Charlotte and Dina in Discussion about an Open Data Ecosystem for Reviews

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What kind of organisation is the Open Reviews Association? 

  • The Open Reviews Association, or ORA for short, is a philanthropic project centered around the idea that online customer reviews should be open data; and that they should not be locked up within proprietary data silos.
  • To this end, the ORA team has developed open source software that allows any customer-facing website or app to participate in an Open Data Ecosystem for online reviews.
  • For tourism such an open data ecosystem would mean that all participating actors in a destination can make use of the reviews data for their marketing, for analysing customer preferences, or for driving operational improvements internally or across the whole destination.
  • No matter where a tourist left their review; whether that was on the website of a hotel, or a navigation app, or on the website of the destination marketing organisation: every actor can download and use the data freely.

In which way companies from the hospitality sector can benefit from the platform?

  • Many parties can benefit from the Open Data Ecosystem once it gains a critical mass of reviews.
  • However, the ones that can benefit from day 1 are indeed the organisations that interact directly with tourists, be that a hotel or a restaurant or tour operator, or the destination marketing organisation that advertises local offerings to visitors.
  • Once they join the ecosystem they can start taking more ownership of their customer relationship and reduce their dependence and spend on the large proprietary reviews platforms such as Google, TripAdvisor, or Booking.
  • Once the size of the dataset grows, others can benefit, too, such as researchers and entrepreneurs developing new applications based on the experiences and opinions and perspectives that tourists shared.
  • And ultimately this will benefit the general public because we will have more alternatives when it comes to where to read and write reviews, to using recommender systems, or even just navigation apps. With the help of open reviews we hope to see a much wider range of innovation and get real alternatives to Google and co.

Customer reviews are very valuable and should be a commons

  • Customer reviews are online word-of-mouth and represent a fundamental and age-old form of human collaboration. The insights that people share with each other via reviews are an important way for us to discover, evaluate, and select the experiences that best fit our needs. Things become less risky for us to try ourselves, if someone else has already tried them before and has shared an opinion about them.
  • We believe therefore that this data is too valuable to be kept proprietary. It should rather be a commons, available for the benefit of all.
  • With this project we want to show that it is possible to separate the data from the products built on it: while the data itself is generated for free by hundreds of millions of users, it should also be available for free. Entrepreneurs should be able to build value-adding products on this data without barriers to entry.