For some time there have been warning signs that VisitScotland (the body formerly known as the Scottish Tourist Board and charged with promoting tourism in Scotland and grading accommodation) is losing its grip.
The outgoing Chairman of Visit Scotland laid in to regional boards and accommodation owners just before he left for “whingeing” – probably because members have been cheesed off with VisitScotland’s pernickety and irrelevant accommodation grading parameters, on top of its poorly performing online booking system.
It is reported elsewhere that a number of regions have decided to drop VisitScotland and will plough their own furrow in future.
Now VisitScotland proposes to include TripAdvisor reviews alongside its own grading system for accommodation in Scotland. Whilst its own grading system may be pants, it does at least have some objectivity. But TA’s anonymous, unverified reviews will muddy the previously clear waters.
Can they not see the potential for big trouble ahead among their remaining membership? At present TA is probably not that big a deal for most accommodations in Scotland – TripAdvisor’s influence does not have a great affect on small independent hotels and owners on the east side of the Pond. BUT once TA reviews are featured on an important information source like VisitScotland – it remains important even in its current parlous state – then there may be unexpected consequences:
- It’ll be welcomed by the few places with lots of good TA reviews, but will further cheese off the majority of the owners featured on VisitScotland, who do not feature strongly on TripAdvisor.
- Consequently there will be a temptation for places with few reviews, who currently don’t give a jack about TripAdvisor, getting on to friends and relatives to give their ratings on TA – and hence VS – “a wee boost”.
- While they’re on, they well decide to dish out a few dodgy reviews for the competition, too.
There may be trouble ahead …