Marriott Alumni Magazine

Summer 2021

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are starting to blend these two together, realizing that when you share that data in a seamless way, you're able to improve operations much faster and make much more effective marketing campaigns." Ultimately, every development in the review pro- cess should target improving consumer experiences, because "people just want to be heard," Oates says. "If you don't make them feel heard, that's why they leave negative reviews online. They just want to know some- one is listening." World Wide Web, Small-Town Feel Knowing that someone is listening—or reading, any- way—is part of the reason Lohani enjoys reviewing businesses on Yelp. Perhaps her favorite review she's ever given was for an Indian-Italian fusion restaurant in California. "I was so authentic and animated in my review, many people indicated that they found it help- ful," Lohani says. "As a result, my review was marked as the sitewide Review of the Day, and that got me so excited knowing that people are actually reading my reviews and are finding them helpful." Engendering a sense of community is perhaps what online reviews do best. Though most consumers may not know their local grocers anymore, as Dotson says, shopping can still retain that social, neighborly aspect when the review process is done right. And in the future, that sense of community may become more important than ever. "The reason I con- tinue to be an active reviewer is because of the climate during the COVID-19 pandemic," Lohani says. "There are so many small restaurants and businesses that have gone under due to the pandemic. If I can contribute at all by highlighting and promoting these restaurants through reviews or other social media activity, that would make me so happy. I genuinely love writing reviews so that people can feel connected." Notes 1. Rise of the Review Culture, Brightpearl and Trustpilot, 2019, 2. Rise of the Review Culture. 3. Arthur Armstrong and John Hagel III, "The Real Value of On-Line Communities," Harvard Business Review, May–June 1996, 4. D. J. Sprague, "The History of Online Reviews and How They Have Evolved," ShopperApproved, 20 December 2019, 5stars.shopper About the Author Clarissa McIntire is a former assistant editor of Marriott Alumni Magazine. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and is currently earning a master's in the same with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition. She's one of those people who always says hi to other people's dogs. The History of Online Reviews 1997 The term "weblog" is coined, signaling the rise of blogs, which offer long-form product and business reviews. 1999 Some merchant and product reviews are available on sites such as eBay. 1999 Epinions, RateItAll, and Deja emerge as the three main original review sites. 2000 TripAdvisor is founded. 2001 Yellow Pages and Citysearch add online review functions to their sites. 2002 Google purchases Deja's intellectual property to create what would become Google Groups. 2004 Yelp is founded. 2007 More than 100,000 businesses join Facebook and begin marketing campaigns on the site. 2008 Consumer Reports purchases The Consumerist blog, which later becomes the Consumer Reports website. 2009 Yelp adds a feature that allows companies to respond to reviews; Google adds the same feature the following year. 2012 The Big Five review sites emerge: Facebook, Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon. 2017 Google outranks Facebook to become the site with the most reviews. 2018 Yelp, Google, and other sites create policies against various kinds of review manipulation. Sources: "The History of Online Business Reviews," Chatmeter, accessed 14 April 2021,; D. J. Sprague, "The History of Online Reviews and How They Have Evolved," ShopperApproved, 20 December 2019, 10 MARRIOTT

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