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Hotels worried about online reviews

I've heard hotels (and other suppliers of all stripes) grumbling about online review sites like TripAdvisor since they first came on the scene -- who wants all those cranky customers who wouldn't be happy no matter what you do spewing nastiness about you into cyberspace? I've always held that, though you'll likely have a few cranks and miscreants and trolls, most reviewers will be honest, and those who read several reviews will get a fairly accurate picture of what to expect. I personally have had great luck using Yelp for restaurant suggestions in strange cities, for example.

But it sounds like things might heat up again, at least if this organization gets its way (from the New York Times article):

“'The world of the Internet and particularly social media has pretty much outstripped ethical guidelines, and some legal ones as well,' said Chris Emmins, a founder of KwikChex, a British reputation management company that is seeking to organize a lawsuit against TripAdvisor on behalf of its clients.

"Mr. Emmins said more than 800 businesses had inquired about participating in the case, but he expected only a few dozen would meet the criteria the company hoped to test, including the legality of reviews that accuse hotel staff of theft, assault or discrimination.

“'I don’t think they belong on a review site,' he said. 'They’re allegations of criminality.'”

He may have a point there. What do you think about the usefulness of online review sites? And how would you feel about putting your meeting evaluations online and in public, for all the world to view?

Update: Just found this interview with TripAdvisor co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer on his perspective on the whole thing. Not surprisingly, he thinks the system works pretty well as is.

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