Online Reviews Guide Remodeling Choices

September 29, 2014

The commercial real estate market is finding that negative online reviews can serve as blueprints for remodeling projects. Hotels in particular are finding the gripes posted from travelers on review websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp are a way to guide their next round of renovations, The New York Times reports.

For example, Omni Hotels and Resorts executives say they used review sites to decide on installing more electrical outlets and upgrading bathrooms. New York's St. Regis hotel added a central master light switch in guest rooms after reading numerous complaints online about the number of lights and switches guests had to turn off. For the Loews Regency in New York, executives said they are renovating bathroom lighting after several complaints.

“Sometimes designers design our bathrooms to look good but not necessarily be totally functional,” says Paul Whetsell, president and chief executive of Loews Hotels. “Lighting is something that’s mentioned on social quite often.”

The sites are a welcome resource, especially as U.S. hotels are increasing their spending on renovations lately in an effort to edge out their competitors.

“It’s become a widely understood source of input for capital expenditures,” says Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. “Rates have gone up, so guests are expecting to see that reflected in the quality.”

Hotels work with technology providers, often using algorithmic software, to scan thousands of reviews to determine the biggest areas of customer gripes. The most common complaints often center around water pressure in the showers, slow Wi-Fi, uncomfortable beds, dated TVs, and location, according to The New York Times.

Source: “Hotels Use Online Reviews as Blueprint for Renovations,” The New York Times (Sept. 22, 2014)