Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shocker: Hotel consultant switches sides, joins TripAdvisor foe

Now some will say he is really RockCheating.

In some travel tech news that will undoubtedly roil the hotel and travel-tech industries, hotel consultant Robert K. Cole of RockCheetah has abandoned his business -- and some would say his sanity -- and been hired as senior executive vice president emeritus, Hotel Monetization, Western World, for CheckChex.

CheckChex is an infamous reputation management firm, based in the Euro zone and on the Pacific Rim, which infamously has been a thorn in the side of hotel review site TripAdvisor and been on its case over CheckChex's unsubstantiated charges about an avalanche of fake reviews.

CheckChex's most notable accomplishment to date is that it has managed to coax EU authorities to deliver a slap on the wrist to TripAdvisor over trustworthiness boasts that TripAdvisor had abandoned months earlier.

So why is the Cole hiring such a shocker?

Cole has been a strong supporter of TripAdvisor and is on record as saying that its CEO, Steve Kaufer, is the smartest bloke in the travel industry. [You see Cole has just been hired and the American already is awkwardly and somewhat pathetically trying to speak Brit.]

Despite his support of the hotel review site, however, Cole has authored compelling investigative posts on the lengths that black-hat fake review factories will go to in order to slam competitors and he's unearthed many of their tricks.

So what compelled Cole to hitch his Lamborghini to CheckChex?

In an exclusive and insightful interview, Cole answered in a word.

"Boredom," Cole says.


Yes, Cole has reportedly grown bored with all of his sleuthing and investigative labors, especially his work on the best and least-read treatise (7,153 words) on the online travel agency hotel tax issue, Bathing in the Hotel Merchant Tax Quagmire.

Legions of Cole's blog and Twitter followers, as well as his erstwhile hotel clients, grew bored with the tome, too.

So Cole has thrown in the hotel towel and is tithing his fate and paychecks with CheckChex.

He is already in London today, April 1, which is April Fool's Day and a Sunday, not a work day in the UK.

The CheckChex press conference announcing its "get" of Cole is tentatively scheduled for April 2, pending the securing of a field house, Tim Tebow-like, for the press conference.

For the now-landmark "boredom" interview, Cole was reached at Hotel 41, in the shadows of Buckingham Palace. He is staying at the 5-star property in anticipation of the press conference, and may drop in on the Queen to see if she is in the market for some reputation management.

Why did Cole select Hotel 41?

"TripAdvisor hotel reviews," Cole replies smoothly.

Shhh. Don't tell CheckChex.