Old vs New Media: The NYT and UGC

The New York Times last week (laudably) started a new column entitled "The Haggler". The paper says that it would like "readers to send in their complaints about specific
transactions that have gone haywire: outrageous cell phone bills,
airline ticket trouble, car rental nightmares — you get the idea. The Haggler will then call the company, get to the bottom of what happened, and, with any luck, right a wrong.

The article does not mention hotels but as a service industry, hospitality is almost certain to generate reader responses. The future column's focus is hardly new and were The Gray Lady to keep abreast if not ahead of the times (no pun intended), she might have tried her hand at sponsoring a user generated content (UGC) site instead. While hotels that are "featured" on the NYT's site are very likely to respond with alacrity, any responsive (and savvy) hotel operator or owner knows all too well the compelling aspects of genuine UGC site reviews. And there are many ranging from putative industry leader Tripadvisor to Yelp and lesser known yet effective sites like disqus. Not only do they provide real time continual updates which a weekly column like Haggler cannot but have far greater geographical reach. Should the NYT launch one, its brand name alone ought to help propel its UGC to the top ranks.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.