Lead Program Guidelines Enforcement

Please note that beginning September 1st, in order for a lead to be eligible for the HTR Money Back Guarantee--your company must abide follow HTR's Lead Program Guidelines to ensure that all leads are followed up with in a timely fashion and in accordance with defined best practices:

Migration From Add-Ons 👉 Product Suites & Modules

UPDATE: This change went live on May 6, 2022 Learn more

Historically the way HTR has been structured is that in order to become discoverable in a category and generate leads, you needed to have a product listing/dedicated profile in that category

If the product could be purchased as a standalone product then you would list is as such, and if it was a module/add-on for another core product--then you would list it as an add-on profile.

The problem with this is that in many cases it doesn't make sense to have to create (and manage) an entirely new profile for add-ons since in reality, many times these are just modules with premium capabilities and functionality of another core product suite.

That's why as of next month, HTR will be transitioning from add-ons -> Modules, here's how it works...

If you currently have add-on profiles your reviews will be migrated to the core product and your modules will be created automatically so there is nothing that you need to do, it will all be handled for you.

Added Visibility for Premium Members

The new sub-category pages signal a shift in perspective where there is no longer an emphasis on a 'one size fits all' approach.

Instead the UX of the site is built around buyer persona segmentation and filtering tools to help buyers find the best fit for them based on their property/ies characteristics including: hotel size, property type, location and even PMS.

By putting the power in the hands of users to find their perfect fit based on data in the platform with similar property characteristics to theirs, there is no longer an attempt to make a one size fits all recommendations and as such--the default sort is no longer entirely rankings based (until a user applies their property attribute filters) and now serves as a way for Premium Members to gain added visibility on the site.

The default sort gives all members (any plan/tier) preferred placement and boosted visibility via the default sort and then sorts by HT Score.  

These new placements in the default sort are just one more way, beyond the already existing boosted visibility placements, to give members even more visibility and benefits to drive more leads.

Members will also now receive preferred priority visibility via collections product tiles in organic content produced by HTR (or guest posts submitted by our contributor network) that relate to your category or categories to drive you even more visibility in high intent content to make sure that your brand and products surface as many times as possible throughout the buying journey for your related topics and categories on the site.  View example contributor post with related member inclusion.


Special Thank You to Premium Members

By supporting the HTR platform as members you share in our vision and enable us to continue to develop educational content, tools and campaigns that strive towards our mission of empowering hoteliers to leverage their greatest asset, technology.  Together we help raise awareness that great technology is essential to staying competitive and running a modern hospitality business.  

While we are a community and an industry organization of sorts, we are also a marketing platform and place strong emphasis on performance and value for our members which is why membership is priced to ensure that if our members get even just a single lead each year that they wouldn't have otherwise, it will not only justify their investment but it will guarantee a positive ROI with additional leads, awareness and benefits all generating exponential ROI making sure that HTR is your marketing team's best investment.

With this change, users still have the opportunity to sort and filter by key attributes including the HT Score--but this default sort aims to add even more value and visibility for members at no additional cost to generate an even stronger ROI out of your membership.

New Sub-Categories Pages

As of this week we're rolling out redesigned sub-category pages.  These pages will serve as hubs for relevant content about each sub-category with new filters to help users move beyond a single top solution recommendation and instead help users identify the solution that is right for them.


Key changes: 

  1. 🎯 Segment based recommendations & buyer personas
  2. ⚙️ New data filters to give users the power to find the right fit
  3. 📖 Unified content hub of helpful resources


🎯 Segment Based Recommendations & Buyer Personas

There is no best overall vendor in any given category nor has there ever been just as there is no single best hotel asset.  But to make comparisons amongst hotels asset managers and buyers use metrics like REVPAR and similarly HTR uses the HT Score.  

The reason for this is that popularity is not a strong indicator of fit (or it would just be a bigger is better competition).  Having said that, popularity does tend to be a strong indicator of fit when applying segmentation (ie. most popular for resorts, most popular in Europe, etc).  For example, an mobile ordering solution that is recommended by lots of resorts is more likely to be a good fit for a resort looking for mobile ordering than a vendor who is not recommended by other resorts.

For this reason we have created the new buyer personas that outline hotel types that tend to have unique attributes which lead them to make similar tech purchasing decisions.

At a glance users can now quickly see that there is no one size fits all solution but rather there are different tools that serve different types of properties with unique need.  


⚙️ New data filters to give users the power to find the right fit

The new data filters enable HTR to move beyond a single overall ranking and instead allow users to quickly refine the rankings based on their own criteria including hotel size, city, region, hotel type or even PMS.


📖 Unified Content Hub of Helpful Resources

The new category pages are jam packed with helpful resources for buyers giving them tons of free tools, resources and content all related to the category they are researching including: 

  • Recommended articles
  • Free report downloads
  • Category buyers guide
  • In-depth deep dive (overview, benefits, features, pricing, implementation and FAQs)
  • Related categories

Poseidon Algorithm Final Stage

Per the October '21 announcement, the Share of Voice variable went live in vendor dashboards but was not to impact scoring until after the 2022 HotelTechAwards winners were announced to ensure that (a) scoring didn't change during the competition and (b) all vendors had several months to prepare for the update to pre-empt any potential negative impact to rankings.  

Later this month the Share of Voice variable will be given weight in the algorithm along with increased weight for review consistency which will therefore begin impacting rankings.  

To check your Share of Voice or Review Consistency head to the Reputation Report Card.

Want to learn more about the update? Learn more

🤝 A New Way to Cross Promote Your Top Partners

Loving partner recommendations and showing love to your top partners on HTR?

Ever wish there was a way for your top partners to promote you to their customers and vice versa?

Well...now you can! Introducing the all new Favorite Partners Feature.

How it Works

  1. Step 1: Favorite up to 5 of your top integration partners
  2. Step 2: Upload a quick pitch about why you recommend their product and specifically why its a great fit for users of your product
  3. Step 3: They'll get notified when you favorite them and you'll get notified if they favorite you back
  4. Step 4: 24-hours after one of the partners who have favorited you leaves a review, a notification will go out recommending you as a popular product that is recommended for their company's users


Two Important Things to Keep in Mind

  • Default favorites.  Until you customize your favorites for each of your products, by default favorites will be generated based on your verified integration partners.
  • Favorites by product.  Each one of your products has its own favorites so make sure to customize relevant favorites for each product
  • Multi-product reviews.  If a user leaves a review about multiple of your products, the favorites email logic will select only one of those products to send the favorites email about (so the user doesn't receive multiple duplicative emails)

Review Incentive Policy Community Memo & Updates

UPDATE (3/15/21): Please note that after surveying the community for feedback, pay-per-review will continue not to be permitted on HTR (details below)

TL;DR

  • Several pay-per-review incident reports.  We have become aware of several vendors have been offering pay-per-review without knowing that this is against HTR’s incentive guidelines
  • This is against HTR’s guidelines and the rules of the awards.  While this is a level I infraction (least severe), it is still against HTR’s policies and therefore not permitted, in violation of the rules of the 2022 HotelTechAwards
  • Penalties for current HotelTechAwards competition. Vendors caught in breach of this policy will have the reviews from the trailing 30-days be unpublished and will not be counted towards the HotelTechAwards competition as it is against the rules
  • Several vendors have claimed not to be aware of this aspect of the incentive policy.  Several vendors have pointed out that the confusion lies in the fact that other review sites do permit this type of pay-per-review incentive
  • Implications for incentives on the community.  While these reviews are against the rules of the awards competition and HTR’s incentive guidelines, HTR will amend its policy effective January 15, 2021 to permit pay-per-review with fair disclosure in accordance with FTC guidelines.  Incentivized reviews will be clearly designated in the UI and ratings will not factor into overall averages.

HTR Vendor Community,

It has come to our attention that a handful of vendors were unaware of HTR’s policy not to allow direct incentive reviews on Hotel Tech Report so we wanted to reach out to all vendors and clarify HTR’s policies about incentivized reviews to make sure there is no confusion.

Overview of Current Policies & Perspectives on Incentivized Reviews

Since inception, HTR’s policies around incentivized reviews have remained the same which can be found in more detail via the help center.  In summary, HTR’s perspective and stance on incentivized reviews to date has been: 

  1. Reviewing B2B software is not the same as consumer goods.  When a guest is reviewing their hotel on TripAdvisor for example there are intrinsic motivations like scrap booking to catalogue their journeys, building online clout/credibility or sharing an experience with friends.  Reviewing B2B software is quite different in nature and carries lower intrinsic motivation which is why incentives are a helpful tool to gather more feedback and foster knowledge sharing.  Incentivizing a review of B2B software is similar to paying for a survey completion - compensating for a busy individual’s professional time without biasing the content of feedback.
  2. Incentives as a way to thank customers are encouraged.  Incentives are common in the B2B review space.  Companies are asking their users to take time out of a busy work day to help with their sales and marketing by advocating for their product. As such, offering an incentive is not only acceptable but we actually encourage it.  So much so that we even subsidize incentives for Premium Members and have an incentive matching program for basic members
  3. Outreach may never be phrased in a way that introduces bias.  While incentives are encouraged, there are obviously guidelines to follow to ensure that the way the incentive is phrased to the user does not introduce bias into their review.  Specifically, to date HTR has outlined several permitted and not permitted scenarios which vary in level of severity and of which examples can be found below:


Scenario

Explicit bias

Implicit bias

Policy

Infraction Level

1) Randomized giveaway

No

No

✅  Allowed

None

2) Limited giveaway

No

No

✅  Allowed

None

3) Pay-per-review

No

Yes

❌  Not allowed

Level I

4) Pay-per-POSITIVE review

Yes

Yes

❌  Not allowed

Level II


Vendor Infractions & Penalties for Pay-Per-Review

There have been three separate occurrences of vendors in the community being reported for pay-per-review (scenario 3) which is a level 1 infraction but none-the-less, an infraction and against the rules of the HotelTechAwards.  Since the inception of the annual HotelTechAwards four years ago, the rules have explicitly stated that direct pay-per-review is not permitted.  The reported incidents were Level I infractions (scenario 3) and were not found to introduce explicit bias.  Given that there have been several occurrences all claiming that the nuances of the permitted incentives were not clear--vendors identified will not be immediately disqualified from the competition however they will incur the following penalties:

  1. Vendor will have 72-hours to respond to the violation report and show that they have corrected their outreach messaging with screenshot evidence
  2. Reviews collected within 30-days of the correction will be unpublished and will not count towards the annual HotelTechAwards competition.
  3. Vendors who have been reported for breaching this guideline will be marked under close watch for up to 90-days where their account will be monitored closely and reviews will appear in a separate moderation queue where moderators will keep a closer eye on activity.
  4. Vendors in breach will only be permitted to collect reviews via the Review Manager in the dashboard for 45-days where HTR can more closely monitor their activity and outreach strategy
  5. Vendors will receive a strike meaning that any future incidents will incur more severe immediate level II penalties without option to cure


Future Amendments to HTR’s Incentive Policies

UPDATE (3/15/22) After surveying the community (both hoteliers and vendors) we have concluded that HTR will not be changing review guidelines and will continue not to permit pay-per-review.  While this is allowed on some review websites with disclosure, ultimately as a verticalized portal for the hotel industry the rankings and ratings are more critical to maintain accuracy and more importantly elimination of bias to ensure a fair platform that upholds the highest standards of integrity.  Additionally, pay-per-review not only skews/biases consumer ratings, but it also gives larger companies with more resources an unfair advantage.  As a result of these findings and feedback from the community, pay-per-review will continue not to be permitted on HTR under any circumstances as it always has been historically.

Vendors have shared 3 main reasons for the confusion around review compensation rules on the site: (a) HTR allows indirect incentives/giveaways (b) pay-per-review is permitted by other review websites and (c) pay-per-review is common in the B2B reviews space.  

Despite these points, HTR’s current (and historical) policies don’t permit pay-per-review (only randomized giveaways).  After discussing with hoteliers and vendors, we have found the consensus belief that pay-per-review should be permitted if certain conditions are met to disclose incentives to website visitors and hotel tech buyers.

The general governing body for online reviews and issues around consumer affairs is the FTC, which states the following:

  • “Knowing that reviewers got the product they reviewed for free would probably affect the weight your customers give to the reviews”
  • “reviewers given free products might give the products higher ratings on a scale like the number of stars than reviewers who bought the products.”
  • “If you've given these customers a reason to expect a benefit from providing their thoughts about your product, you should disclose that fact in your ads.”
  • “If you’re offering them something of value in return for these reviews, tell them in advance that they should disclose what they received from you.”

In light of community feedback and FTC guidelines, HTR will amend our policies after the current year awards competition to allow for direct incentives when there is fair disclosure (effective January 15th, 2022).  Disclosures will be incorporated into the hotel tech buyer user experience on the Hotel Tech Report platform.  So how will this work?

  • The write a review form will include a field for hoteliers to indicate whether direct compensation has been offered for their product feedback
  • Vendors will have a toggle in their dashboard indicating when they are running a pay per review campaign (on or off platform)
  • Vendors found to be running direct incentive campaigns without using the toggle will have all reviews within 6-months of the incident report immediately marked as ‘incentivized’
  • Directly incentivized reviews will NOT count towards the quantitative ratings averages.  Their volumes will count towards the average review thresholds and geographic targets, however, ratings like customer support, ease of use, etc. will not be included in overall ratings in order to ensure “apples to apples” comparisons amongst all vendors for buyers without the possibility of potential bias

Conclusion

Ultimately, incentives are a positive and encouraged mechanism to thank customers for their time, effort and expertise but all endorsements must reflect the honest opinions or experiences of the endorser (Source: FTC Endorsement Guides).  

Therefore while HTR may (or may not) in the future expand its incentive guidelines to permit direct incentive reviews, these reviews would need to carry a clear designation to consumers about the nature of the incentive.  Additionally, companies who have been in breach of this rule to date will receive penalties commensurate with their breach to ensure that (a) the behavior is immediately corrected and (b) reviews collected in this manner will not be counted towards the 2022 HotelTechAwards competition.

Country Code Remapping Patch

HTR recently became aware of an edge case related to the mapping of country codes to regions that was introduced along with the deployment of the Poseidon Algorithm update that we are working on a patch for that will be deployed in the next couple of days (expected go live week of 11/22).

  • Impact: Minor.  Impacted only select countries and select reviews.  Some companies may have experienced slightly deflated region and country bonuses if they had reviews from select countries that had mapping issues when the user selected their location via the Google Places API.
  • Issue: Edge case identified where certain country codes were not mapped properly to their region and/or country as it pertains to the calculation in the HT Score algorithm related to global reach bonuses.



What happened?

HTR typically pulls country data from the popular Google Places API (excluding mainland China reviews); however, a select group of countries and regions were found to be “unmatched” in the lookup function causing some vendors to experience artificially deflated country counts in their HTScore indexes.

Which countries were identified to have potential mapping issues?

Below is a list of countries that had anomalous entries in the database and were updated in the lookup function.  One such example is that 517 reviews in the database were classified as originating in ‘Czechia’ while the HTScore algorithm lookup function was searching for the term “Czech Republic” as defined by the Google Places API.

Please note that only a fraction of cases were impacted by these mapping issues in these countries so just because a country is listed does not mean all reviews from that country were not mapped correctly.

List of impacted regions:

  • 'Virgin Islands
  •  'United States of America'
  •  'United Kingdom'
  •  'Turks and Caicos Islands'
  •  'Tanzania'
  •  'Spain'
  •  'Seychelles'
  •  'Saint Martin (French part)'
  •  'Saint Barthélemy'
  •  'Russian Federation'
  •  'Poland'
  •  'Norway'
  •  'Netherlands'
  •  'Netherlands Antilles'
  •  'Myanmar'
  •  'Morocco'
  •  'Maldives'
  •  'Macedonia'
  •  'Luxembourg'
  •  'Korea
  •  'Italy'
  •  'Ireland'
  •  'Greece'
  •  'Germany'
  •  'Gambia'
  •  'France'
  •  'Finland'
  •  'Czech Republic'
  •  'Congo (Kinshasa)'
  •  'China'
  •  'Belgium'
  •  'Bahamas'
  •  'Australia'
  •  'Austria'
  •  'Switzerland'
  •  'Brunei Darussalam'
  •  'Hungary'
  •  'United Arab Emirates'
  •  'Estonia'
  •  'Fiji'
  •  'Indonesia'
  •  'Sweden'
  •  'Cyprus'

Who was impacted and what was the impact?

Most vendors will not notice any difference in their scores or the scores of other products in their categories.  That said, vendors with reviews from the following countries MAY have been impacted; however, not necessarily as these were anomalies and in many cases the review countries were properly classified.  Impacted vendors may have experienced an increase in countries and regions served which would in many cases increase HTScores from understated scores previously visible on the platform.  These changes are extremely rare and likely unnoticeable but some vendors may notice a several point increase in scores as the algorithm begins detecting their accurate country and region counts once the mapping patch goes live.

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