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.


Robert Cole said...

Dennis - I would like to set the record straight.

First, check your sources. I am not joining CheckChex. Nothing could be further from the truth.

However, as I consider you a friend, here's an exclusive - embargoed until April 1. I will be CEO for a stealth-mode sister company - CheckMates.

I can't reveal much, but CheckMates is a hotel dynamic packaging, hotel revenue management, social media engagement, dating website mash-up.

The innovative twist is that it is supplier-centric - the hotels serve as the merchant of record. They also receive a generous revenue share from the RoomMates.

The business model is straightforward - hotels allow guests to select from an array of "RoomMates" as a value-add to their hotel stay - creating a new revenue stream while enhancing guest satisfaction.

While RoomMates are able to variably price their services, hotels are open to yield up premiums or underwrite discounts based on various demand triggers or frequent guest profile elements.

Our proprietary PIMP (Property Integrated Matching Process) platform controls the business rules, bundling, revenue management, transaction processing and settlement processes.

The initial concept was an extension of Kimpton's providing a gratis Goldfish for lonely guests.

Our research indicated that a majority of hotel guests prefer human companionship and most importantly, if the "RoomMate" was sufficiently attractive, be willing to pay a premium for the service.

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