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Basil Fawlty

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Basil Fawlty here. I guess I'm behind the 8 ball on this one. I just discovered that Facebook and Tripadvisor have a new interactive link - and I just forgot the name. Sigh. Tripadvisor is not my favorite thing to put it mildly, but the review trend is now a permanent part of the culture at large. So, how to manage reviews? In my old business (my husband and I are actors and directors) there was a saying, "Everybody's a critic". Now, literally, everybody IS a critic. Protected by anonynimity, not held to any kind of accountability standard, people are encouraged to voice whatever comes in to their heads, objectivity and veracity be damned. This is constitutionally protected (tracts and diatribes circulated against polititians and candidates in the late 18th century in our new democracy curl your hair! Goodness, the things they all wrote against each other in the New Media!!) - I quite understand, but how does one deal with it all?? I know this is actually an older topic for this forum, but - Trip Advisor has now gone viral, if it wasn't already, with its new Facebook app.
In my seven years in this business I feel as though the instant review system has fundementally changed the relationship of innkeeper and guest. Instead of implied mutual trust, there is now hovering over the encounter a Reviewers Sword Of Damacles that both parties are accutely aware of. Or maybe I just need to take a pill and grow up, toughen up and take the stance that By God This Is My Product and I Am Proud Of It. Still, that's not the same as an open and hearty Welcome to my Inn! True hospitality is replaced by a kind of wariness and that isn't good for either party. Gee, maybe I just need to see a Hospitality Therapist - but this forum is no doubt more profoundly helpful!!
It's funny, but when I work as an actor in the theatre (I'm currently in a production at ACT in Seattle) I have learned over 35 years to "carry on" with my performance no matter what the thousand or hundreds of - instant critics in the audience may think. I deliver my product, as it were and folks are free to like it or not.
It's different, however when they are in your house!!
Thanks for any feedback, ideas, opinions, techniques for dealing with review-itis!
Basil
 

Don Draper

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I feel your pain Basil. But FWIW, the "viral" nature of TA is, I believe, actually past its peak. Two years ago people were literally making decisions based on the reviews written. Now enough of the scams and non-accountability of the TA system have been exposed in the main stream media that travelers know better than to take anything at face value. As with anything else, simply keep doing what you do best and don't beat yourself up about the critics (sort of like what you're already doing with your acting).
And two years ago I would have agreed with your assessment about the innkeeper/guest relationship. But now I think it only goes the way of the mistrustful relationship if we let it. When guests ask us about TA or other review sites, we tell them the truth...we don't read them. There is absolutely NO WAY that anyone in the world could be a harsher judge of our own work than we ourselves are. We put our best foot forward every day, and at the end of the day that's what we hang our hat and our reputation on. Sometimes people don't end up liking the place they chose to stay. There's nothing we can do about that.
 

Alibi Ike

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Go with your initial instinct to just be yourself and offer a great product at a fair price.You can't be anyone you're not (for any length of time anyway), so why not be yourself?
"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out." And that's all we can live by. If we are going to live in fear that we'll get a bad review, maybe the way we were living before wasn't how we should have been.
And that quote applies to the guest reviewers as well. With anonymity, how they behave is a reflection on themselves.
 

gillumhouse

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I do not even think about TA. IF I get a good one (had an absolutely fabulous one recently) great, but if I do not so what? True I am in Podunk, small, and unfortunately, no other B & B really close but I am not going to allow anyone else to run MY business. My stage is much smaller than yours, but it is my stage and I am the producer, director, cast, and "angel". The "Show" has been playing for 15 years and I expect it will for a few more under the current theater company. As things stand at the moment, I cannot hand over the curtain to the replacement cast until my DH reaches room temp (he hates change and his props occupy so much territory that a perspective new cast would take one look, scream, and run away. Basically we are talking sets including wardrobe, dressing rooms (dorm style, not private rooms), orchestra, and props for Sound of Music, King & I, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Oklahoma crammed into the smallest stage you have ever experienced.
Treat TA the way you do a reviewer who panned your production on opening night as you prepare for your 100th performance to a packed house.
 

Joey Camb

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The only thing that really gets my goat is when they say how nice a time they have had to your face and then give a bad review why lie? just don't say anything ie goodbye we are going now.
 

Generic

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
 

Don Draper

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
 

Generic

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
 

Joey Camb

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
 

Generic

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
 

Alibi Ike

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
.
I sent out a survey to my guests and that was the one comment we got back that surprised me...not enough food. We have 12" dinner plates and I'm hard-pressed to find any space on them for a garnish! Plus the fruit course. Plus the juice and coffee and tea. (Mostly surprised because a lot of guests tell us they never ate lunch, they were still too full. And we do throw out enough to make me wonder if we should cut back a tad.)
I refuse to 'pile it on'. And I never ask if someone wants seconds. Give it a chance to reach your stomach and you'll realize you ARE full! Yes, we go for flavor, not quantity.
 

Alibi Ike

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
.
Eric Arthur Blair said:
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak.
The only opinion that counts is the opinion of the diner. If there is a misunderstanding as to what someone is eating, the restaurant should work to ensure that does not happen. Now if you think, as the restaurateur, that it separates the wheat from the chaff to confuse your diners, then you'll get exactly the clientele you deserve. If, on the other hand, you make it your goal to educate your diners, you'll get a better class of clientele because you will have helped them understand your vision.
As far as paid food critics? They are the ones pushing food to be unrecognizable as each restaurant vies to be noticed for something outre.
I know lots of guests love trying wild concoctions at B&B's but our market is 'comfort food' and 'home cooking' (generally understood to be what your dear old ma served before she had to go get a job to support the family). We have been thanked for keeping the food recognizable. And anything that strikes the guest as 'over the top' (tomatoes on top of the eggs???) can be omitted for that guest. Sure, it's then not the same meal, but the diner is the final arbiter of what they want to eat.
 

Generic

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
.
Eric Arthur Blair said:
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak.
The only opinion that counts is the opinion of the diner. If there is a misunderstanding as to what someone is eating, the restaurant should work to ensure that does not happen. Now if you think, as the restaurateur, that it separates the wheat from the chaff to confuse your diners, then you'll get exactly the clientele you deserve. If, on the other hand, you make it your goal to educate your diners, you'll get a better class of clientele because you will have helped them understand your vision.
As far as paid food critics? They are the ones pushing food to be unrecognizable as each restaurant vies to be noticed for something outre.
I know lots of guests love trying wild concoctions at B&B's but our market is 'comfort food' and 'home cooking' (generally understood to be what your dear old ma served before she had to go get a job to support the family). We have been thanked for keeping the food recognizable. And anything that strikes the guest as 'over the top' (tomatoes on top of the eggs???) can be omitted for that guest. Sure, it's then not the same meal, but the diner is the final arbiter of what they want to eat.
.
First, I am talking about the restaurant reviews on TA, specifically, not B&B reviews when I talk about food. Look, I live in a foodie city. We know the restaurants. The list on TA is good... but it's really weighted oddly. Certainly what is at the top in my city... doesn't belong there. Good restaurant, but great? Nope.
I guess this is one of the areas where I might have to disagree. It's not trying to confuse diners, but the difference in language and frankly in expectations. We serve less food on the plate and have a lot less industrial food. We don't have very many large chain restaurants. We've had a lot of them try... maybe we should have a cemetary for them.
For example, in the US I have ordered scampi only to be served shrimp. But here, scampi aren't garlic butter shrimp.... we call that garlic butter shrimp. It is a lobsterette, Dublin prawn if you prefer. So, if I order scampi and get garlic butter shrimp and I complain in a review, am I right or wrong?

Also in the US an entree is main course, in the rest of the world, it is an appetizer (from the French word for "to enter".) So if you order an entree around here and complain about it being small... well, it's supposed to be.
French butchers cut the meat very differently. You can't get a brisket. It doesn't exist. It's not a French cut of meat. But a bavette is. It's a flank steak. But flank steak isn't cooked like a steak, that would make it tough. How about tartare. How many people order a tartare and send it back to be cooked? If you order pea soup around here, it will be yellow, not green. And how the heck do I even explain to you what creton is, never mind how to tell if it is good or not.
What if you were looking at the menu and say ris de veau. Some might jump to the conclusion that it's riz (rice) with veal mistakenly and not veal sweetbreads, which also is a confusing name for thymus or pancreas, which many people won't eat.
Then there is the question of if you can really know if a food is better at one place than another. For example, the local dish of poutine, if you are eating it for the first time, you will know if you like it, but does that make you good enough to tell if it's the best around or it's the worst? I know if I like a key lime pie to my personal taste, but can I tell if it is actually extraordinary? Nope.
I've seen my share of reviews of local restaurants that make me want to hit my head on the wall. One man complained that his meat sandwich wasn't cut thin enough... except that he was used to the meat made in the dry method, which allows it to be cut by machine. This restaurant used the old fashioned wet method and the meat therefore had to be cut by hand. Is he right? It wasn't what he wanted, but the restaurant served exactly what they are know for, just not what he expected. So does that make the food bad?
 

Basil Fawlty

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
.
Here, here. I've resorted to reading Diana Rigg's great book about bad reviews: "No Turn Unstoned". As in "a turn on the stage" -
Hilarious and heartening. Famous, genius talents like Sir Lawrence Olivier and Dame Judith Anderson garner some of the worst reviews I've ever read! All of it silly and subjective of course.
One wonders whether TA will ever realize it may be killing its own medium! I guess tenacity, perseverence and kind, skillful rebuttles are the best defense?
 

Basil Fawlty

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Well, as many people already have seen, there is a good side and a bad side to TA. In particular, we had one review that was obviously tainted by the person's personal hatreds. We read them, we often send personal thank you notes to people. We ask many of our guests to be so kind as to write something nice for us on TA. Part of the weighting is related to how new the reviews are.
To be honest, it's a double-edge sword. But to be honest, we don't get our best customers from TA. In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA..
Eric Arthur Blair said:
In fact, we sometimes get our worst customers from TA.
This is exactly what we found during the peak of the craziness over TA, 2009 or so. People walking in the door talking about I read this and that on TA...and then looking at you every second to see whether or not you were living up to that expectation and some of them even hoping that you'd do something wrong.
As an innkeeper I reserve the right to make a special connection with a guest and do something above and beyond nice just for them. If they choose to go write about that, then I have other people walking in wondering why they aren't getting the same thing. Takes all the romance out of it!
.
I've had a few who read about a specific breakfast on TA and ask me to prepare it. Breakfast is seasonal... you are getting what is seasonal, no special requests like that.
Now that some twit wrote that I'm too chatty, I now have some guests who avoid me. What's too chatty? "Have a good day. Do you know where you are going? Need help?" They wanted the damn anonymous hotel thing, not a B&B and now... it's part of my reviews.
Oh and the fool that had no sense of humour who wrote a review. What it doesn't say is that he was demaning and condescending the whole time he was here. He demanded espresso (not included with breakfast, it's our private machine.) He never asked, he demanded. And he would make condescending cracks for the three days that he was here. I took them all with a smile and on the chin. His problem... happened on day one, but he hated our hospitality so badly... he stayed for three. His spouse wanted to take her luggage and bounce it up the stairs, on my 125 year old staircase. And after all that, he entirely misrepresents the story on TA.
To be honest, I had great guests from TA when I was moving up the list. Near the top, they aren't the same.
.
Think people are getting more cynical about trip adviser as most of the people I have spoken to say they have a look and read at least 10 reviews as they know some people are just gimps that like writing bad reviews. They also seem to understand that big hotels fake reviews and to spot that if the review is too good then it is probably fake. That's something anyway.
.
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak. (Bavette is a flank steak, but it's a particular specialty of French bistros). And to be honest, I have the "French" food discussion with guests endlessly. Some days it just drives me batty. We aren't French... just because we speak the language, doesn't make us France.
Locally, the restaurant that is at the top of the list is certainly not the best restaurant in town. And a few names down are two bakeries that don't serve food, they don't have a restaurant licence. Many people just can't tell the difference. We have had one review talk about quantity... and how food was bland. But here we are about quality over quantity and if you are eating commerical food you are eating so much salt that everything non-commercial is bland. Others have talked about horrible service at restaurants, but local service is about leaving you alone to enjoy your meal and talk, not to be over you, fill your glass and get you out of the seats. So what a local might think is great service gets panned in TA because the person's expecations are different.
.
Eric Arthur Blair said:
There is also the fact that having laymen write reviews leads to so many misunderstandings. As someone on TA said, how do you expect an American to write a review of a bistro that serves them a "bavette à l'echalotte" when the English menu says that it's a steak.
The only opinion that counts is the opinion of the diner. If there is a misunderstanding as to what someone is eating, the restaurant should work to ensure that does not happen. Now if you think, as the restaurateur, that it separates the wheat from the chaff to confuse your diners, then you'll get exactly the clientele you deserve. If, on the other hand, you make it your goal to educate your diners, you'll get a better class of clientele because you will have helped them understand your vision.
As far as paid food critics? They are the ones pushing food to be unrecognizable as each restaurant vies to be noticed for something outre.
I know lots of guests love trying wild concoctions at B&B's but our market is 'comfort food' and 'home cooking' (generally understood to be what your dear old ma served before she had to go get a job to support the family). We have been thanked for keeping the food recognizable. And anything that strikes the guest as 'over the top' (tomatoes on top of the eggs???) can be omitted for that guest. Sure, it's then not the same meal, but the diner is the final arbiter of what they want to eat.
.
First, I am talking about the restaurant reviews on TA, specifically, not B&B reviews when I talk about food. Look, I live in a foodie city. We know the restaurants. The list on TA is good... but it's really weighted oddly. Certainly what is at the top in my city... doesn't belong there. Good restaurant, but great? Nope.
I guess this is one of the areas where I might have to disagree. It's not trying to confuse diners, but the difference in language and frankly in expectations. We serve less food on the plate and have a lot less industrial food. We don't have very many large chain restaurants. We've had a lot of them try... maybe we should have a cemetary for them.
For example, in the US I have ordered scampi only to be served shrimp. But here, scampi aren't garlic butter shrimp.... we call that garlic butter shrimp. It is a lobsterette, Dublin prawn if you prefer. So, if I order scampi and get garlic butter shrimp and I complain in a review, am I right or wrong?

Also in the US an entree is main course, in the rest of the world, it is an appetizer (from the French word for "to enter".) So if you order an entree around here and complain about it being small... well, it's supposed to be.
French butchers cut the meat very differently. You can't get a brisket. It doesn't exist. It's not a French cut of meat. But a bavette is. It's a flank steak. But flank steak isn't cooked like a steak, that would make it tough. How about tartare. How many people order a tartare and send it back to be cooked? If you order pea soup around here, it will be yellow, not green. And how the heck do I even explain to you what creton is, never mind how to tell if it is good or not.
What if you were looking at the menu and say ris de veau. Some might jump to the conclusion that it's riz (rice) with veal mistakenly and not veal sweetbreads, which also is a confusing name for thymus or pancreas, which many people won't eat.
Then there is the question of if you can really know if a food is better at one place than another. For example, the local dish of poutine, if you are eating it for the first time, you will know if you like it, but does that make you good enough to tell if it's the best around or it's the worst? I know if I like a key lime pie to my personal taste, but can I tell if it is actually extraordinary? Nope.
I've seen my share of reviews of local restaurants that make me want to hit my head on the wall. One man complained that his meat sandwich wasn't cut thin enough... except that he was used to the meat made in the dry method, which allows it to be cut by machine. This restaurant used the old fashioned wet method and the meat therefore had to be cut by hand. Is he right? It wasn't what he wanted, but the restaurant served exactly what they are know for, just not what he expected. So does that make the food bad?
.
Brilliant. Ever see the Dutch film, "Babette's Feast"? Two simple, pious Dutch women take in a French refugee from the Paris commune of 1871. I can't tell the plot, but the French woman turns out to be...
Food, community, love, and - cultural suspicion play out in a moving, beautifully shot (oh, the Cuisine!!), and uplifting story...
I think it got good reviews. Mostly.
Basil
 

Basil Fawlty

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The only thing that really gets my goat is when they say how nice a time they have had to your face and then give a bad review why lie? just don't say anything ie goodbye we are going now..
Yes, that is deeply wierd. It's the personal connection in our business that makes the testy reviews all the more irksome. I wonder: where are they in their lives? But not for long. I have to prep breakfast. Sigh.
 

Basil Fawlty

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I do not even think about TA. IF I get a good one (had an absolutely fabulous one recently) great, but if I do not so what? True I am in Podunk, small, and unfortunately, no other B & B really close but I am not going to allow anyone else to run MY business. My stage is much smaller than yours, but it is my stage and I am the producer, director, cast, and "angel". The "Show" has been playing for 15 years and I expect it will for a few more under the current theater company. As things stand at the moment, I cannot hand over the curtain to the replacement cast until my DH reaches room temp (he hates change and his props occupy so much territory that a perspective new cast would take one look, scream, and run away. Basically we are talking sets including wardrobe, dressing rooms (dorm style, not private rooms), orchestra, and props for Sound of Music, King & I, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Oklahoma crammed into the smallest stage you have ever experienced.
Treat TA the way you do a reviewer who panned your production on opening night as you prepare for your 100th performance to a packed house..
HA! That's GREAT! The Show Must Go On! You're a hit!!
ox,
Basil
 

Basil Fawlty

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I feel your pain Basil. But FWIW, the "viral" nature of TA is, I believe, actually past its peak. Two years ago people were literally making decisions based on the reviews written. Now enough of the scams and non-accountability of the TA system have been exposed in the main stream media that travelers know better than to take anything at face value. As with anything else, simply keep doing what you do best and don't beat yourself up about the critics (sort of like what you're already doing with your acting).
And two years ago I would have agreed with your assessment about the innkeeper/guest relationship. But now I think it only goes the way of the mistrustful relationship if we let it. When guests ask us about TA or other review sites, we tell them the truth...we don't read them. There is absolutely NO WAY that anyone in the world could be a harsher judge of our own work than we ourselves are. We put our best foot forward every day, and at the end of the day that's what we hang our hat and our reputation on. Sometimes people don't end up liking the place they chose to stay. There's nothing we can do about that..
Well said, absolutely spot on, and I am going to take this post and all above to heart.
Good grief, many thanks everyone, for taking the trouble to sort this one out. I gotta say the perspectives really help a lot!!
Basil
 
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