The strange case of the Hotels.com rating system

Whenever I book a hotel, I tend to use Hotels.com to find it. Their website is pretty good and has decent search filters that allow me to find what I’m looking for pretty easily. I’ve found the prices decent and the descriptions of the hotel pretty accurate when I’ve made my trips.
However last time I made a booking, I thought I noticed something odd. The average user rating of the hotel dropped pretty dramatically between me finding the hotel and actually booking it. I couldn’t be certain it happened, but thought that I’d keep an eye on it the next time I used the site.
I’m off to London in December and so once again I found myself on the website looking for a hotel. As its Christmas, I thought I’d stay in a nicer hotel then my usual budget would allow and so filtered accordingly. In the end I chose the Novotel at St Pancreas as it was reasonably priced and ideally placed for the Eurostar which I need to catch the following morning.
Before placing my booking the hotel was reviewed as follows:

A pretty solid rating, as you would expect for a chain with Novotels reputation.
After I made my booking, the rating had indeed dropped quite considerably.

I fairly certain that the first rating is the more likely given this particular chain. However, it does raise some interesting questions about why the rating changes at all.

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