The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 25th July 2011

Google removes snippets of customer reviews from sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor from Google Places and Maps. The move, announced in Google’s official blog at the end of last week, follows the disclosure of an U.S. anti-trust investigation last month. The federal investigation is looking into whether Google abuses its market power by favouring its own services over those of competitors. Now, a user looking at a hotel listing will get all the existing content (photos, address, website link, prices) but the number of reviews has been stripped down dramatically. This comes at a time when the Sunday Times announces an investigation of TripAdvisor reviews after both hoteliers and freelance writers advertised for fake hotel reviews on freelance writing websites such as i-freelancer.org.
Tuesday, 26th July 2011
Hilton Hotels & Resorts launches “Stay Hilton, Go Everywhere” – the group’s first iAd campaign. iAd is Apple’s mobile advertising network which reaches millions of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users through applications. With this campaign, Hilton aims to showcase virtual vacations at nine Hilton properties around the world. It features Twitter and email integration, photography and downloadable wallpapers.
Wednesday, 27th July 2011
Facebook debuts a step-by-step online guide aimed at helping small businesses to use the social networking website. The ‘online education center’ gives directions on how to set up a profile page, create targeted ads and deals and interact with customer feedback online. Interestingly, this comes just a week after Google began shutting off all company profiles on its Google+ social network. Access the guide at: facebook.com/business
Thursday, 28th July 2011
Researchers at Cornell University in the U.S. have developed software which can identify fake hotel reviews by analysing its linguistic structure, they claim. The technology tested 800 reviews of hotels in Chicago and was able to pick out ‘deceptive reviews’ with almost 90% accuracy. Apparently, the software analyses sentiment, word structure and grammar. While true reviews use more concrete words like ‘bathroom’, ‘check-in’ etc. fake reviews are more about setting the scene, they say. Moreover, it would appear that deceivers use more verbs while truth-tellers use more nouns. Cornell students see the technology being applied in the travel industry perhaps as a ‘first round filter’, allowing sites to score potentially false reviews which require further investigation.
Friday, 29th July 2011
Google launches Hotel Finder for hotels in the U.S. which is a search tool designed specifically to make it easier to find and compare hotels. Click on the screenshot to enlarge:
The main features include: drawing simple shapes to define the destination areas of interest, seeing popular locations on maps, adding a hotel to a shortlist with just one click, where they can be reviewed easily later on. In addition, users can see if they will get a good deal by comparing a hotel’s current price with the typical one.
The filter on the left-hand side offers various options such as: location filters, arrival and departure dates, price point filters as well as hotel ratings & user rating filters.

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