Really? 3 Stars?

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Kay Nein's picture
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I know there's been alot of review venting lately, but we just got a doozie ourselves.  I have to wait a few days before I respond.  We've NEVER gotten a 3-star review.  This girl was so blah, that we don't even remember them from a week ago.  Preppy, yuppies from PA, just passing through. 

Spent last night here, have to say, the smell of cat urine still lingers on mind. CAT URINE?  If she did smell it, it was outside.  Of course she doesn't mention that.  Thanks for making everyone feel like we have pissing cats all over the place.  Feels like your in a small hotel, this B&B is run like a business It is a BUSINESS, BoZo! . Innkeepers were pretty to the point and more business-like than most  We were sold out, did you consider that we were too busy with check-ins to sit down, share a drink and discuss your life?  We're always super friendly, joking, having a good time with people even when we are busy....and forget about choosing what time you will have breakfast as most B&B's offer. Most - exactly, not all B&Bs give you a range of time to eat.  So, why complain about that at the same time you're admitting that not all do that. Get over it - 9am is not ruining your vacation.  Come down and make a friend, apparently you need more positive energy in your life.  However, the breakfast was very good. Yeah, thanks for that.  Good - what an "ok" word.
The B&B was at occupancy the day we checked in. The walls were paper thin ( I could hear my neighbor unzipping their suitcase). Welcome to our 130 year old house.  Our room (The Cabin Room) was sandwiched between two other rooms, one of which had occupants that watched TV loudly until late into the night and again first thing in the morning (glad I always bring my earplugs!).  Yeah, I'll admit that's a problem.  But, usually it's the others complaining about her room having the TV too loud - it's right against the wall to the neighbor's room.
Nicely decorated rooms almost feel cluttered and over-done. Our room alone had 3 antique replica wood stoves. There are two, extremely small one-burner stoves and they act as the nightstands.  Two one-gallon cast iron kettles border the fireplace.  So, you thought the tacky fake evergreen tree in the corner was nice though?
The Inn is nicely located near the town's quaint Main Street, were shopping and a nice variety of shops and culinary delights. Don't think I would stay again. Thank God!

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I do not prefer review stars. I think this is not real and it could deceive you. If you rely on 3 or 2 stars then this might not be true.

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Kay Nein's picture
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Ok, I'm putting this to bed.  Y'all are amazing!  I'm so lucky to have so many business coaches at my service wink  

Here's what I'm going to post :

We appreciate our guests taking the time to share feedback.  As always guest input is important to us.  While we strive to ensure that all of our guests have an enjoyable experience here, we do realize a B&B is not for everyone.  We are pleased that this guest enjoyed our scrumptious breakfast, the nicely decorated room and the location, which is within walking distance to many of the town's wonderful shops and restaurants.  We are a bit perplexed, however, at the smells that this guest allegedly experienced.  There are no animals at the inn, and no other guests had an issue with this.  Luckily, our semi yearly inspection was done the day the guest left and the health inspector confirmed there were no cat smells anywhere in the inn.

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What is the purpose of a management response on TA?

Go there and find the answer grasshopper.

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I also would keep it as short as possible, and not address the reviewer directly.  Responding to every single point they made is going to lose the reader.  Maybe something like:

While we strive to ensure that all of our guests have an enjoyable experience here, we do realize a B&B is not for everyone.  We are pleased that this guest enjoyed our scrumptious breakfast, the nicely decorated room and the location, which is within walking (?) distance to many of the town's wonderful shops and restaurants.  We are both a bit perplexed, however, at the smells that this guest allegedly  experienced.  There are no animals at the inn, and no other guests had an issue with this.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with others.  We sincerely hope your next B&B visit is more to your expectations.
 

Keep it positive, and short.  I just don't see a need to address any of the other things she brought up. 
 

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This is a great response, Banana!  It addresses the issue without giving undo emphasis and the reader can clearly see the person is not a B+B person. yes

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Cat urine?? She doesn't say inside or outside. Do you have boxwoods in your landscaping? I know this sounds weird, but I cannot stand the smell of boxwoods. They remind me of cat pee. Maybe that's what she smelled.

 

On a side note, I once had a woman complain of her sheets smelling like urine. What the....???!! I have a very sensitive sniffer and I sniffed all over their sheets, comforter, blanket, mattress pad, pillows and shams after they left for the day and could not smell a thing! I'm convinced that she must have dreamed the whole thing OR maybe it was her mentally disabled daughter's adult diapers that she was smelling! I re-washed everything and changed out the entire bed while they were out. Fortunately they didn't write a review. 

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If it were me I wouldn't spell it out so much, keep it simple sweetie. 

But it wasn't me, I know when it is the person on the mgmt response you want to correct their errors, big time! I understand that completely.

           "Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. As always guest input is important to us. We wish you the best in your next B&B stay!

            PS There are no animals living at the inn."

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Draft #2 - 

Thank you for choosing to stay with us on your travels through our area.  We are pleased that you enjoyed our breakfast and our fantastic location in the heart of downtown.  We are fortunate to have such a wide range of excellent shops, dining and entertainment within walking distance.

Even when the inn is full, we most often are able to share some personal time with all of our guests. Check-in can be a busy time and seem a little business-like, but we are a happy-go-lucky bunch and enjoy having a great time with our guests and making them feel welcome.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this IS a business and not a house full of old friends!

We were alarmed by your mention of a foul odor, as we had never had any complaints like that before and we have never allowed animals inside our Inn.  As luck would have it, we had our bi-annual health inspection today.  The inspector checked that room for a smell, but none could be found.  I am certain that you smelled that outside, though I have not seen any stray cats in some time. 

The Cabin room is decorated to simulate a cabin experience.  The two one-burner wood stoves are very petite and serve as the nightstands, hardly taking up any space and adding to the rustic feel. 

It’s unfortunate that you were unhappy with your stay.  We do our utmost to make every stay an enjoyable one and we are disappointed that in this one instance this was not the case

Madeleine's picture
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It's too long. No one will read it. You're trying to hard. Cut, cut, cut.

You are still not saying there are NO cats at the inn. You're saying there ARE cats outside that you don't let in. In effect you're saying there's a distinct possibility this guest got a snootful of cat pee but not from a cat you've seen personally.

The longer the mgmt response the more likely the guest had a point.

In my traveler's head is the cat pee. I don't care about the nightstands, I can look at the photos of the rooms. I care about the awful smell.

Tell me there are no cats. Tell me you have no cats. Don't tell me there are feral cats you haven't seen for awhile.

"We were surprised by the comment about cat urine as we have never had cats at the inn. Luckily, our semi yearly inspection was done the day the guest left and the health inspector confirmed there were no cat smells anywhere in the inn."

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Haps,

What is the S or A word? I know I am being daft. I can't figure it out. You said it before and I didn't ask, but thought I will this time!

Kay Nein's picture
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Do you mean Sorry & Apologize?

Arks's picture
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So you're not specifically saying there is no cat in the house?

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Kay Nein's picture
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I missed the most important part!!  

Kay Nein's picture
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Ok, here's my response draft #1 - 

Thank you for choosing to stay with us on your travels through our area.  We are pleased that you enjoyed our breakfast and our fantastic location in the heart of downtown.  We are fortunate to have such a wide range of excellent shops, dining and entertainment within walking distance.

We were booked solid that night and apologize for the “to the point” and “business-like” impression you received.  With eight rooms, it gets a little hectic during check-ins.  But, we are a happy-go-lucky bunch and enjoy having a great time with our guests and making them feel welcome.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this IS a business and not a house full of old friends!

We were alarmed by your mention of a foul odor, as we had never had any complaints like that before.  In fact, we often hear surprise that our Inn doesn’t smell musty or old as some would expect from a building this age.  As luck would have it, we had our bi-annual health inspection today.  The inspector checked that room for a smell, but none could be found.  I am certain that you smelled that outside, though I have not seen any stray cats in some time. 

The Cabin room is decorated to simulate a cabin experience.  The two one-burner wood stoves are very petite and serve as the nightstands, hardly taking up any space and adding to the rustic feel. 

We sincerely hope that you choose to stay with us again.  All of our rooms are so different in feel, location and accessibility that we can surely meet your needs now that we know what they are.

Madeleine's picture
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I think it's kind of long. I'd cut most of it back. Totally skip how busy you are. Either directly say there are no cats or don't mention cats at all and just stick with the health inspector not finding any smells.

1st paragraph fine.

Ok to describe the decor but reiterating the size of the stoves makes it sound like they might be too big or awkward in the space.

happykeeper's picture
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After all this time I still don't know how to make the quote thingy work to capture just one section. blush

This is just one crazy innkeepers opinion, so take it in or leave in the rain.

We try REALLY hard to avoid using the S word or A word. We were taught that this reinforces the belief of the reader and guest that you think you were wrong. It increases the sense of entitlement of the wronged and makes others wonder what you did to make it right.

This is also something we do to protect ourselves and to remind ourselves that we can work at improving something without being sorry about the way it is.

I might go with something like, "Even when the inn is full, we most often are able to share some personal time with all of our guests. Check-in can be a busy time and seem a little business like, but we are a happy.....
 

Oh well...off the cuff.. your review reply was quite good

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Highlands John's picture
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happykeeper wrote:

This is also something we do to protect ourselves and to remind ourselves that we can work at improving something without being sorry about the way it is.

I once did a communications course and on that they taught us that in a confrontational situation if you don't feel you are in the wrong you can diffuse the situation by apologizing but not actually for the thing in question. 

So if someone says the bed is too hard, instead of saying "I'm sorry the bed wasn't comfortable" you say "I'm sorry the bed was not to your liking". You're not actually agreeing that there is something wrong but the other person still feels you've apologized.

The frequently used reply is "I'm sorry you feel that way", again not sorry for what you did.

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happykeeper's picture
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For me, that might just make me mad. The undercurrent is that I am an exception, you are not sorry, and you will be doing nothing. It's like talking to the airlines. cheeky

 

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happykeeper wrote:

For me, that might just make me mad. The undercurrent is that I am an exception, you are not sorry, and you will be doing nothing. It's like talking to the airlines. cheeky

To be honest, if you are this guest I really don't care what you think, you're probably not going to come back, and I wouldn't want you back anyway. The purpose of the management response is to convince potential guests that you ARE an exception, your complaints are unreasonable and I'm doing the best I can for the majority of my customers.  cheeky

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Highlands John wrote:

To be honest, if you are this guest I really don't care what you think, you're probably not going to come back, and I wouldn't want you back anyway. The purpose of the management response is to convince potential guests that you ARE an exception, your complaints are unreasonable and I'm doing the best I can for the majority of my customers.  cheeky

Good points John. 

happykeeper wrote:

The undercurrent is that I am an exception, you are not sorry, and you will be doing nothing.

Then John did a good, truthful job, because this guest IS an exception, John is NOT sorry, and should not be, and John will be doing nothing because nothing needs to be done.

Joey Camb's picture
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its like I had one for room 4 this week - bed is Very comfortable ie to the point where 3 guests have gone from mine to the bed shop to buy one! (I should be on commission) complained it was uncomfortable (maybe for her) and there was a smell in the bathroom (which was never mentioned during the stay and no sign of the next day and not a general problem with this room) complained she could hear road noise - all pictures show us next to the road and she booked a last minute room for VERY busy time so should have been grateful to have anything at all! plus without her asking gave her a discount for single occupancy which I didn't need to do.

I am working on my response as don't have patience with people like that - all nice to your face and rude to your back.

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happykeeper's picture
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Ouch! Let's just say John has it right and I'll slink off and finish putting in the new water pump.

Highlands John's picture
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happykeeper wrote:

Ouch! Let's just say John has it right and I'll slink off and finish putting in the new water pump.

Ah... now that's the idea.

I feel placated because I feel you've admitted I was  right......... you feel good because in actual fact you didn't say I was right at all. smiley  smiley  smiley

Kay Nein's picture
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No, those are great points.  And I like that rewrite.

Highlands John's picture
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If you don't mind me saying so I think the comment about the odor is a big issue and I don't think you are addressing it aggressively enough, I would say there are no pets on the premises (I'm assuming that), I'd take out the bit about the old building not smelling musty cos that gives the idea that there may be some credence to the reviewers comments.

Personally I wouldn't say "We sincerely hope that you choose to stay with us again." because that isn't true, I wouldn't want them back.

 

Kay Nein's picture
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Good points.  I was trying to play nice angel

I know they won't come back, I was just using that line as a way to show  that we can meet specific needs if people tell us what they are.  I have people ask me for a quiet room and I can direct them to the ones that are quietER, but also warn them of potential noise so they aren't surprised/disappointed when they stay.  (ie: bar bahind us that has outside music until 10pm and the fire/police departments one block away that come blaring down our street with sirens.)

Do you still think I should take that out?  if so, what would your closing be?

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Kay Nein wrote:

Good points.  I was trying to play nice angel

I don't know what your TA page looks like, if you have 2 reviews, one good and this one I would play nice. If you have lots of good reviews and this one I'd be a lot less nice.

Kay Nein wrote:

I know they won't come back, I was just using that line as a way to show  that we can meet specific needs if people tell us what they are.  I have people ask me for a quiet room and I can direct them to the ones that are quietER, but also warn them of potential noise so they aren't surprised/disappointed when they stay.  (ie: bar bahind us that has outside music until 10pm and the fire/police departments one block away that come blaring down our street with sirens.)

Do you still think I should take that out?  if so, what would your closing be?

Assuming this is your one bad review I'd say something along the lines of "We're sorry you were unhappy with your stay, we do our utmost to make every stay an enjoyable one and we are disappointed that in this 1 instance this was not the case".

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btw - we ran into the PO at an event we were sponsoring.  She took a look at our brochure and commented that our rates were VEEERRRRY reasonable.   Implying we were charging too little. 

The truth is, we charge about the same as the other two inns on our street.

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We got a new TA review. A couple who we upgraded $30 and I gave them info on a local concert to walk to that was only $10, and more. Gave us a great review and dropped a couple bubbles for location and service. Mentioned the great service and attitude, but not full bubbles. 

People are fickle. Weird isn't it. I don't care, just mentioning how as they say in Toastmasters "Lizard brains" (I just read that term today oh wait Seth talks about it here) Yes I googled it.

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I was surprised when I saw a very good review with only 3 bubbles for 'service.'  What, exactly, were they expecting?  We refresh the rooms, give bottled water, 24 hour coffee, wine glasses, water glasses, fresh fruit always available, a nice breakfast for 2 hours and are around almost all the time.  

What did we miss?  

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People are strange. Just keep that in mind.

We've been dinged on value after the guests told us they had to pay in Boston for everything they got here for free.

Dinged for value when the room was totally free.

Dinged for 'sleep' when a truck used Jake brakes at 7am.

We get dinged for 'not gourmet' when we never say this is going to be a gourmet breakfast.

Guests have expectations based on the last place they stayed or the place they stayed 20 years ago. All we can hope for is the last place wasn't that great! Eye-wink

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People are strange. Just keep that in mind.

We've been dinged on value after the guests told us they had to pay in Boston for everything they got here for free.

Dinged for value when the room was totally free.

Dinged for 'sleep' when a truck used Jake brakes at 7am.

We get dinged for 'not gourmet' when we never say this is going to be a gourmet breakfast.

Guests have expectations based on the last place they stayed or the place they stayed 20 years ago. All we can hope for is the last place wasn't that great! Eye-wink

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

I was surprised when I saw a very good review with only 3 bubbles for 'service.'  What, exactly, were they expecting?  We refresh the rooms, give bottled water, 24 hour coffee, wine glasses, water glasses, fresh fruit always available, a nice breakfast for 2 hours and are around almost all the time.  

What did we miss?  

and they even got a book online discount! Smiling (plus $30 upgrade x 2 nights = $60)

Table service. Home-cooked breakfast.  It is what it is. Odd, as it is. 

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

I was surprised when I saw a very good review with only 3 bubbles for 'service.'  What, exactly, were they expecting?  We refresh the rooms, give bottled water, 24 hour coffee, wine glasses, water glasses, fresh fruit always available, a nice breakfast for 2 hours and are around almost all the time.  

What did we miss?  

The red carpet, the butler in attendance, the ladies maid, and the valet of course! There was no one there to hand them their heated towel as they exited the shower. Eeeewww!! (shudder) bad thought!

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gillumhouse wrote:

TheBeachHouse wrote:

I was surprised when I saw a very good review with only 3 bubbles for 'service.'  What, exactly, were they expecting?  We refresh the rooms, give bottled water, 24 hour coffee, wine glasses, water glasses, fresh fruit always available, a nice breakfast for 2 hours and are around almost all the time.  

What did we miss?  

The red carpet, the butler in attendance, the ladies maid, and the valet of course! There was no one there to hand them their heated towel as they exited the shower. Eeeewww!! (shudder) bad thought!

 

You're right.   We suck at this.   Eye-wink

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 i can't stand perfume or cologne with musk in it. that smells like urine to me. just sayin'

Kay Nein's picture
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So, funny coincidence.  We had our health inspection today.  Other Innkeeper asked her to check that room for smell and (as we expected), she said there was no smell.  Should I mention that in my response?  

We got a 100% BTW cool

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Do you perchance have Boxwood growing around your house?  To me (and others) that always smell very similar to cat pee.

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Kay Nein's picture
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No, I don't think we do.

Madeleine's picture
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I like Beachy's response.

And congrats on the inspection.

I think mentioning the health inspector came for your annual review and found no evidence of any cat smells is a good point. Make sure it's clear the inspector was not there because of the review!

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Kay Nein wrote:

So, funny coincidence.  We had our health inspection today.  Other Innkeeper asked her to check that room for smell and (as we expected), she said there was no smell.  Should I mention that in my response?  

We got a 100% BTW cool

sure.  something like, "We were alarmed by your mention of a foul odor, as we had never had any complaints like that before, so we immediately checked the room.  In fact, we had a health inspector check the room as well and none of us could find evidence of any odor.  I am sorry you didn't enjoy your stay and pleased that you were kind enough to mention our terrific location.  Our guests generally enjoy the feel, romance, architecture and charm of an antique home, but we understand that is not everyone's cup of tea."

happykeeper's picture
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YES having the health inspector show up was fortuitous. 

One thing we rarely do is use the S word.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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what I didn't say;

 

The number for the Hampton Inn is .... OR

Maybe you'd prefer a sterile, modern Marriott.....

 

(I just posted a whole bunch of responses on my TA page.   For the lady who didn't like the pillows, I just ignored it.   People I've talked to all have said, "but people have allergies!" so I think we're fine leaving it there.)

 

Kay Nein's picture
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Great response, BH!  

seashanty's picture
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 talk about mean!

i would definitely post the positive spin response - with the addition that, as they mentioned you were full occupancy and you as innkeeps very extremely busy. also, wondering about the cat smell as the inn does not have cats. 

i've stayed in lots of places and in most if there are other guests i hear them. that's how it is. once my room was over a pub. mistake!  complain?  no!  what did i expect?

 i have this theory  - some people feel like they are some kind of super-reviewer and need to write this kind of c**p.  this was good, this was bad, this was so-so.  blahblahblah  curious to know how the other reviews from this person are.

 

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So - I wasn't going to post this, but I would have used an almost identical subject line.  "Three stars?  Really?" This perfectly demonstrates the randomness of peoples perceptions.  I'm actually OK with it because if (like I do) people click on the worst review to see what was so bad, they'll probably be encouraged.

We stayed at ………… this past week end. It is in a perfect location to downtown  ………, we walked to town. …….. was very hospitable, eager to assist us with anything we needed, and provided a delicious breakfast each morning. The rooms are exceptionally clean with many amenities. Do not be discouraged when you see it from the outside. It is in the process of a new coat of paint and some repair. We had a wonderful stay!
Room Tip: We were on the second floor, the ……  room, and our daughter was in the ...... room. It was perfect for us

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Sorry UK, but the only word I have for that reviewer also describes the animal her home state is known for. 

And I would start the review with the words "We are sorry you were so disappointed with your stay" just so she knows that her rating said to you exactly that.

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I just don't understand how "perfect" location", "exceptionally clean", "delicious breakfasts" "wonderful stay" "hospitable" "anything we needed" translates to ***.  OK ..... no more whining.  I need to address my incoming guests needs.  .... and yes - the exterior definitely needs to be addressed but they seemed very impressed with what we doing to maintain it.

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I don't get it either, ukie! So maybe it was a scrolling error. They meant it to be 5 stars but didn't click the right bubble.

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That's why I suggest that you reply as if she disliked her stay. Anyone reading it will realize she's completely off her rocker with her rating and of course see all the things she wrote. It also lets her know that you don't think the rating is fair and of course that everyone will see how good you must be. It's almost a gift... everyone will read the review and wonder what her problem is. Sure, your rating might dip, but she also might revise when she realizes how crazy her rating appears to everyone, including you.

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