Abu Dhabi plans to link reviews to hotel ratings system

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Abu Dhabi will soon become the first city in the world to integrate social media ratings in its official hotel classification system, it has been reported.

According to Hotel News Now, the move by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority will monitor social media ratings of hotels and hold their operators accountable, in terms of stars, for bad reviews and negative feedback.

It said the initiative also will recognise properties that receive exemplary reviews with a 5-star-plus designation.

The updated ratings system will reportedly launch during the first quarter of 2014, beating Germany and Switzerland who have dabbled with social media as a ratings criterion, according to Omar Al Bishr, head of the organisation’s licensing and classification planning department.

“It will be the first system in the world to incorporate online guest ratings for the determination of hotel classifications,” he told Hotel News Now.

“We believe social media ratings give a clear indication on how satisfied travelers are with a hotel,” Al Bishr added.

As hotels in the emirate acclimate to being held accountable by social media, the classification programme initially will start by checking ratings against social media reviews before cracking down, he said.

Results will be done using a range of ratings including TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Hotels.com and Expedia, Al Bishr was quoted as saying.

Abu Dhabi tourism chiefs said last month that just short of two million hotel guests visited the UAE capital in the first nine months of this year.

Figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) show that last month, the destination received 226,002 hotel guests - a 19 percent rise on September last year, with guest nights achieved rising 26 percent to 714,577.

Hotel revenues in the first nine months jumped by 18 percent to AED3.7bn ($1bn) while revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 6 percent to AED285 ($114).

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