Social media posts help push hotels to upgrade

If you posted a negative social media review about a hotel last year, you may have helped push U.S. hotels owners to invest a record $6.4 billion to upgrade and beautify their properties.

Complaints – and compliments – on Yelp, Twitter, TripAdvisor and other online review sites motivated hotel owners to invest in carpeting, high-speed Internet and remodeled lobbies, among other hotel improvements, according to a
report by Bjorn Hanson, a professor at the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University.

The capital expenditures in 2014 represent a 7% increase from the previous year, according to Hanson's annual study, which is based on industry data and interviews with hotel and construction executives.

Over the last few years, a big chunk of the investments made to existing hotels have come in response to demands from brand owners such as Marriott, Hilton and Best Western to meet standards that they allowed to lapse during the economic recession, Hanson said.

Among the improvements now demanded by major hotel brands have been new walk-in showers, bigger fitness facilities and overhauled lobbies to appeal to millennials, who like to work and mingle in large public spaces.

For the last three years or so, more hotels have made investments in response to negative online reviews, Hanson said.

"It might be a review that says 'I've always liked this hotel but it's getting really tired,' " he said.

Hanson added that some executives have told him they also have made capital investments in response to glowing online reviews — about their competitors.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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