My Turn for the POOR Trip Advisor Review

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Momma Smurf's picture
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I know am going to get a chorus of this response is way too long and detailed and I should stick to a Boilerplate generic response, but I'm inspired by a great TA response just posted by the Puff   in Inn in nearby Ogunquit to a "Horrible" review.  I feel it's necessary for we Owner's to speak the truth, so here is my rough draft which includes some of their great response:

 

 

POOF! Fair warning, since another poster had just posted her TA response & snippets from the review just recently with lots of responses here, thought it was OK, but Mr. Google identifies her place too with just a phrase or two of what has been posted here.... Thanks for the heads up, y'all.

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Mama, so sorry you are dealing with this.  It is hard, tugs on your very soul. We all work hard to build a great reputation and when someone feels slighted on policies they turn on every aspect of our business. 

I am like you, I want to set the record straight in detail just as the reviewer had done.  It is very hard for me not to write a book but I know it is not in the best use of the valuable space the reviewer has made for me. 

My last response to a bad review went from over a full page down to a few short paragraphs once I edited it as my steam died to a simmer.  I still posted it with too much info, but I am learning. 

I agree that you should take time to read it over and over again as a possible guest.  You don't need details, just facts. 

'we have not accepted b&b.com gift cards for X yrs so would never have said we would.  We believe this guest confused us with one of the many accommodations of her trip and due to that, nothing else seemed to be right'. 

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Actually, Copperhead, this does sum it up very very nicely; am still on the fence.  We get tons of people who point out details of our reviews that don't seem significant at the time.  They really do fixate on negatives: like despite tons of positive feedback on one room, someone said it was dark (on a cloudy day).  So I keep hearing "is X room dark?" even though that review was last summer!  In the past, all my other responses have been long, and I get nothing but compliments from guests who absolutely chose us because they feel we take the time and care enough to set the record straight with an original response.  We have a very high percentage of due diligent TA guests.  I am often amazed what they quote from our reviews.  We have one shot at this and I want to make sure that we pre-emptively cover all bases.

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That's the really odd thing about ta - we have tons of guests say "you have really good reviews!" And never mention our responses.

Reviewers will mention other reviews and things they know nothing about. But not that we responded to other reviews. Not even that it made a difference that we did respond.

A couple of people a few years ago mentioned a scorcher of a review on yelp where they thought my point by point rebuttal left too many questions unanswered. Huh? "What really happened?" was what they asked on the phone or in person.

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Momma Smurf's picture
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Honestly, they tell me that they love the way that I point by point devalue the reviewer's credibility.   So we tend to get lots of guests that match our personalities and casual style wanting to come here...  Most of the time... then there are those super reviewers who simply pick us because we are rated #1, not reading our responses, not realizing we defend our policies ...

Have gone through almost an entire ink cartridge now, passing edits back and forth to Poppa.....

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Momma Smurf wrote:

Honestly, they tell me that they love the way that I point by point devalue the reviewer's credibility.   So we tend to get lots of guests that match our personalities and casual style wanting to come here...  Most of the time... then there are those super reviewers who simply pick us because we are rated #1, not reading our responses, not realizing we defend our policies ...

Have gone through almost an entire ink cartridge now, passing edits back and forth to Poppa.....

But how many are you NOT hearing from/ not booking?

How about a happy medium?   Sum it up quick and simple, then in very few words make bullet items of the things you feel really need to be addressed. 

I know it is hard, as said I am a detail person myself but am trying hard to minimize before I loose the few that actually read!wink

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and here's another point (am often told I missed my life's calling as a lawyer due to my rebuttals)... do I really want guests here that are that judgmental?   We shouldn't be held hostage to TA reviewers, something has to give.  Someone has to have the guts to hold their ground.  (can you tell that I was once upon a time a pioneer woman in corporate America who was told she couldn't become a GM because she had a baby and a new house and then went on to run that corporation's most profitable store?)

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Have pretty much summed it up now in my first paragraph... if anyone wishes to read beyond, it's there.  Part of Trip Advisor's key advice in responding is to use the review as a means to tell more about yourselves and your property. In my rewrites, am taking advantage of that.  The yadayada about our maps tells the guests the lengths we go out of our way to enhance their experience, etc, what they can expect when they arrive here.  The part about our proximity to beaches, etc, continues to be informative and at the same time negates the reviewer.  TA advises us to do this.   I really wish you all would read the recent post by Puff-----in Inn in #gun@quit">O#gun@quit.  You truly grasp who they are AND it is much more detailed than mine.  It most definitely lures the reader in.  I will state this again, savvy TA readers read the negative responses FIRST and make judgments on the response by the innkeeper.

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Momma Smurf wrote:

Have gone through almost an entire ink cartridge now, passing edits back and forth to Poppa.....

Email! No tree killing for this guest! Eye-wink

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TeeHee!  Yup, we are now emailing, cause the printer is all confused!

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Copperhead wrote:

I agree that you should take time to read it over and over again as a possible guest.  You don't need details, just facts. 

'we have not accepted b&b.com gift cards for X yrs so would never have said we would.  We believe this guest confused us with one of the many accommodations of her trip and due to that, nothing else seemed to be right'. 

Perfect!! You have learned well, Grasshopper!

Momma Smurf's picture
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OK, this is why I wait 5 days without replying.

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I REALLY wish you would go into your original post and remove the actual name of the complainer. By leaving it there, you are a bigger threat to ALL of us than any bad review could be. Please, Folks, when posting things think of the fact this is NOT a "closed door session".. Why do you think we put spaces, dashes, etc in words that might logically be used to Go-o something? It protect our innmates. That is why so many INCLUDING YOU MOMMA are anon. I am open because I would never remember who/what I was supposed to be so it is easier to just be me. PLEASE make that change - if possible other places in the thread where it appears also.

I will say this and then shut up - diatribes do not win friends in ANY situation.

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Just a note for anybody seeking some anonymity: Posting the review here, and using her actual user name, sure makes it easy to find the review on TA, and it sure makes it easy for her to find the Innspiring website and read all this.

In fact, I Googled a few words from the review, along with her username, and this Innspiring page came up first, and the review on TA came up second! Google works fast!

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jmj
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oh, yikes, its there. I googled as well now that I was curious. Saw everything leading to the in   n fo  rum.  Thanks for the important heads up. 

jmj
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oh, yikes, its there. I googled as well now that I was curious. Saw everything leading to the in   n fo  rum.  Thanks for the important heads up. 

Momma Smurf's picture
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HERE IS THE ACTUAL 2 STAR REVIEW:

 

 

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I read this post this morning, now I am looking at it again.  I get where your emotions are - we had a similar poor review from a woman who was trying to leave without paying, skipping breakfast,  claiming someone else was supposed to have pre-paid; she complained that we weren't dog friendly (she didn't want to pay the pet fee so she kept her two large dogs in her truck overnight).

But looking at what you wrote from the prospective guest side of the equation, I think your response comes off as a little creepy too over the top.  I suggest stick to one or two key points that a prospective guest will immediately realize sets your negative reviewer apart from them, making the negative review irrelevant. 

What is the real origin of the complaint? The gift certificate confusion.  Say it and drop it.  Everybody knows that when some one goes off for some reason, they will bring up all sorts of trivial b*tchy complaints.  Definitely skip the bit about your friendly dog and badly trained guests.  Skip the "I befriended this needy woman and she turned on me".  Don't dignify the trivia with a response.  It was a money mix up and you did your professional best and that was that.

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 momma - that's awful ....  i'm just thinking about all the arguments maddie and others are getting and why. 

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 i want to throw this into the mix

 if you go to the bed and breakfast dot com website you can easily get confused

you can start a search with places that welcome gift cards

OR

check out over to the right on the search page and click on popular destinations - if i click on your town, maddie, your inn is right there. and i can click through to your website. so even though i'm not seeing that you accept those gift cards, i can see how guests are being misled by that website because there is no big headline saying you don't. just a little logo on the places that do that says 'gift'.  they're making assumptions.  they got to your place via the bed and breakfast dot com website, you must be mistaken that your place doesn't take the cards. voila - angry guests.

i'm assuming this is all set up this way deliberately on the part of the gift card website to push you into enrolling.

that's my guess. 

 

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seashanty wrote:

 i want to throw this into the mix

 if you go to the bed and breakfast dot com website you can easily get confused

you can start a search with places that welcome gift cards

OR

check out over to the right on the search page and click on popular destinations - if i click on your town, maddie, your inn is right there. and i can click through to your website. so even though i'm not seeing that you accept those gift cards, i can see how guests are being misled by that website because there is no big headline saying you don't. just a little logo on the places that do that says 'gift'.  they're making assumptions.  they got to your place via the bed and breakfast dot com website, you must be mistaken that your place doesn't take the cards. voila - angry guests.

i'm assuming this is all set up this way deliberately on the part of the gift card website to push you into enrolling.

that's my guess. 

 

Yes, it's very misleading to the guest! The cards are supposed to come with instructions that tell the guest how to find which B&B's accept the cards but, WHO READS??? I explain it to them. Guests are also told they HAVE to tell the inn they are using them when they make the rez but, WHO READS???

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Madeleine wrote:

seashanty wrote:

 i want to throw this into the mix

 if you go to the bed and breakfast dot com website you can easily get confused

you can start a search with places that welcome gift cards

OR

check out over to the right on the search page and click on popular destinations - if i click on your town, maddie, your inn is right there. and i can click through to your website. so even though i'm not seeing that you accept those gift cards, i can see how guests are being misled by that website because there is no big headline saying you don't. just a little logo on the places that do that says 'gift'.  they're making assumptions.  they got to your place via the bed and breakfast dot com website, you must be mistaken that your place doesn't take the cards. voila - angry guests.

i'm assuming this is all set up this way deliberately on the part of the gift card website to push you into enrolling.

that's my guess. 

 

Yes, it's very misleading to the guest! The cards are supposed to come with instructions that tell the guest how to find which B&B's accept the cards but, WHO READS??? I explain it to them. Guests are also told they HAVE to tell the inn they are using them when they make the rez but, WHO READS???

I do get the calls asking if we take the GC, but tell them no, and why. I also take the time to tell them how to find b&bs that do take it. Of course they are upset because they just spent all that time trying to find just the right place for them and now they can't use their card. I tell them that they need to contact bb.com and complain.

Since I have posted on our website, ResKey confirmation box AND in their e-mail confirmation letter that "The only GC we accept are issued by XYZ inn or Our State Association, I no longer get the folks that whip out the GC when they're here to pay the balance.

It now has been years since I've had any issue with bb.com GC/cards.

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It is true, but she claims that she made the reservation on the phone with me and I told her it was OK to secure the room with her Visa and she would redeem her gift card upon arrival.  No way. Even when we did accept them, I took the number of the Gift card and redeemed it for the deposit ahead a time.  

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I think the non ability to use a gift card has really sent the reviewer into a zone of negativity.

I am of the opinion to not write a detailed response.  Id rather suggest your response be more generically that it is unfortunate that their stay did not meet expectations.  You need to merely say that your Inn does not accept gift cards.  I would thank the reviewer for pointing out any positives about that particular room and add some more yourself that others find good about it. This way this room is not seen in bad light.   I would also address the dog situation as has been suggested.

Its heartbreaking when this happens but tomorrow is another day and a chance to be with happier guests.

 

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The gift certificate situation is a real pain. We've had guests show up with them in hand and get very upset when we went accept them.

I had one woman say, "why else would I stay in this place if it wasn't going to be free?"

Guests argue on the phone with us, cancel their reservations, it's ugly.

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I'm sorry this happened to you.

Regardless of whether or not you pare down your response, I encourage you to revisit the paragraph about your dog. I'm a dog person so I understand what you're saying but some people might read it as an out-of-control (untrained) dog has free run of the inn. I realize that's not the case but it's best to be succinct and clear on the point.

Perhaps something along the lines of "I'm sorry our dog disturbed you. Even though he's hypoallergenic, small and friendly, we don't allow him into guest rooms, though some guests would like to invite him in."

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Thanks Happy Jacks.   Our problem is no matter what we do or tell guests, almost everyone adores our dog and they keep letting him into their rooms.  We've even had them fighting with each other over who gets him.  Seriously. 

 

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 i know you want to post a long response - you want to get all your points across.  whatever you do, just make sure that first paragraph says what you really want prospective guests to read, straight away, because those first lines are what people will see. 

also, i recommend not using ALL CAPS. maybe you can bold that text about the gift cards or bold and underline ...

 

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No bolding on ta. You can use caps but ta tells you not to.

I'd suggest putting that in a separate paragraph.

The other thing I've noticed with ALL of my responses lately is that all the paragraphs are erased. It's one big block of text. No formatting at all. I put paragraphs in to be sure, but they get formatted out by ta.

I'm not sure why that doesn't happen on everyone's replies but it does on mine.

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Madeleine wrote:

The other thing I've noticed with ALL of my responses lately is that all the paragraphs are erased. It's one big block of text. No formatting at all. I put paragraphs in to be sure, but they get formatted out by ta.

I'm not sure why that doesn't happen on everyone's replies but it does on mine.

you can do this to be extra sure it doesn't happen

.

i do this on another place

.

that tries to delete my formatting (and turns it into a giant paragraph)

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Madeleine's picture
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Thanks! That's a great suggestion!

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Yeah, I know CAPS are a no-no and would prefer bold, but am not sure that TA allows for that.  This line needs to be emphatic.

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Yes, her review was unwarranted. You can say that in a shorter response. What do we say over and over here....people don't read, people don't read, people don't read.

If you want prospective guests to actually read it, then make your points short, but valid.

I'm like you, I want to spell everything out. Something upsetting happened recently and I retold it here on the forum. Of course, at length. Later that day, DH did a post on his FB page and his description of it was about 20 words and he nailed it! I just can't condense it like he can, but that's what's needed in management responses.

I'm sorry you had this self involved guest...sometimes they are so frustrating we can't help but feel abused by them.

 

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Yes, people do not read our policies etc, because they have no juice. I tend to skip over positive TA reviews and read the negative reviews and responses entirely. I believe my point is made in the very first paragraph, so if they don't read further nothing is lost.  Her review is Very long..  Am trimming my response a bit, but not much.

Madeleine's picture
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I didn't realize you were so close to the cliff walk! I've probably walked right by your place!

Momma Smurf's picture
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We are up the hill from the hidden "hobbit hole" end.  As I say, if we could just scoot down there as the crow flies, it would be about a six or seven minute walk ... 500 yards.

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Sorry this happened Smurfs.

You already know my response, you said it in the first line.

Don't fight fire with fire. If you clarify we have never accepted B&B GC's then say it, and say we are sorry the guest was "Disappointed" 

As human beings we have a need to set wrongs right. We are hurt by rotten reviews (personally and financially). Yes they do impact us, so how we respond makes all the difference.

May I ask a favor? May I ask that you read your entire response out-loud verbally say every word from start to finish and see if you feel this is the best method. It sounds like you are correcting her and fighting a battle with a guest, I don't think that is your intention. She is well traveled, she has a lot of contributions. If it were me, I would step back and think about it a bit more.

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Thanks JB.  Am not posting this today, will let it set after more feedback here.  Poppa has read it and likes it and does not think we are correcting at all.  Simply stating the truth.  Again, I strongly believe that is our mission.  I really don't feel at all bad about this review, in fact, shared it with all our guests at the breakfast table yesterday, who thought it was ridiculous.  Even though she has tons of contributions, this was unwarranted and maybe she'll think twice the next time she considers giving someone a Poor rating.  We have tons of great reviews, so I feel that our side has as equal weight and value.

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Of course, you have more than equal weight and value. We know that.

It is still her opinion, and you can't change that, she won't care if you write a response, and I know you are hoping it will be for future guests to read. She was obv mad and went to town on you, that is what it sounds like when you read it (her review).

 

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oh, and I forgot, we suddenly got a 4 night cancellation for that exact room last night... we've been lucky this year with hardly any cancels, so I do feel the necessity to set the record straight.  It is affecting our business. 

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I think you did a great job responding to her review and I don't see a problem with it being so long.  I recently put a long one up because I wanted to be sure to respond to all of her remarks and let others know the reason why we can't have a giant TV hanging in the handicap room - - because the poor wheelchair bound guest might smash their head rolling by!!!  And that we drove over 2 hours to spend $1000 to buy more chairs so more guests can now sit around the fire pit as the chairs were full when she was here and wouldn't use ones on the deck.  So put up what makes you feel comfortable and don't worry about how long it is, some reviews deserve a long response.  Really not liking being an innkeeper this week ……...

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Thanks MtnKeeper.  I am feeling rebellious and think that if more Owners took the time to write a point by point rebuttal, these vindictive reviewers would be less likely to post and be exposed.  Any reader who would take offense to our response, is not the kind of guest we want here anyway.

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Not sure these vindictive types will ever stop posting as they're mostly just doing it to be mean, but it lets the next guests have both sides of the story.  So sick of second guessing ourselves because of these jerks when were awesome and 99% of the guests agree and say so.  

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Btw, Puff in's response was even longer.  If more Owner's tell their side in detail, more reviewer's might become a bit more hesitant to leave distorted facts, if they know their reviews are going to be torn apart.

 

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Momma Smurf wrote:

Btw, Puff in's response was even longer.  If more Owner's tell their side in detail, more reviewer's might become a bit more hesitant to leave distorted facts, if they know their reviews are going to be torn apart.

 

It's not just telling your side of the story but making it clear that the review is a spiteful, unwarranted retaliation for a mistake or problem caused by the guests themselves. .

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Thank you Highlands John!  After 9 years, we're not gonna take it anymore!

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Momma Smurf wrote:

Thank you Highlands John!  After 9 years, we're not gonna take it anymore!

Absoluelty.... and I think your average guest reading the reviews will respect you all the more for it.

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I could, but her review was lengthy in itself and very pointed.  I have posted other lengthy management responses and am often told by guests that  use TA that they chose us because we took the time to and cared enough to respond to a bad review instead of just a simple standard brush-off.  AND they enjoy reading our responses in the entirety. 

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Have to echo Maddie here.  Saw the length first thing then put off reading till much later.  Too much detail.  Likely will only be read by nitpickers. 

 Agree with those who say you are not writing for the reviewer, but to sell to people who haven't met you yet.  It is clear you strive for a good guest experience.  Let that be the impression, rather than a blow by blow.

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Anon Inn wrote:

Agree with those who say you are not writing for the reviewer, but to sell to people who haven't met you yet.  It is clear you strive for a good guest experience.  Let that be the impression, rather than a blow by blow.

Right answer.

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You can still make your point by editing the length a bit.

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