Friday, May 9, 2014

Are we Terrible, or was it Blackmail?

Do you believe that things happen for a reason? Well we do and when we got a Terrible (first and only one that we have) review on TripAdvisor the other day, we were not sure why, until we saw an article this morning, and then so much made sense. Fare or Poor maybe, but Terrible?

Now we are not too proud. We all work hard at the Inn on Charlotte to make our guests say as nice as possible; but we know we are not perfect. Mistakes happen, we are human, so we know we can always do better. So we constantly ask guests for tips, hint, and suggestions on how we could make their stay better. After all, we see them as an experts, staying in the rooms each night. And whether we get criticism on-line or in-person (we prefer the latter, when we can do something about it at the moment), we take it as a gift from a friend, helping us do a better job.

So when we recently read a guest's Terrible review on TripAdvisor, we were actually looking forward to learning about things that we can fix. And while they had a legitimate complaint that was addressed, there were so many other things, things out of our power to change, that it sounded peculiar.  Forinstance, they thought our neighbor’s buildings were dirty, and our central AC was too noisy, and we were a little arrogant and dismissive. These last items left us scratching our heads. This did not sound like us, or our fabulous girls, or the Inn on Charlotte, at all!

Over the years we have learned that some Europeans have problems with central AC systems – we understand that they are not use to a big air-handler running on/off all night long – so we expect that complaint from some guests, and except it as a fact of life. But when you start with our neighbor’s dirty buildings and run from there… it makes us scratch our heads.

But then we saw this article this morning and so much now makes sense...

In this story, they talk about a new trend is some travelers who use the review and a way to get something for nothing.  While Bed and Breakfast owners use TripAdvisor reviews as a way to improve our products and services, it seems now that some guests are using it to blackmail the business they are patronizing. This would not hurt a large corporate company that has hoards of employees, and vast properties to defer losses across, but blackmail is very hard on a small business. After all we already are running on a shoe-sting budget.

What we are finding is that these so-called reviewers will complain about the meal or the service and when you ask how to put it right, you can guarantee it will be some sort of freebie.

After reading that line, it hit us because we remembered this line in the review:  “…no attempt for any compensation to make us maybe feel better.”  After reading this article and then rereading the review, it all seemed to come together and make sense to us now.

It’s sad that this kind of mind-set might drift into the most of hospitable of industries, the B&B business. It places good bed and breakfast hosts in a very difficult place. How does one react to a blackmailing guest? A good topic for another article, we think.

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