Two of China's biggest Internet travel service providers are using enhanced systems for their respective users to comment on hotels booked through them, and they are rating the hotels based on these comments.
Chinese online travel service provider Ctrip.com (CTRP) has formally launched a new hotel appraisal system with the purpose of offering tourists an objective view of a hotel and facilitating their selection of hotels when booking. And Chinese rival eLong.com (LONG) has launched a hotel comment channel on its website to help consumers book hotels.
ELong's hotel comment channel features a hotel recommendation index, which is based on users' votes on the hotel and serves as a reference for new consumers to book a hotel. Considering that such details as hotel service and location are also important factors affecting consumers' choices, eLong tries to make its comment channel complete, transparent and comprehensive. It asks users to comment on nearly all the aspects of a hotel, including sanitation, environment, service, location, comfort and performance-price ratio by scoring the hotels.
In addition, eLong.com asks users to give a brief description of the hotel when making a comment, which aims to enable new users to know about the hotel's feature and basic information within the shortest period of time, hence help them save time in hotel booking.
Users who have booked a hotel via Ctrip.com and checked into the hotel are eligible to join in the appraisal by writing down their comments of the hotel. Based on users' appraisal, Ctrip.com will make a comment on each of the hotels by marking them with heart-shaped signs. The more hearts a hotel has, the better the hotel is ranked. By looking at the number of hearts, other users who have not used the hotel's service will get a better understanding of the hotel when they book online.
Ctrip.com launched the appraisal service in July 2000. By the end of 2008, it received more than 20,000 comments on hotels each month and this had made it the largest hotel user-generated comment website in China. The new, enhanced hotel appraisal system is also part of Ctrip.com's Service 2.0 concept, which aims to provide interaction, tools and experience to users booking hotels. Ctrip.com plans to select the top 20 hotels by the number of hearts a hotel wins instead of using its star rating.
Interestingly, last week Ctrip.com announced that it had won an infringement lawsuit against a small Beijing-based Internet travel search engine called Qunar.com. Haidian People's Court of Beijing found Qunar.com guilty of copying commented articles from Ctrip.com onto Qunar.com, and ordered Qunar.com to stop its infringement activities within ten days, pay relevant notarization fees of CNY1,000 to Ctrip.com and make an apology lasting for 24 hours on the front page of its website.