Monitoring these growing peer review sites is a real challenge for many hoteliers, but "Feedback is a gift," says Del Ross, vice president of America's distribution marketing for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). With peer reviews on the rise, IHG is exploring an automated system to monitor these sites and is considering adding its own peer review section to the IHG website.

Some hoteliers are concerned that an unscrupulous competitor could sabotage their business by posting an erroneous, malicious review. To minimize this threat, some peer review sites, like Priceline, only allow travelers to write a review if they have booked on Priceline and stayed in that hotel. But My Travel Guide, which is also owned by Priceline, allows anyone to write a review with no validation of their stay.

Trip Advisor depends on the community to police their site. "After a review is posted we've got these eighteen million visitors who weigh in and they are very vocal if they see something that doesn't seem right," says Michele R. Perry, director, communications.

Some peer review sites are trying to differentiate themselves by segmenting reviewers into categories. For example, a recent TravelPost review was written by a 48 year old woman on a business trip with a moderate travel budget, who spent four nights in that hotel. In another review, Travelocity lists the reviewer's favorite vacation destination as "Europe" and states that the user rated this hotel as being good for families, honeymoon/romance, business, active/adventure, couples, and singles. Another reviewer on IgoUgo actually displayed her photo, her age range, her home town, the number of reviews she has written, her contact information, and a personal statement saying "I've traveled since the age of five weeks. My suitcases get restless if I don't have a trip in plan and a ticket at hand."

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