Stay Curious!

Is soliciting a review commercial or transactional?

I’ve booked rooms through hotels.com a few times, and they always send me followup emails asking me to rate the stay and so forth. In my view this is commercial/marketing email, not transactional, and I should be able to opt out of it. I don’t want to get the emails and I don’t want to rate the hotels, in part because I don’t believe in the validity of such ratings/reviews (reference, reference). But there’s no unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, and there’s no setting in their website to opt out of it.

So I sent them a request:

Why can’t I opt out of your leave-a-review emails after staying at a hotel? I am sure this is a gray area, but in my mind it’s a marketing email, not a transactional email, because it’s not required for you to fulfill an order or similar. Please include an unsubscribe link in these emails and please include a setting in the account preferences as well.

Their response:

Thank you for contacting Hotels.com Customer Support regarding your request to unsubscribed from the leave-a-review emails after a completed stay. We are sorry to hear about the inconvenience. We regret to inform you that we were unable to unsubscribe your email address from guest reviews emails. Please be advised that we are requesting for reviews for us to have a useful source of feedback for a property to gauge performance in key areas such as service, cleanliness, and overall guest satisfaction. We appreciate your business and we look forward to assisting you in the future. Arlene T. Hotels.com Customer Support Specialist

I think Hotels.com needs to take an objective look at what they’re doing. What’s the real outcome of their policy? I believe they’re working at odds with their stated intentions:

  • I’m pretty sure one could quickly find lots of studies and statistics to show that the reviews they receive will be badly skewed towards the negative – probably so skewed that any statistician would reject them out of hand.
  • If people don’t want to leave reviews, they won’t leave reviews, period. No matter how many emails you send them. I can delete the email; I’m not forced to act on it.
  • I resent having to delete an email I don’t want to get, and emails like this should be optional. It isn’t as if allowing an opt-out would decrease the chance of getting feedback. People who like to leave reviews will not opt-out. Anyone who opts out isn’t going to leave feedback anyway.
  • They’re pissing off at least some customers (okay, at least one). Curmudgeonly people like myself are in fact likely to stop using Hotels.com altogether, thus reducing the possible audience from which to get feedback.

I really think this topic is common sense, but if common sense is in short supply, perhaps some valuable lessons about how to run a business and how to provide customer support can be gleaned upon deep inspection. I won’t even rant about the fake apology and fake appreciation of my business.

I’m going to reply to them and send the URL of this blog post.

Posted on Mon, Oct 21, 2013. Approximately 600 Words.

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