Marriott customers will soon be able to submit their own reviews of the Marriott-brand hotels—both good and bad—on the company's own Web site. It’s the room-service equivalent of customer reviews: Why let your customers go elsewhere, when you can serve them yourself?
Travelers will be able to review about 280 properties in 11 of Marriott's top markets, according to USA Today. Marriott will run the reviews on a separate site called Marriott Rewards Insiders, which currently has 25,000 members with profiles. The hotel will also confirm whether a review writer actually stayed in the hotel before publishing the review.
When asked by USA Today on Nov. 4 whether negative reviews on its own site could harm the brand, Marriott SVP Ed French said the reviews are out there anyway on the Web on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. "We want people to be more engaged," he said. "And this is what people want to do.”
French said that allowing people to air their opinions will help create a more active fan base—something that hotels consider valuable in today's increasingly social-media driven world. This willingness to lay bare its customers' criticism is Marriott's bid for true authenticity, a brave and worthy model for its competitors, and for companies beyond the scope of the hospitality sector.