Online hotel searching is a daunting task due to the wealth of online information. Reviews written by other travelers replace the word- of-mouth, yet turn the search into a time consuming task. Users do not rate enough hotels to enable a collaborative filtering based rec- ommendation. Thus, a cold start recommender system is needed.
In this work we design a cold start hotel recommender system, which uses the text of the reviews as its main data. We define con- text groups based on reviews extracted from TripAdvisor.com and Venere.com. We introduce a novel weighted algorithm for text min- ing. Our algorithm imitates a user that favors reviews written with the same trip intent and from people of similar background (na- tionality) and with similar preferences for hotel aspects, which are our defined context groups. Our approach combines numerous ele- ments, including unsupervised clustering to build a vocabulary for hotel aspects, semantic analysis to understand sentiment towards hotel features, and the profiling of intent and nationality groups.
We implemented our system which was used by the public to conduct 150 trip planning experiments. We compare our solution to the top suggestions of the mentioned web services and show that users were, on average, 20% more satisfied with our hotel recom- mendations. We outperform these web services even more in cities where hotel prices are high.