With another Trade Show season upon us, it’s time to review your vetting skills. Whether you are looking for soft goods, credit card payment processing, booking engine software, photography, or marketing and web services, knowing how to vet a company before you sign on the dotted line will save you both time, money, and headaches in the long run.
verb: make a careful and critical examination of (something).
synonyms: screen, assess, evaluate, appraise, weigh up, examine, look over, review, consider, scrutinize, study, inspect; investigate, censor, check, redact, check out, check up on; probe, research, look into, delve into, dig into, search into; give something a/the once-over, size up.
"investigate (someone) thoroughly, especially in order to ensure that they are suitable for a job requiring secrecy, loyalty, or trustworthiness."
Take our quick poll to determine your preferred vetting style.
If you chose Option 1:
I encourage you to continue reading further and practice building up your Vetting Skills. You don't want to be the one who finds themselves saying, "I was fooled by the sales pitch and have lost thousands."
If you chose Option 2:
You are definitely on the right track. Talking to both current customers and customers that have left the company will help you gain insight.
If you chose Option 3:
Using online tools to dig deep should definitely be part of your vetting toolbox.
If you chose "I do Option 2 and 3":
Doing both Option 2 (speaking with references) and Option 3 (digging deep online) is going to be the best way to make sure you're choosing the right company.
Which brings us to how one can dig deep online. It's not difficult, it just takes a bit of time. But it's time well spent if it helps you make the right decision when choosing a provider!
A Few Notes of Caution
- If you see any "dare to compare" style advertising, especially paid ads, from any company who is comparing themselves to a variety of their competitors, keep digging. Make sure you get your vetting information from non-biased sources.
- Keep in mind that just as you have reviews placed online about your establishment, one review does not a company make. However, when you begin to see trends in what you are finding online, it's important to take those trends into consideration as you choose a provider.
Below we have provided you with some helpful hints to effectively vet a company online.
Step 1: Go to Google.
Step 2: Type the Business Name.
Verify that you are looking at the right vendor! Results may include other vendors with similar names, but different addresses and phone numbers.
Step 3: Start reading everything you find.
Read through at least 3 pages of Google results.
You will be amazed by the information available online. Here are some websites below you should visit and read. I'll group these results into more manageable sections.
Helpful Hint: Don't start by just clicking the links below; do steps 1-3 above. Make sure you look for the results in Google that are specifically associated with the company you are vetting. Not all companies will have information in all the sections included below. It's best to simply type in the vendor's name and then read through the results that are provided.
Company Profile and Research Websites
These sites compile online data about company profiles, allowing searchers to follow, track, and research information online. These companies may include general businesses, and others may be more targeted to our hospitality industry. Some examples are:
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- Hotel Tech Report
- Pitch Book
- Surge Force
- Travel Massive
- Zoom Info
Client Review Sites
In addition to knowing what employees think of the company you are vetting, you should also read all you can about what clients are saying about that company. Some examples are:
- Google Reviews
Found on the Knowledge Graph in Google Results (see image).
Job and Recruiting Sites
Many job and recruiting sites include reviews by employees. You can learn a lot about a company by "hearing from" their employees. In fact, Glassdoor Economic Research just published an article indicating a real link between employee reviews and customer satisfaction. Some examples are:
Peer / Business Review Sites
These sites provide peer reviews, ratings, and comparisons of similar software companies. Some examples are:
- Featured Customers
- G2 / G2 Crowd
- Software Advice
- Trust Pilot
Social Media Sites
Some social media sites give the user the ability to write a review or post comments. Some examples are:
It never hurts to look for a company name, or ask questions about a company, in any online forums or chat rooms supporting our industry. Some examples are:
- Various FaceBook forums for hospitality professionals; may be public or limited to members. A few examples are: AIHP, PAII, etc.
It's important to read any of the online articles or blog posts that mention the company you are vetting. Some examples are:
Buyer and Seller Service Providers
It's important to understand if you are working with an Educator, Inn Consultant, Real Estate Agent or Real Estate Broker because depending on the capacity in which they are acting on your behalf, there are other providers you may need to work with directly such as Lenders, Real Estate Attorneys, Tax Consultants and Title Companies.
- Are you a Licensed Real Estate Agent or are you a Licensed Real Estate Broker?
- If you are not a Broker, what Broker or Brokerage Firm are you associated with?
- If you are part of a Real Estate Broker Firm, how many other parties in the firm specialize in the Inn Industry, and who are they?
- What is your License Number?
- What states are you licensed to perform Real Estate transactions?
- How long have you specialized in the B&B, Inn, and Boutique Hotel Industry?
- Provide 2-5 references for you to speak to (who have closed in the past 12 months)?
Finally: Trade show and national associations are NOT the vetting police!
Kris Ullmer, President/CEO - *Professional Association Innkeepers International (PAII)
While it is true that PAII is not the 'vetting police' we do have in place a Vendor Ethics Agreement for each of our Vendor Business Affiliate Members. Members agree to represent themselves truthfully, professionally, and in a non-misleading manner. Members agree to maintain a high level of ethical standards to assist in protecting against fraud or unfair practices in the innkeeping business; and to maintain relationships with other members based on respect and professional courtesy. Members must avoid using themes, materials and titles originated by others unless permission has been given.
Rob Fulton, CAE, CEO - *Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP)
AIHP is currently in the process of refining their Ethics Policy for Allied Partners. Watch for an update to this blog post once this information is available.
*Note: As of January 2020, AIHP and PAII have combined to form a new group called Association of Lodging Professionals (ALP).