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Bed and Breakfast Inns Reviews

As avid enthusiasts of Bed and Breakfasts and Inns, we have researched customer reviews of bed and breakfasts for our personal travel plans.

However, in the last five years we have noted an increase in two types of reviews:  those that appear to offer overly glowing recommendations and those that appear to be overly judgemental and critical.  Our interviews with bed and breakfast owners have confirmed our concern that a significant number of reviews may not be legitimate.  This concern is also a frequent subject of discussion on Innkeeper chat boards. 

Because we believe customer reviews are open to manipulation, and increasingly being used in unethical manner, we have chosen NOT to provide an avenue for customer reviews on Romantic Getaways site.  We will, however, monitor customer reviews posted to other websites regarding our member properties.  At our discretion, we will investigate consistent patterns of negative reviews which may seem to indicate quality issues which need to be addressed.

For specific examples of Innkeeper's concerns, and evidence that this is a valid concern, please see the following excerpts from posts on Innspiring.com.

An email received from PAII which was posted by an Innkeeper:
"The widespread use of online guest reviews is a fairly recent phenomenon, and many innkeepers feel at the mercy of exceptional situations, rather than what systems seem to be designed for - honest feedback from guests.  The systems most widely used by B&B guests try to prevent fraud and unethical behavior, but they are not fail-safe," said Jay Karen, PAII's President and Chief Executive Officer.  Karen said most of the problems he hears about from innkeepers involve mean-spirited, false and misleading reviews posted by guests, and the occasional difficulties experienced by innkeepers when pursing an expedient method of addressing problems.  In a few cases, innkeepers have discovered false reviews posted by their competitors.  "There have been media reports and assumptions that owners and managers of smaller independent properties, like bed and breakfasts, are somehow more prone to circumventing the rules of these sites.  While this is not true, we want to set the record straight regarding the ethical standards this industry supports, and this statement articulates our position." 

PAII's position statement addresses the appropriate decorum which innkeepers should follow.  In addition, the statement covers what the association's board feels is "fair play" for the sites that offer opportunities for guests to leave reviews.  "False negative reviews on these sites can definitely color a potential guest's likelihood of making a reservation, and we want to encourage administrators of these sites to rapidly address grievances and reports of fraudulent activity," says Karen.  "Lost business is a very serious matter, especially if you're an innkeeper with only 5 rooms in your inventory."  Karen reports that the systems are generally working well for innkeepers, but that singular incidents of indiscretion seem to disproportionately impact innkeepers, who have reported grievances to the PAII office. "The leaders in the business of online reviews are TripAdvisor, which promotes its services to the general traveling public, and BedandBreakfast.com, which specializes in our industry.  Innkeepers and guests should avail themselves to all reputable sources, but sites that demonstrate a deep understanding of the B&B marketplace are going to be most helpful when travelers are looking for the special experience offered by a stay at an inn or bed and breakfast."

"While there have definitely been transgressions in any industry that has online user reviews, we believe the rules established by these web sites are only one piece of the puzzle," says Debrah Mosimann, PAII's board chair and owner of Swiss Woods Inn in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  "It's important for an industry's representative group to establish its own benchmark of appropriate conduct.  In many ways, these web sites are doing a great service for our industry by bringing to light matters that innkeepers need to address at their own properties, and yet also giving exposure to hidden gems in our industry that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.  Some days it seems like the Wild West out there with user reviews, and we hope to provide a little bit of guidance to the stakeholders in our industry - the user review sites and the several thousand innkeepers who deliver the experiences being revealed for the public to see."

The following are comments on Innspiring.com, which express Innkeepers concerns about customer reviews on travel websites:

"We had an innkeeper offering $25 discounts for future stays for any guest who posted a review on Trip Advisor."

"....unreasonable guests posting bad reviews and a few innkeeper competitors posting fake reviews, as well as owners posting their own reviews."

"We have one infamous competitor in our town who does make his many bad ones disappear. The other B & B owners suspect he offers a full refund to the reviewers to have them take their own review down. It's very consistent that his horrific reviews are not up for long. A shame too, since folks need to be warned!"

"I do think that there are places that must do something to encourage a lot of positive reviews from their guests (or friends) especially after a less than stellar review.  A place where I stayed almost 2 years ago now seems to do this.  I actually had another TA member email me thru TA about my review because she was aghast at the fabulous reviews that appeared after her review and pointed me to the same thing happening after mine.  (This was the place with cobwebs, dirty coffeemaker, and braless shoeless innkeeper at check-in time.)   This place also has easily 3 times the reviews of other places in that city.  So, that is something to keep an eye on when you're looking at online reviews too."