After a few quiet weeks, last week produced a number of stories that caught our attention and made it into our weekly Update, including two interesting stories on customer reviews. Enjoy.
Booking.com Adds Loyalty Program Benefits
(“Booking.com Adds a Third-Level of Benefits to Its Loyalty Program,” April 1, 2022 via Hospitality Net - Latest Industry News)
Booking.com announced last week that it was adding a new, third tier to its Genius loyalty program. Members qualifying for this new level will enjoy discounts of up to 20 percent (as compared to discounts of 10 percent and 15 percent for first tier and second tier members, respectively), free upgrades (at participating properties), free breakfast (also at participating properties) and priority customer support (with live service agents). With this latest announcement, suppliers should again expect a big push by Booking.com to grow the number of properties in its loyalty program. Market managers will be busier than ever in trying to convince individual properties to offer deeply discounted “Genius” rates.
The latest skirmish between businesses and negative on-line reviewers resulted in a win for TripAdvisor. On December 30, 2014 an Oregon trial court ruled that Oregon’s Shield Law protects TripAdvisor from having to disclose the true identity of a poster on its on-line reviewing service. The Ashley Inn, from Lincoln City, sued TripAdvisor reviewer, “12Kelly,” who posted several scathing reviews about the Inn. The Ashley Inn sought to compel the identity of “12Kelly.” A Multnomah County circuit judge refused to do so by applying Oregon’s Media Shield Law, ORS 44.520. That statute protects a reporter from having to disclose the source for information used to prepare a news report. The court found that the Shield Law protected TripAdvisor because it is a “medium of communication.” Hence, TripAdvisor did not have to disclose the identity of its “source” - “12Kelly.”
The hospitality industry regularly faces tremendous challenges, ranging from unexpected tornadoes to salmonella lurking in organic eggs requested by guests. However, negative reviews on TripAdvisor.com or similar sites pose particularly perplexing challenges. Should the business respond or ignore them? Our newest post discusses the latest legal developments regarding negative on-line reviews. – Greg
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.