Star ratings provided by recognized organizations and user reviews on popular consumer websites both serve as vital benchmarks for a property's level of customer service, some hoteliers say. "When people are online and looking at things and they see we are one of the top hotels on TripAdvisor, and then they learn we're a (Forbes Travel Guide) 5-star hotel, those really support each other. ... Both of them are good, validating efforts, and we appreciate our reputation with both and others," said Jonathan Crellin, general manager of the Boston Harbor Hotel.

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