We have many guests who write to us directly both with compliments and criticisms- we answer them all personally as we believe if someone has taken the trouble to write they deserve a response. We get many people compliment us and the team in person or via our Guest Book and we get some who offer friendly advice, tips on how to run a hotel and constructive criticism, again in person or in writing. We also have some guests who prefer to post reviews about us on sites such as Trip Advisor. Personally, I am not overly keen on such sites, although we are very lucky and mostly receive lovely comments, but I realize they serve a purpose and give people the chance to be “arm chair critics”, but as they are gaining in popularity and more and more people post reviews on such sites, I thought I would explore the subject still further…….
Overall we are very fortunate to have great reviews written about us. Every now and then, like most hotels, we have one that is not quite so complimentary and we do of course take note of the criticisms and action comments where possible. We realize that not everyone will like what we do, that sometimes there are hiccups with people’s stays and that sometimes people just haven’t enjoyed themselves with us for whatever reason. We personally answer almost every comment that is posted on review sites (we mostly do so privately rather than posting an “all to see” management response) However, sometimes, (albeit rarely), I feel compelled to post a management response, to be viewed by all, if only to put across our side of the story, or to rectify mis reporting of facts and so here are some of my comments as a hotelier on reviews and reviewers.
Here we go!! I’m not ranting, just putting across an hotelier’s point of view…..
A reviewer recently wrote that their bedroom (they had seen our website and specifically requested the room) had scuff marks on the walls and skirting boards……. Our bedrooms are re-touched and re-painted on a monthly basis and more often as necessary. However when the hotel is busy, sometimes we have issues with the painters having access to the rooms and we have to postpone the redec for a couple of weeks. Often, NO SOONER than the room has been re-painted then the walls, skirting’s and door thresholds are damaged by guests bashing suitcases into them, scraping back chairs and general wear and tear of the room in a manner that guests would perhaps be more careful not to inflict on their own homes.
Our carpets are cleaned EVERY month (the first Monday of the month). Sometimes guests spill red wine, nail polish and coffee and tea, not only over the carpets but also up the walls, across the bed and over the mattresses. Often they don’t tell us, so the stain soaks in and is difficult, if not impossible to remove and thus there needs to be a replacement rather than a repair.
We have TV’s pulled off their wall brackets and gaping holes left in the walls. Roll top baths moved so that the pipes disconnect and when the next guest runs a bath and then lets it out the room (and the room below) is flooded, as the guest “forgot” to tell us that by moving the bath, the pipe disconnected (I know… WHY move the bath? But believe me it has happened). We have mini bar keys jammed into bedroom door locks instead of the twice as large room key and then keys broken inside the lock as people try to force their way into their rooms, we have door handles pulled off….. the list is endless and we as the hotelier have to grin and bear it, foot the bill for the damage and desperately try to have it all repaired and back as good as new before the next guests check in.
We had a recent comment that there was no smoked salmon at breakfast and why didn’t the staff tell them when they sat down…. Agreed, it is annoying to be tempted by a dish of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon only to be told at the time of ordering that the supplier has let us down and not delivered on time, (we place the order in good faith, but we cannot foresee drivers being delayed due to an accident on the motorway on their way here to deliver).
We have had people state in their review that we are very expensive and then report how much their bill was, but they don’t mention the fact that their actual bill was for example £215.00 for 3 course dinner, accommodation and full English breakfast, inclusive of VAT (for two people sharing) and that the grand total was so much higher due to them choosing a very nice bottle of wine, cocktails in the bar, drinks from the mini bar and various other incidentals… instead they merely note the final figure, which is I think somewhat misleading, as we truly believe that our dinner, bed and breakfast offers are great value- what the guests spend thereafter is very much up to them, but all the major spends, (room and food) are already accounted for within the package rate.
Our staff are only human, they are not robots- they arrive at work with family conflicts, relationship hiccups, childcare worries, financial woes and all sorts of other day to day problems that we ALL encounter on their minds- they put their woes behind them, they smile and try to be as friendly and professional as possible, but sometimes they make mistakes- humans do… we ALL do… aren’t the people who post criticisms on review sites infallible sometimes? Don’t they make mistakes in their jobs, don’t their actions cause disappointment and annoyance on occasion- of course they do, but there probably isn’t a public forum for them to be criticised, have nasty (sometimes) and personal comments made about them (thankfully not a case with our own reviews, but not uncommon on review sites) and comments that can badly effect a small business.
Constructive comments are welcomed, but people often don’t understand other people’s industries and when they criticize without seeing the bigger picture it is disappointing and actually can have a very adverse effect on the business, staff morale and team spirit- thus as a hotelier we are not expecting people to only write nice comments about us, or to stop using review sites, all we wish for is that people are perhaps more aware that hotels are run and staffed by people with feelings, we are not machines. We and our team, like many hoteliers, care passionately about what we do and want to do it well, but don’t shoot us when sometimes it goes slightly lopsided- there may be a reason that is slightly out of our control and a little bit of tolerance goes a long way.
In the interest of balance, and in review sites’ defense, there are many people who find Trip Advisor to be a useful tool in helping them decide on places to stay. Some guests go to great lengths to ensure they report an accurate account of their stay, which can be both helpful for other guests and can help hoteliers to improve their business. However, Trip Advisor has come under much scrutiny and criticism from many in the industry. It has been widely alleged that on occasion, not all of the accounts of a guest’s stay are factually correct and even though Trip Advisor keenly point out that hoteliers have the right to reply, this is often a less than ideal way to respond as it opens up a war of words which just allows for even further comment and mis reporting of facts.
Whilst such sites as Trip Advisor continue to gain popularity with the general public, they should be used to the hotel’s advantage with hoteliers posting photos and information onto the site to help guests when they are trying to
choose where to stay, but these sites need to be managed and monitored very carefully in order that they remain a positive asset to the hotel and not detrimental to the business in anyway….. For my part, I am not a fan and don’t think I ever will be, but we recognize that they are well used by the public and so we “play ball” and tolerate them.
I suspect the debate within the industry as to whether such review sites are helpful or a hindrance will run and run and it’s an interesting topic to debate.
In the meantime many thanks to all those guests who comment in a factually correct, constructive and often kind manner about their stays, by whatever forum
Till next week