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Another b and b owner told me about this forum when I told her that we were purchasing a b and b this summer.  I have logged on occaisonally to see topics-but today I decided I would introduce myself, and vent a little.

 

I am a 40 something mother, going into a second career as a b and b owner after completing culinary school and working a few years in restaurants to gain experience.  Things have been going very well.  We purchased a home that has been a b and b for over 20 years in a theatre community that we have hoped to move to for some time.  A few guests were perturbed by the change, but most have been what you would expect, friendly and glad that someone who wants to do well has taken over the business.  The previous owner was also a chef and provided dinners in house, we have kept that option for guests and it has been a very busy and great summer-little speed bumps, but that is to be expected when you are new at something...until last night.

 

We had a last minute booking, a guy forgot his anniversary and wanted to treat his wife.  Our best room was not taken (unusual) so I offered it after describing the other available room.  He booked it and they arrived early the next day.  She seemed happy, but was not.  Later that evening she was very upset--for so many reasons it was hard not to feel like I couldn't possibly make her happy.  So, here is the list:  tv is too dim (they backed up into a HUGE tree on the way out this morning), windows won't open, I don't like fruit, or your breakfast (sausage and leek crostada with cheddar, fall fruit chutney and apple cider reduction served with a small salad and fried egg) and I expect a 6 course breakfast, the bottled water isn't cold, the fan doesn't work (now that was legitimate-the battery went on the remote and I didn't have a backup-lesson learned..my husband tried to offer to go out and purchase a new one, literally would have taken 10 minutes, but they didn't want to be disturbed anymore), the fan we gave them was too loud, I didn't have tomato juice.

 

She looked daggers at me through breakfast, made everyone uncomfortable.  I was very polite, apologized for her every inconvience as she loudly listed them all so everyone could hear.  Our other guests had been at the house for a little longer, had high tea on the patio the day before and really enjoyed themselves, so I didn't feel the need to hide this woman away, after all, I think she wanted an audience.  

 

So, I also could use a little advice.  She told my husband that she will be writing an online review--any tips on how to handle a bad review?  I think if it is on tripadvisor that you can respond--thanks for any encouragement and advice.

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birdwatcher's picture
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Welcome! Guests come in all sizes, manners and some like most said will never be made happy-if she threatens with a TA bad review just answer it in good form and let it go-she is probably one of those guests that think they ate "above" everyone-goodluck and this site is the best ever for anything, you want advise? you want to vent? tell someone a good idea? THIS IS THE PLACE!

Smiling and remember -they come and the go and some you dont have take back-that couple is  on the DNR list.

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Welcome! Most likely they will not post! The ones that post are the ones that never complain or say anything. They almost enjoy the chance to talk bad about something because it makes them feel powerful. If they say anything and you fix there issues it takes there ammo away!

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Madeleine's picture
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Just heard this from a guest I was chatting with- we read the reviews but the thing we really read are the responses. We stayed at a place the other day that had a really bad review about how mean the staff was and how unaccommodating. Then we read the response that explained the guest showed up drunk at 2 AM and the police had to be called because they were so obnoxious to the staff and other guests were being woken up.

He said it was the response that made the difference to them.

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Madeleine wrote:

Just heard this from a guest I was chatting with- we read the reviews but the thing we really read are the responses. We stayed at a place the other day that had a really bad review about how mean the staff was and how unaccommodating. Then we read the response that explained the guest showed up drunk at 2 AM and the police had to be called because they were so obnoxious to the staff and other guests were being woken up.

He said it was the response that made the difference to them.

AMEN!

And for those who think NEVER responding to great reviews is a good idea, I disagree. It shows the inn is there, concerned with all guests, and grateful for those nice reviews. It is an oppty to show you are a real person, family owned small business vs a corporation!

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05/30/2008

Welcome

The good news is that this guest may never write a review at all.  The other good news is that if they do, you will have the chance to respond to it and list all the wonderful things that you had to offer this guest and other guests that might come to stay with you.  So, take heart!

A negative review can be crushing...this business is soooooooooo personal.  We invite people into our homes and break our backs trying to provide the best possible stay for them.

Sounds like you are working to provide a lot of great experiences for your guests.  Remember that most guests are wonderful and the others are probably ticked off at someone else or the world in general.

Hang in there!!

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Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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Welcome!! I'm also a 40-something mom living the innkeeper dream. E-mail me sometime.

I think this woman stayed with me last month! In 5 years, she's the only one to write a snotty review that was completely false. Maybe you'll get lucky like I did - this woman's review was SO over the top (as compared to my 125 others) that no potential guest with half a brain cell in their head would believe any of it. Turns out, she was pi$$ed because SHE burned her rayon dress by ironing it with the setting too high and she expected me to compensate her for it. I did not offer. Of course, this didn't show up in the review.

The advice here is great!! When you write the response to that review, you MUST take the high road and turn her nastiness into a positive push for your place. Anyone (well, anyone that you want to stay with you) will be able to see that it's clearly she who is being a total PITA. She probably just uses T/A as a place to vent her complaints and rarely will offer anything constructive or usable to the next potential guest. 

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seashanty's picture
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  isn't this forum awesome?

  We had a last minute booking, a guy forgot his anniversary and wanted to treat his wife.

boom!  that is possibly why she was so terribly unhappy.

and if she is ALWAYS unhappy, he probably wants to forget he ever married her.

absolutely, when (if) a negative review comes, forge on past your hurt, turn it around to a sales pitch by addressing the positives as suggested here and try not to feel bad. 

i know it hurts. 

 

WELCOME!!heart

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Highlands John's picture
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As I often say to dh when we have miserable guests........"If they're like that when they're on holiday, what are they like the rest of the year??????".

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06/24/2008

Welcome!!!

Lots of good advice here.  Just know that most of our guests are great, just a few we wish we could toss out with the dirty bath water.  Be glad her stay was short and if you are lucky you will never see her again, unfortunately that poor husband is doomed for a life sentence.

Hope your weekend is full with the best guests ever! 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Welcome! We all have a guest at some time or other who cannot be please no matter what you do. You could roll out a red carpet, have a personal maid on duty, her own personal waiter, done a made-to-order 6 course breakfast and she would have wanted an 8 course, and you still would not have pleased her. He FORGOT their anniversary - how could he! It is as if he forgot HER! Nothing you could do.

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All I could do what think of you and this forum as I took a call from a dude in the dog house, booking a special getaway in October for his wife's bday which had already passed...he told me if he didn't do something he was in trouble. Well, I hope this is enough, and not the same you had there! broken heart

Joey Camb's picture
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Also you might want to think about setting up a Google Alert for your bed and breakfast name - this means if the review pops up anywhere on anything on the internet you will be alerted and can deal with it straight away.

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Madeleine's picture
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Interestingly enough, not a single one of my reviews ever shows up in a Google alert. I have to be signed up for the individual review site's email.

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Madeleine wrote:

Interestingly enough, not a single one of my reviews ever shows up in a Google alert. I have to be signed up for the individual review site's email.

Yes I was going to concur on that, they don't show up in google alerts, but if you have signed into TA for mgmt stuff, then you should get an email from TA.

Generic's picture
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Actually, TA's own alerts only seem to work for the language in which you have signed up for them. Get a review in a foreign language and it doesn't seem to send out the alert.

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Welcome to the forum! 

 

Let me start by saying it wasn't about you, it wasn't about the stay, she was peeved at HIM< and now everybody has to pay.

I know that doesn't help, but later on you might even get mad at yourself for letting her get to you, and disrupt the peace at the inn.

Remember this saying "They stay, they pay, they go away"

Hope it doesn't ruin the rest of your week...hang in there.

Generic's picture
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Welcome

There is no pleasing some people and they even make up things if they don't find things. For the "dim" TV, check that it isn't set on "energy saver" and go into the settings and make it "brighter". Put in the new batteries and don't say a word about it.

The fact that she doesn't like fruit or your breakfast has nothing to do with you and all to do with her. But ask what she would like for breakfast and see how much of it you can accommodate easily, if not, don't worry about it, it's her problem.

Many people say they will leave a review, but they don't. But if she does review, you have two advantages...

  1. You have the final word, she can't reply to you. So you can address the problems directly and not have to worry that she will come back to make more remarks.
  2. You can use this as a way to use TA as advertising. For example, you can describe all the lovely dishes that you served for breakfast that she didn't like. You can mention the flat screen TV in the room and that you immediately went out to the store to buy a replacement set of batteries. Use it to your advantage, because if everyone is going to read her review, they will also read your reply.... you have the eyes, use them.

 

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05/22/2008

welcome do not worry about a review! ANd, do not be intimated! There will,always be people you cannot please no matter what you do.Do your best and concentrate on the good ones.

write a professional mgt response if she does write one. You shoul not be blackmailed.

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Welcome! 

Just know that there are a few out there that cannot be pleased and probably get some sicko pleasure in causing a fuss about nothing.

How was the husband in all this?

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It was hard to tell how the husband was, he did make sure to tell me that he enjoyed the food and even ate a lot of hers....but as far as all the rest, not sure how he felt about it.  He never made a comment and stayed very neutral.  

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ShakespeareRules wrote:

It was hard to tell how the husband was, he did make sure to tell me that he enjoyed the food and even ate a lot of hers....but as far as all the rest, not sure how he felt about it.  He never made a comment and stayed very neutral.  

Trust me, he paid the price, moreso than anyone else.

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ShakespeareRules wrote:

It was hard to tell how the husband was, he did make sure to tell me that he enjoyed the food and even ate a lot of hers....but as far as all the rest, not sure how he felt about it.  He never made a comment and stayed very neutral.  

Yeah, he has to live with her. He won't say a word...

Madeleine's picture
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Welcome aboard!

Did the guest know you were new? Perhaps she was going out of her way to make you feel badly figuring you would give her the room for free because you didn't know any better.

The review...write the review you would like to give...damn Potty Mouth (auto filter)...and then write the review you want the world to see the next day. Sit on it. Ask your other innkeeping friends to review it for nastiness that you don't want to come across to everyone else.

Take the high road. Say you offered to replace the remote immediately and you were turned down. Take the opportunity to let readers know of the wonderful breakfasts you DO offer without commenting on what she said about 6 course. (My fat fanny, no one does that.) Also mention the tea. You don't have to apologize for not having every stinkin' thing a guest wants. Mention you have ice for the bottled water if the water isn't cold enough. Or say you've moved it into a guest fridge for everyone.

 

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Thanks so much for the welcome, and the advice is good.  I will take the high road for sure-no sense in adding fuel to the fire or becoming petty.  I've started getting acquainted with some local b and b owners, so I will ask their advice before sending my reply off into the eternal internet stratisphere...

Madeleine's picture
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Camberley will be around later on to tell you to use the mgmt response to tout all the good stuff on offer. It's good advice. 'Our 3-course, classic (fill in your area/food type here) breakfast generally consists of...' Make the readers' mouth water. If TA wants to use our inn names to push their agenda, turn about is fair play. Use TA to crow about the good stuff you offer.

In the meantime, if you have other TA reviews that are all good, now is the time to start writing mgmt responses to those thanking the guests for taking the time to write, nice to have met you, blah blah. Rather than just responding to only the bad stuff.

It will make it easier to write a response to a bad review if there is already a track record for how you respond in general.

Highlands John's picture
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And HJ will be around very soon to tell you to make sure you email those guests who you know enjoyed their stay and ask them to write a review. That way this grotty one will very quickly become burried on a later page and in comparison to all your good reviews this woman will appear more and more unreasonable.

Joey Camb's picture
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And here I am! (1) Lesson 1 - DO NOT LET THE CRAZY OUT ON THE INTERNET!

(2) - I am sorry you didn't like our breakfast of XYZ - perhapse HGT or PQX would have suited you better and as a trained chef I am happy to produce special dishes or for our guests with Dietary requirements we can do PQX gets you round any breakfast stuff.

(3)

Also if you had let us know prior to arrival that you required tomato juice which is not something we have in stock normally we would of course purchased some in for you, but at XYZ time in the evening we unfortunately were not able to leave our other guests to purchase this item.

I would however not address every single point in her review ie if she writes everything you have said, as it makes you as an innkeeper look overly fussy - just pick out the main points which will actually matter to future guests - ie air con didn't work in the height of summer is one thing - you didn't have tomato juice (and how many people drink this exactly?) is not a majour hoo harr.

Also be aware that you are not writing the response for her - she is completely irrelevant - it is your future customers who read this that matter and everything you write is to be a marketing opportunity to them. Never attack the customer directly ie gosh you were a right fussy cow and we were glad when you went - will not go down well.

If you can do your best to make it obvious she was very demanding in a way that is "read between the lines"

Generic's picture
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It is exactly the "read between the lines" response that needs to be there. The response needs to point out that this person was being a total PITA.

Unfortunately, we don't normally stock tomato juice and without advanced notice we could not oblige. We did have orange juice, milk, ten different types of tea, including herbal as well as milk, cream, regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee available, but unfortunately not tomato juice. (The longer the list, the better, it shows how unreasonable the person was being.)

Joey Camb's picture
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plus that's a doubly clever response because it gives you the opportunity to showcase all the things you do have.

 

 

Madeleine's picture
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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

 Never attack the customer directly ie gosh you were a right fussy cow and we were glad when you went - will not go down well. If you can do your best to make it obvious she was very demanding in a way that is "read between the lines"

No, no, she SHOULD say that! Everyone would laugh right out loud and agree with it! I will be saying that to myself whenever it is necessary...right fussy cow. Not in a response because I haven't attempted humor before so it wouldn't go over well.

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09/28/2012

I love all the really practical advice- and the humour!  It is how I approach life, so I appreciate it very much.  It is so true that we accommodate all kinds of diets and requests, with notice.  The high tea I did the day before had a lactose intolerant person-now that is a challenge to make pastries and sandwiches which are usually loaded with butter and cream-but they were all really happy with the result- and by the way that is the one meal I make with very little notice, like tell me at breakfast and you can have it for lunch.  I try to focus on all the great people we have met, this was just so over the top, I didn't really know how to feel about it.  Thanks so much to everyone, you all have lightened my day and I am now ready to meet my next group of great guests, including our first repeats!

Anon Inn's picture
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09/26/2011

Welcome to the forum!  Sounds like you may be in that smallish  city with the Lithia water.  The breakfast you described sounds lovely.  I hope we're able to stay with you the next we get enough time to enjoy some Shakespeare, indoors or out.  This forum is incredibly valuable.  It has saved us from many mistakes and miss-steps!

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