Feb 24, 2014
Abu Dhabi may soon become the first tourism authority to integrate social media ratings into its official hotel classification system, as the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) works to stress the importance of social media to the UAE capital’s hotels.
TCA Abu Dhabi, which has been working on a new set of hotel classification guidelines since the authority’s rebranding from the old Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) in February 2013, is considering monitoring hotel social media ratings and using them to hold operators accountable for bad reviews and negative feedback.
It has also revealed plans to introduce a new category for the emirate’s hotels, specifically for hotels and resorts which are deemed to be outside the normal five-star criteria.
When approached by Hotelier Middle East, a TCA Abu Dhabi spokesperson said: “TCA Abu Dhabi is currently revising its accommodation classification system and an upgraded version will be launched early in the New Year and social media use may form part of the criteria for some categories.
“As an authority we are fully behind the use of social media in promoting a destination and we are also in the process of compiling a guide to social media promotion for use by our stakeholders,” they added.
This potential move by TCA Abu Dhabi follows in the footsteps of the Organisation of German Hotels and Restaurants (DEHOGA) and Hotelleriesuisse, the Swiss hotel industry parent organisation, who have both used social media analysis to influence hotel star classification.
However, TCA Abu Dhabi would become the first tourism authority to adopt the same system and integrate social media reviews into an official classification system.
Social Strikes Back
The rising importance o
f social media and guests reviews in the Middle East hospitality industry has been mirrored by the increasing prominence of user generated reviews on social media sites Facebook and Google.
One recent change was the Facebook’s decision to move its user review and rating system for public places, businesses, and organizations so that it is visible just below each page title.
When approached by Hotelier for comment, a spokesperson from Facebook said: “Currently people can sort by star ratings when they are using the ‘nearby’ feature on a mobile. For example, if they are looking for restaurants close to their location they have the option to arrange by star rating.
“Currently page administrators can manage their pages and deal with spam comments by removing them and banning the posters. In the case of genuine negative reviews, we would advise companies to seek to address their customers’ complaints,” they added.