, staff, etc);
  • Benchmarking with your competitors;
  • Artificial intelligence will analyze your reviews as well and help to focus on the problematic areas;
  • Tailored advice based on your property performance to help you improve your performance. For example: we will analyze the guest’s history and past reviews to inform you in advance that she is vegetarian. This will enable you to make necessary arrangements to cater to the guest.

Well, as you can see, we can expect some really exciting features based on artificial intelligence. What do you think about Guest Reviews System updates and new insight features?


11
BrookAve

 

  1. No-show reviews are improved
    1. What examples of the other 5% not auto removed are there?  

 

B.
Sergei - Commu…

Hi, BrookAve! Thanks for your question. In some cases a review requires further investigation, so it cannot be removed automatically. Of course, if we see that it is still supposed to be removed, it will be removed.

7
Isle of Wight …

A no-show review should not need further investigation. People who do not show up should not be allowed to post reviews. Never, ever, ever.

B.
Sergei - Commu…

Well, users make mistakes sometimes. Our product team wants to make sure it is not the case. 

7
Isle of Wight …

I think that's a very poor response to the problems with the guest review system.

Committed to nothing with the anonymous reviews.

No change to the scoring system, so guests can still post nonsense overall scores that bear no relevance to the scores given on individual elements.

No mention of the problems with dishonest, racist and generally offensive reviews.

I'm glad you're excited by not very much though ......

6
michael beeston

Regarding the review system (again !!)  When guests make a review fine (I have no objections to what  they say) BUT when a guest uses the non smiling icon and says things like.....Nothing wrong perfect/ did not want to leave/sorry to go/nothing nothing nothing ect.it comes up that 10% 5% or whatever percentage are not happy compared to the ones who use only the smiling icon !!.Why have this unsmiling icon at all !!!!..Why,Why. if a guest wants to make a negative review they can do it on a regular review.....Why do we have this useless Icon ????.It is purely a Computer Generated message.

B.
Sergei - Commu…

Hello, michael beeston! Indeed, unfortunately, some users are not attentive enough to see that this unhappy smiley face section is not supposed to be filled if a guest didn't have any bad experience. The bright side is that this does not affect the property score. So even if a guest put "nothing, everything was great" to the unhappy smiley face section, it won't affect your property score. As for the visual side, yes, it looks a bit weird, I agree. However, people can see what the person meant when they read the review.

6
michael beeston

Hi Sergei.....Thanks for the response and I agree. Some Guests are not attentive enough to not fill it in BUT then WHY do we have it ??? if it does NOTHING/Does not effect the review score then WHY does BDC not just DELETE  this unsmiling Weird face , it just creates " an awful" feeling of negativity for the Hosts, especially during this terrible terrible Pandemic time...Many thanks Michael The Pinnacle.

B.
Sergei - Commu…

Hi, michael beeston! I wouldn't say it does nothing. For many guests and partners, it is a way to deliver feedback about what went wrong. Because we see some guests using it in the wrong way, it doesn't mean they all do so. Users make mistakes, unfortunately. It shouldn't be a reason for bad feelings, especially when they say that nothing was wrong and they were happy to stay at the property.  

6
michael beeston

Hi Sergei.................Maybe.??  .if you had an "accomodation property" (which I don,t think you do ?/) you would understand from a Host a little differently, you think  BDC !!! But thanks for the reply anyway.....Best regards Michael.

 

One day come to Aussie and stay with us................you would Love it.  Cheers.

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Hi Sergei,

The community feels that the changes to the review system don't go far enough or do enough to ameliorate our concerns. We echo what Isle of Wight has said that anonymous reviews shouldn't be permitted as we as moteliers/hoteliers/backpackers etc don't get to hide behind the veil of anonymity 

Our biggest concern however is with the user-selected choice of the overall score as guests for whatever reason don't select an overall score that works with their individual aggregates. Here are a few examples.

Example review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this case, customer has manually selected '8' when the overall score based on aggregate should be '10'. Here's another one. 

 

Example 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be clear, the community isn't trying to 'decieve' or 'control' what feedback guests leave but we do feel the current system unfairly penalises properties. Do you have official statistics on how many properties have experienced a rating 'drop' due to the review system change and do you know when/if a change to the review system will happen or an official response to the numerous topics raised on the issue will be issued? 

Kind regards,

Rodger & Tilly

6
michael beeston

Hello Roger and Tilly

Thanks for replying to this very "interesting subject." we are the same and I am sure many Hosts are asking the same question time and time again...............we have scored a perfect 10 4 years in a row  for The Pinnacle BUT the last few reviews have said ..Wonderful/Never better/Best stay/Marvelous/Lovely hosts BUT although we get 1010 10 10  10 (just like your examples) we have scored 2 8's overall !!! !!!!!!!!........................YES !!! agree with you guys....We are being PENALISED for during a Brilliant job !!!...Makes No sense. !!!

Nice to hear from you ..where are you located ???  We are The Pinnacle Apartments Gold Coast Queensland.

Best regards....Michael and Rita.

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Hi Michael & Rita!

Delightful to hear from you! We run the Alpine View Motel down in Beautiful Te Anau in Southland New Zealand. We're the Gateway to Milford Sound. We've made threads on this topic before but sadly we never get a proper response from booking.com on them =(

The previous owners neglected the motel and we've spent the last two years fixing it up and renovating only for our rating to fall when if anything, our aggregate scores have gone up since we took possession. It's disheartening for us as property owners

1
Noel O'Brien

Two year's ago a guest who stayed with us for two day's gave us a review of 2.5 for everything  , When we phoned him to know why he was all apology and said that his review was meant for a different property  ,  He also texted his apology again later , When we contacted Booking. com  they said that they could do nothing about it unless the guest contacted them  , I phoned the guest and he promised to change it and never did ,  I feel that this is very unfair on us as this review did bring down our rating ,

Regards, 

Noel and family 

Melrose Bed and Breakfast 

 

1
SWLinPHX

Same thing happened to us.  We got scores in all individual categories that were well above what the "overall" score (the only one that counts) was.  If there are several categories each requiring a rating then the guest should not be able to decide on a manual overall score. The system should automatically calculate the average to the nearest tenth of a point.

10
M Adamopoulou

Hi!

I agree with you...the overall confuses the guests and disappoints us...

 

I think it’s too confusing for the guests...it should be simpler since many guests don’t even bother to leave a review...they prefer to spend their time in enjoying their holidays...

 

Cheers?

1
Karen Dentry

Hi Rodger,

Thanks for your comments which are my feelings exactly about a system that is now bringing down our rating due to the unfair overall guest rating.  We, too, have had the same perfect 10 scores on numerous occasions, only to be given an overall of 8 with no explanation.  It really upsets me after working so hard to ensure (and knowing that) the guest has had a great stay; and in such a competitive location, reviews are paramount to set us apart from other budget accommodation.

How do we get this reverted back to the old system and why was it even changed?

Best regards,

Karen

 

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Hi Karen,

We definitely feel your pain. We use to be at an 8.4 but since 2019, we've dropped down to an 8.3 despite a number of renovations/refurbishments and changes. 

As far as we know, the review system was changed without consultation from the partners back under this thread here. It does say in the thread that it was based on 'input' from partners but booking.com has been great at obfuscating exactly what input it was that they recieved and from whom. 

https://partner.booking.com/en-gb/community/booking-advice-and-updates/…

As you can see, it was widely panned on release and there have been literally dozens of threads from partners asking for it be rolled back. Unfortunately, they've all been ignored or disregarded which I think speaks volumes. I asked Sergei a question a month ago about official statistics on how the review system was recieved and the impact it has had on properties but gotten nothing. It's disappointing from a company that claims to engage with their partners but won't do it here, in a thread about it.

The only way I think we can get them to go back to the old system is to make the feedback deafening from them. Send in complaints or feedback, make threads and keep on being the squeaky wheel. 

If the changes were made on 'industry standards' then it should be easy to provide where they were sourced from, what scientific studies or in-house research they conducted that showed moving to a user-picks overall score was more 'objective' than a mathematical aggregate. Hell, I'd appreciate just a simple 'thanks for your feedback, it will be listened to and steps taken on it'

Kind regards,

Rodger & Tilly

1
Arum Hill Lodge

Hi Rodger and Tilly

I have been away, so only browsing through these comments now.

Thank you for highlighting the above. It is an issue that I too have a problem with,

all the 10's, then overall score of 8 is ridiculous!

 

Cheryl, Arum Hill Lodge, KZN Midlands

3
Fred

We have more case similar to yours than I can remember.

One case has stand out. I reached the Guest with who I had been in extensive contact to prepare her arrival. She was very happy with her stay, and, as yours, left straight 10s except an overall rating of 8.

She told me, as I translate from French to English "I am sorry, I thought 8 was very good."

She promised to change asap the rating to 10. This, as always, never happened.

The obvious:

when faced 4 smileys, a Guest will more likely select the best. The smiley is then converted in a number 2.5 to 10.

When faced a fine rating from 1 to 10, the Guest will less likely select the 10. 

For many Guests "8" is very good, "9" is exceptional and "10" is when you have gone 2 extra miles. Actually, it is how it is presented.

If bdc was seeking more consistency, it would request a rating from 1 to 10 for all categories.

 

6
michael beeston

Kia ora Guys !!!

Lovely to hear from you and we have been to NZ a few times mainly Queenstown....Beautiful to say the least.

Like you I get disapointed from time to time with BDC answers and response BUT they are a HUGE accommodation company and we ( small small stuff) don't have the leverage of the Big Hotel/Motel Groups. 

I have to say I NEVER see any questions or answers from the Marriott/Hilton/Sofitel/Holiday inns or any body such as these monsters !!

That's life and once again for the last 4.5 years I have had nothing but praise for BDC...................Just wish they would would answer some of our questions on a more direct basis instead of saying .."go to our particular website "....such as the Review system ?? and see what it says.

Nice to talk and good luck with your Motel (just had a look on BDC.....Very nice) and when you come over to Queensland stay with us at The Pinnacle where the Champagne is Endless !!!!! hahahaha.

Take care and "Haere ra" for now..................Michael and Rita.

10
M Adamopoulou

Hi Rodger  and Tilly and welcome to the Partner Community.

I tend to believe that the major problem with the Review System is the Overall Rating....the system is confusing...

 

Maybe BDC should give more details to guests how reviews work...

 

I know it’s not our job to inform guests how the review system works but sometimes I do...

 

Please remember to edit your profile...add your property link.

 

Keep well ?

 

 

1
James Kiff

Absolutely agree.  We’ve just had our perfect 10 track record broken by someone putting a 9 overall but 10 for everything and lovely comments.  The overall rating should be an average of all the section ratings.  This is ridiculous.   

I feel really sorry for other comments here who got an overall 8 with consistent 10’s for all sections.  It takes a lot of work to keep a property to a high level and Reviews matter when guests are choosing where to book.   

booking.com - this is an easy algorithm tweak to make.  It helps guests find the true reviews of properties which helps them find what they need to. It helps the partners attract guests who want a special place to stay.  The review system as it is doesn’t help either Guest or partner.   

Thanks

Catherine 

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Hi Catherine,

We completely agree. It's disheartening that booking.com doesn't seem to want to engage with their community on this issue as there have been numerous topics on this matter that haven't been addressed. 

As one of the other commentators said, without pushback from some of the larger partners then I don't think we'll be able to get BDC to change. 

2
Derek Rule

I agree totally with the above contributors.  I have only been with booking.com this year and because of the various lockdowns I have only four reviews from guests who have actually bothered to do one.  Absolutely all individual scores are 10's yet because one guest gave "9" overall (and left not a single word of comment in the review) my score drops to 9.7 and booking .com had the brass neck to tell me that "25% of your guests are less happy than others". - In fact from his verbal comments on leaving he thought the place was "just like home" and "wanted to move here"!. Plainly, just like AirBnB guests, the guests just do not understand the full impact of their markings and  it would be fair fairer if the overall marking was automatically the average of all the constituent parts of the review.

10
M Adamopoulou

Reviews is a very hard issue for all of us!!!

 

Have a beautiful day ?

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Another moronic example of an unhelpful review. 

 

I'd really love if Sergei could just take the time to explain to us the benefit (to partners and to potential guests) of a review that doesn't even give scores. 

What is the point of this? Who does this help?

1
SWLinPHX

What about an explanation of what each star means so as not to confuse guests and hurt hosts?  AirBnB uses a scale where anything less than a perfect score (5 out of 5) is considered bad (or at best a "red flag") and your listing can be removed if your average falls below 4.3.  Yet they offer no explanation despite pleas from hosts for years now.  From experience, most people tend to think 4 stars is very good and 5 is excellent.  We have to train our guests on the meaning without looking like we are fishing for all 5 stars.

Same thing with BdC, but on a 10-star scale.  We almost always get 9's and 10's but when a guest is here we follow up with them upon arrival and the night before departure to see if they had any issues.  One less-than-friendly guest who was rather curt and acted annoyed that we even contacted her said everything was fine and there was nothing that wasn't working or that we need to know about.  She had no complaints about the accommodations or facilities when we asked by phone or in her review.  Yet her "gripe" was that we contacted her too often or were "high maintenance".  I guess speaking once days in advance of arrival, once upon arrival to get her checked in and once the night before departure was too much for her, although many others appreciate us for checking in (and it also helps us avoid guests who leave complaints in reviews without mentioning a thing to us while here -- a huge pet peeve of ours).

Well just to be miserable (besides no complaints and saying the place was roomy and spacious and as described and the three heated 24/7 pool complexes were great), she decided to "stick it to us" with straight 5's across the board!  We have never gotten a review that bad especially when unwarranted and no complaints to us (and only the "high maintenance" claim in the review).  We responded in kind and she later told BdC that she felt 5 out of 10 is average (middle of the road) since it is halfway and just said "it was okay" in her curt tone, offering no specific criticism even then.  Mind you we feel we definitely did not deserve even that for all we provided at such low rates and with no complaints, but we take 50% to mean "F-", as it does in school.  She definitely wanted to rate us low because of her one unfounded complaint, but even she didn't realize that is failing.  Or is it?  We need there to be a legend or guide posted so guests can follow it and leave the review they intend (even the unfair ones).

2
Philew

Hi to all, there are some people who you could never satisfy no matter what you do. We have a guest book they can write in that and say what a wonderful stay, then give a low review and a complaint about something they personally weren't satisfied about. If I can read that they may have a negative review I will leave the show of the reviews until I have a couple of good ones ahead then will click on the review. This is so people can see that that person would have been picky with anything that was done to make their stay a good one. But I know how you feel when you do get a bad review, but then again you can not please everyone. Here in New Zealand B&B is fairly new to some people so they do not understand how it works. Since the pandemic we have found that we are busy than ever, but our reviews show that NZers are a picky bunch.  

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Yeah, I'm not sure that the correct answer is for booking.com to provide guests with more 'education' on what the review system means.

They're already engaged enough to leave a review (good or bad) without needing a 15 page manual with 30 pages of translations on the difference between a 8.9 and a 9.1 rating.

The system needs to be intuitive and accurately reflective of a guests stay so I would propose the following

  • 6 basic scores with the overall score being based on the aggregate
  • If no basic score given for one category, then no review. I had an example review which the image was removed for some reason where the lady gave us a 7 with "no score given' in any of the basic scores. This weeds out the half-arse 'no effort' reviews that we see
  • No anonymous reviews 
  • The ability to respond to EVERY review. It feels like a gut punch when someone leaves like a 1 but you can't respond
  • A better 'dispute review'  system
  • No 'no show' reviews - If you didn't stay, how could you be in any sort of suitable position to offer an objective review of the property.
1
SWLinPHX

Well on most vacation rental sites (but not hotel sites) we have a chance to review the guest and their own reputation is at stake so I think that makes them a bit more mindful from being unreasonably critical.

But yeah, a common sense aggregate score would really help without some arbitrary overall number they can choose out of thin air that doesn't reflect what they scored us in the subcategories.

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Definitely!!  but booking.com doesn't have a 'guest' review system but we'd certainly love the idea of only being open to guests who treat the property with respect and care. 

One guest we had stay with us also had children who left unmentionables all along the bathroom wall and who knows how many other properties they've done that to. 

2
Philew

Hi to all, just had the worse review ever for the last 7 years running a B&B this has been from an elderly couple who were here for 1 night. We bent over backwards to keep them happy, but they  weren't truthful in their review and after sending a message to Booking.com to ask if the review could be removed as they could see that we get good reviews they declined ( very disappointing ).

2
Rodger MacKenz…

Hi Philew

We're sorry to hear that and we definitely feel your pain. It's an awful experience putting in your heart and soul into the business only for certain customers to fling it back in your face.

Keep up your solid work and hopefully, booking.com will listen to our concerns rather than continuing to ignore them.

Kind regards,

Rodger and Tilly

2
Derek Rule

If booking.com ever listen to any of the concerns of their grandly styled "partners" otherwise known as "cash cows" I will believe that pigs can fly.

2
Philew

Thanks Rodger and Tilly,I won't hold my breath on Booking.com listening to us, but live and hope that there is an improvement.

2
Philew

Just want to know if our response to guests reviews are visible when prospective bookers view the guests reviews prior to making a booking? They might not read our response if it's not immediately visible. Airbnb have a much better system which allows both hosts and guests to see reviews of both, giving a balanced view. Sometimes guests are not truthfull, and also prospective hosts need to be warned of troublesome guests, which we have experienced. Some guests need to be blocked from membership due to unacceptable behaviour, and this has been the case with us a couple of times. We've also picked up on Airbnb a warning regarding a guest's behaviour from other hosts through their system, so Hosts should honest about their reviews. It's all about protecting our business as well as our good guests.

2
Rodger MacKenz…

This is another of my massive gripes with booking.com review system is that our responses as property owners require approval from the BDC review team. A process which depending on your response, can take DAYS to be posted online.

The problems with this are obvious

  • It means critical, unfair and dishonest reviews can go without an appropriate challenge for weeks. All while being publically viewable on BDC. 
  • If I'm not breaking any of the guidelines, then why do I need approval to respond to a review on MY business? 
  • Booking.com doesn't seem to care about the partner experience with guests from their site, even if you have video/photographic evidence of guest misconduct which makes disputing the validity of reviews a pointless excercise. 

Very frustrating!

10
M Adamopoulou

Hello new partners and welcome to the Partner Community...

 

Please remember to edit your profile in Community....

It helps you and other partners to understand your problems better and hep one another...

BDC Support in Athens is excellent...I received my last review only a few hours my guests had left!!!

 

Wish everyone a nice weekend.

3
Fred

The "new" review system" is not serving anybody.

The overwhelming comments from hosts agrees with this fact. I still wait for a single factual data from bdc showing a Guest complaining about the previous system. Except a so-called Guests survey whose not a single data have been published.

1. (see screen shot)

I've been to a trip recently. When I received the rating request in the booking.com app, this is what was displayed on my iphone 7 plus.

How many Happy Guests would (NOT) click on the 3 dots to "unhide" the "10"?

How can bdc authorize such inadmissible development blunders to last more than 1 day, not to say a year?

edit : The 10 was not displayed even when I changed the display settings.

2.

Since the new review system has been introduced, roughly early 2020, our Guests average rating of the sub-categories is 1 point higher than the average global rating.

The narrative, that the inconsistencies cancel each each other on the long term, does not materialize. On the contrary.

3.

Our establishment has started in 2018, we have learnt from our early mistakes and our rating climbed to 9.2. But since the new review system we have many ratings lower than those in our early days. We stand now at 9.0 and the last string of ratings show that the trend is more and more downward. Pretty scary when your job partly depends on this! The only "good" news is that most of the fellows in our competitive set follow the same trend. The saddest thing is that that happened just before the covid and served only to compound the pain of the hotel industry.

7
Isle of Wight …

Thanks for pointing this out Fred, I'll book one of my own properties to see what the review system looks like on my phone .....

3
Fred

A question :

We don't have any private car parking. Guests know that before booking.

Still some Guests complained in a recent review and this obviously affected our overall rating.

What is BDC guideline in this case? Is "10" an absolute value, like as one expects from a 5 stars hotel? Or is it a fair assessment that expectations have met what was promised, no more and, certainly, no less?

Whatever was/is the review system, I have not seen any guideline that would look like an answer to this basic question. But, in my experience, the untold truth is that the overall rating is an absolute value when the smiley is a relative one.

As simple as that and not helped by the display issue I have reported earlier.

 

1
Noel O'Brien

If you have advertised that you don't have private car parking  they should not be able to complain and it should not affect your rating  ,   You are entitled to point this out in your reply,

10
M Adamopoulou

Noel, I agree with you but sometimes guests are unreasonable...

 

Even if review  negative a proper reply can make the difference...

3
Fred

I agree too, I do this all the time.

The point is that it's like putting a plaster on a wooden leg. The bad is done. The root cause is the ambiguity of the reviewing process in the absence of any guideline, a problem greatly inflated by the new reviewing system.