Is your independent hotel’s online content too modest or does it stretch the truth? – Part 1

Most travelers would agree that booking independent hotel rooms online makes the reservation process easy and efficient.  With just a few clicks, they can view photos, read reviews, compare rates and then book a room.  While advanced technology makes online booking possible, one of the intangible reasons why it’s so successful is that consumers trust the information posted online.  When they click “Book Now,” they’re confident that their in-person experience will match what they viewed online.

Though this seems like a fair tradeoff between consumers and hoteliers, there are many online reviews detailing the differences, both positive and negative, between some hotels’ online descriptions and their on-property experience.  Seeing these reactions made us think about why some independent hotels may decide to purposely understate or embellish the reality of their on-property experience. We worked through some of the pros and cons of each approach, so here’s a little food for thought for independent hoteliers:

Pro: Understating online content allows independent hotels to under promise, over deliver.

Within the lodging industry, independent hotels are special because there aren’t cookie cutter guidelines they must follow in regards to their operations.  It’s this flexibility that allows some independents to take an “under promise, over deliver” approach with their online content.  For example, by posting basic photos of guest rooms versus highly edited, “glamour” images, guests will not arrive expecting their room to look photo shoot-ready.  The thought here is that by not setting expectations too high, the hotel will be able to consistently deliver a satisfactory experience and not risk disappointing guests.

Con: Modesty leads to missed booking opportunities.

By playing it safe, independent hotels don’t have to worry about being accused of “bait and switch” or other questionable online booking tactics.  However, this modest approach can backfire and cause guests to overlook them during the booking process.  Travelers comb through hundreds of listings in search of a property that fits their needs, so independent hotels generally have one opportunity to grab their attention before they scroll to the next option.  While not over promising helps avoid receiving negative online reviews, it can cost independent hotels valuable bookings and revenue.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Is your independent hotel’s online content too modest or does it stretch the truth?” by subscribing to the innRoad blog and following us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.