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Nasty review on TA: what would you do if this happened to you?

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Surfside

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Hi Everyone! Just joined INNspiring and looking for some help. We are fairly new to the business (purchased an exsisting Inn last spring), have gone through our first summer a year ago and it looks like we are still having fun. Lots of hard work, but it pays off when the guests leave happy. Trying our best, however, sometimes goes unnoticed by some guests who came to the Inn because of the Previous Owners. It is obvious that we cant make everyone happy, but it looks like this one got really upset about ownership change.
At arrival they were shocked to see the PO not there anymore and mentioned they kept coming back because they enjoyed their company. We had a chit chat, everything as usual, they seemed normal, had their dinner and were gone the next morning. Dinner was a three course meal and our waiter asked them how the food was a couple of times throughout the dinner and they said it was great. Then they get back home and write this review on TA, claiming that the food we served them "was definetely not fresh and the fish had terrible smell", so "do yourself a favor and have a dinner in H. instead"! My DH was quite heartbroken, since he is a chef that prepares all the meals and we both know the fish was bought the same day it was cooked. So what they claim to be a fact is not truth. The nasty part is that they worded it in a way for others to think we serve food poisoning to happen, and of course thier opinion has nothing to do with them preferring PO to us.
We only found out about the review recently (it didnt come up right away) and I am planning to write the management response, but am not sure what to write. I really want to put the truth on a table, but want to stay away from going for half a page and be sore. How would you respond to something like that? Thank you everyone.
 

gpacurar

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I would respond by saying how bad you feel that their meal didn't meet their expectations. Let them know that the inn makes a point of securing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and in fact, the fish you prepared for them was purchased fresh that morning. I wOuld mention that if they had brought it to your attention that evening, you would have prepared something else for them. Offer them something on their next visit.
 

EmptyNest

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Keep it short and sweet. Don't get defensive, apologize if they had a problem and suggest you would have made it right if they had just said something to you. People understand and get past negative reviews if there are a majority of positive ones and that the mgt response is professional.
 

Surfside

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I would respond by saying how bad you feel that their meal didn't meet their expectations. Let them know that the inn makes a point of securing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and in fact, the fish you prepared for them was purchased fresh that morning. I wOuld mention that if they had brought it to your attention that evening, you would have prepared something else for them. Offer them something on their next visit..
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. But I also know they reason they didnt say anything at the dinner is because everything was alright with food itself. The only expectaition they had was a previous owner cooking it for them, and this is exactly what we could not give them. I am pretty positive they will not come back, even if we offer something to them. We have had other repetative guests since we took over, and this is the first time in a year and a half that we loose a client because of their loyalty not to the place but to the onwers...It is just sad to see they want to take others with them using sucha a manner.
 

gillumhouse

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I think I would also include when you took over the inn so it can be seen that two of the previous excellent ratings were on your watch. I would not offer anything on their next visit, just state you are sorry they did not tell you their expectations were not met and allow you the opportunity to satisfy their expectations.
 

Alibi Ike

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Short and sweet on the mgmt reply. Stick to the facts: all meal ingredients are hand-selected by the chef (off the boat if you do that), cooked with an eye to pleasing the palate and presented with discernment. Throw in that your servers are all trained to inquire as to the guests' enjoyment of the meal and nothing was said to ANYONE at the time the meal was served, after or when they were checking out. You're sorry the guests did not enjoyt their meal and you wish they had mentioned something at the time so you and your team could have handled the guest's complaint immediately.
Write the response and then sit on it for a day so you can read it again when you're calmer. If you have to, write a really scathing response (not online!!!) to get it out of your system and then write the one you're going to post. The one that shows you are an excellent innkeeper.
BTW, I think TA rules say to not mention another establishment when reviewing the one they ate at.
Try to get some newer guests to write reviews as you are new owners. It always helps to get some fresh reviews up there.
 

Joey Camb

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was it an unusual fish? ie not what they were used to? fishy smell? what did they expect it to smell like? turnips? Said you were nice though. Whatever you do write it and then leave it for a couple of days then come back to it don't rush to publish as then changing it is tricky. Say how you pride youselves on local produce, husband is chef, shops locally from merchants. This can be an opportunity to promote your place as I would not be impressed with the opinion of people who can't even spell would be more interested in the response as your other reviews are good.
 

Joey Camb

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Short and sweet on the mgmt reply. Stick to the facts: all meal ingredients are hand-selected by the chef (off the boat if you do that), cooked with an eye to pleasing the palate and presented with discernment. Throw in that your servers are all trained to inquire as to the guests' enjoyment of the meal and nothing was said to ANYONE at the time the meal was served, after or when they were checking out. You're sorry the guests did not enjoyt their meal and you wish they had mentioned something at the time so you and your team could have handled the guest's complaint immediately.
Write the response and then sit on it for a day so you can read it again when you're calmer. If you have to, write a really scathing response (not online!!!) to get it out of your system and then write the one you're going to post. The one that shows you are an excellent innkeeper.
BTW, I think TA rules say to not mention another establishment when reviewing the one they ate at.
Try to get some newer guests to write reviews as you are new owners. It always helps to get some fresh reviews up there..
exactly what you just said!
 

Don Draper

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Firstly...I"m sorry you're having to go through this. I truly wish upon every single person who's ever written a negative TA review that they have to feel 1/100th of what we as owner/operators feel to read their harsh (and often untrue) words. They just don't get the effort and pride we put into everything that we do.
Also, take heart that they obviously found you and the facilities still top notch, they say several nice things. In your response I would thank them for those comments, state how sorry you are that they didn't enjoy their meal, and how you wish they'd brought it to your attention right then so you could have brought them something else. I just never understand someone complaining about food after they LEAVE the restaurant! Passive aggressive much?
 

Alibi Ike

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I would respond by saying how bad you feel that their meal didn't meet their expectations. Let them know that the inn makes a point of securing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and in fact, the fish you prepared for them was purchased fresh that morning. I wOuld mention that if they had brought it to your attention that evening, you would have prepared something else for them. Offer them something on their next visit..
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. But I also know they reason they didnt say anything at the dinner is because everything was alright with food itself. The only expectaition they had was a previous owner cooking it for them, and this is exactly what we could not give them. I am pretty positive they will not come back, even if we offer something to them. We have had other repetative guests since we took over, and this is the first time in a year and a half that we loose a client because of their loyalty not to the place but to the onwers...It is just sad to see they want to take others with them using sucha a manner.
.
Surfside said:
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. But I also know they reason they didnt say anything at the dinner is because everything was alright with food itself. The only expectaition they had was a previous owner cooking it for them, and this is exactly what we could not give them. I am pretty positive they will not come back, even if we offer something to them. We have had other repetative guests since we took over, and this is the first time in a year and a half that we loose a client because of their loyalty not to the place but to the onwers...It is just sad to see they want to take others with them using sucha a manner.
We had this the first 2 years we were the 'new' owners. Guests would call, make a rez, get their confirm (with new names on it) and cancel. Or they would show up, be STUNNED that the PO's did not tell them they were leaving (everyone thought the PO's were their new best friends) and then critique us (out loud) in comparison with the PO's. The PO's let us..., the PO's did this..., the PO's did that...(including a few people who told us the PO's washed their cars!)
It was unnerving at first, but we persevered and lost the guests who loved the PO's (where did they go? we don't know) but gained our own group of guests who like our style. It's attrition. Sorry it is happening in such a blatant fashion to you.
 

Surfside

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was it an unusual fish? ie not what they were used to? fishy smell? what did they expect it to smell like? turnips? Said you were nice though. Whatever you do write it and then leave it for a couple of days then come back to it don't rush to publish as then changing it is tricky. Say how you pride youselves on local produce, husband is chef, shops locally from merchants. This can be an opportunity to promote your place as I would not be impressed with the opinion of people who can't even spell would be more interested in the response as your other reviews are good..
Nope, it was your regular fresh salmon, baked in the oven. Not even frozen, brought right from the market. Three other couples had it as well, everyone happy, DH says it was as fresh as you can get. I guess he was the one who took it very close to heart, but we are done with emotions now and just want to have it over with by writing a proper response. Lots of great ideas, thank you to those who answered.
 

Alibi Ike

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The reason to be short and sweet is that no one has the attemtion span of a gnat any longer. If you go on for half a page (no paragraphs, just one sentence after the other) the guest will read the first 2 lines and then move on thinking you're covering up something. Or that you never shut up. And you'll trap them in a corner and make them listen to you go on and on and on about anything.
 

seashanty

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welcome welcome
oh my, that review is unkind
sugar coated nastiness with a bite at the end.
absolutely write a response
we are sorry you did not realize the inn had changed hands; we have had many wonderful guests since taking over the inn on (whenever it was)
we were surprised to read that you did not enjoy your meal. we so wish you had told us during dinner. (name) is a chef and bought the fish that morning; he would have gone back to the market with your complaint.
...
did other guests have the same meal? if so, i'd mention that the other guests enjoyed their fish and that perhaps it was just their portion.
whatever you write ...
set it aside and wait a few days before posting ... also, take a look at some other management responses to reviews for those that feel right to you.
and come back to the forum!
 

Surfside

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Short and sweet on the mgmt reply. Stick to the facts: all meal ingredients are hand-selected by the chef (off the boat if you do that), cooked with an eye to pleasing the palate and presented with discernment. Throw in that your servers are all trained to inquire as to the guests' enjoyment of the meal and nothing was said to ANYONE at the time the meal was served, after or when they were checking out. You're sorry the guests did not enjoyt their meal and you wish they had mentioned something at the time so you and your team could have handled the guest's complaint immediately.
Write the response and then sit on it for a day so you can read it again when you're calmer. If you have to, write a really scathing response (not online!!!) to get it out of your system and then write the one you're going to post. The one that shows you are an excellent innkeeper.
BTW, I think TA rules say to not mention another establishment when reviewing the one they ate at.
Try to get some newer guests to write reviews as you are new owners. It always helps to get some fresh reviews up there..
Well, TA really does not care much about small B&B's and Inn's, does it? I contacted them because I too thought it was not proper to have another place advertised in a reivew (there is only one place to eat in H., we are rural and wild). But their reply was to keep the review and that the decision is final. We have nothing against the other place, they are local too and I think it is good to support local businesses, I just wish others realized that too.
 

Surfside

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The reason to be short and sweet is that no one has the attemtion span of a gnat any longer. If you go on for half a page (no paragraphs, just one sentence after the other) the guest will read the first 2 lines and then move on thinking you're covering up something. Or that you never shut up. And you'll trap them in a corner and make them listen to you go on and on and on about anything..
100% agree

 

JBloggs

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Welcome to the forum!

At least it is not ONE bubble to bring your rating down totally. That is the only good thing I could say about it.
If you respond, pls keep it short and simply and to the point, we are sorry we did not meet your expectations, we strive to make all of our guests happy, thank you for the review.
Please oh please reply to the reviewer and not the public like "these guests simply did not understand...or these guests are not telling an accurate story..."
I know that is hard to write, and not try to CLEAR UP their comments, but we can't make people think the way we do, so show the HIGH ROAD in your review. You will be glad and others will read it and like the way you handled it.
 

Surfside

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I would respond by saying how bad you feel that their meal didn't meet their expectations. Let them know that the inn makes a point of securing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and in fact, the fish you prepared for them was purchased fresh that morning. I wOuld mention that if they had brought it to your attention that evening, you would have prepared something else for them. Offer them something on their next visit..
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. But I also know they reason they didnt say anything at the dinner is because everything was alright with food itself. The only expectaition they had was a previous owner cooking it for them, and this is exactly what we could not give them. I am pretty positive they will not come back, even if we offer something to them. We have had other repetative guests since we took over, and this is the first time in a year and a half that we loose a client because of their loyalty not to the place but to the onwers...It is just sad to see they want to take others with them using sucha a manner.
.
Surfside said:
Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. But I also know they reason they didnt say anything at the dinner is because everything was alright with food itself. The only expectaition they had was a previous owner cooking it for them, and this is exactly what we could not give them. I am pretty positive they will not come back, even if we offer something to them. We have had other repetative guests since we took over, and this is the first time in a year and a half that we loose a client because of their loyalty not to the place but to the onwers...It is just sad to see they want to take others with them using sucha a manner.
We had this the first 2 years we were the 'new' owners. Guests would call, make a rez, get their confirm (with new names on it) and cancel. Or they would show up, be STUNNED that the PO's did not tell them they were leaving (everyone thought the PO's were their new best friends) and then critique us (out loud) in comparison with the PO's. The PO's let us..., the PO's did this..., the PO's did that...(including a few people who told us the PO's washed their cars!)
It was unnerving at first, but we persevered and lost the guests who loved the PO's (where did they go? we don't know) but gained our own group of guests who like our style. It's attrition. Sorry it is happening in such a blatant fashion to you.
.
Oh my...washing the cars?!! Should we be making their breakfast at the same time, too?!..We didnt get this just yet
It is harsh, but we are working hard to build our own group of guests, as well as keeping the old ones. Thank you for sharing your experience, we all learn from each other.
 

Surfside

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welcome welcome
oh my, that review is unkind
sugar coated nastiness with a bite at the end.
absolutely write a response
we are sorry you did not realize the inn had changed hands; we have had many wonderful guests since taking over the inn on (whenever it was)
we were surprised to read that you did not enjoy your meal. we so wish you had told us during dinner. (name) is a chef and bought the fish that morning; he would have gone back to the market with your complaint.
...
did other guests have the same meal? if so, i'd mention that the other guests enjoyed their fish and that perhaps it was just their portion.
whatever you write ...
set it aside and wait a few days before posting ... also, take a look at some other management responses to reviews for those that feel right to you.
and come back to the forum!.
Thank you for a warm welcome! I had been reading the forum for a while and got lots of useful information from here. Great source, supporting people, truly a relief on a tough day. Yes, other guests had the same fish, from the same cut and there was no smell or complain. Do you think I should mention that or it would be too much? I dont want to accuse them of lying...not for them but for the sake of readers.
 

Surfside

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Welcome to the forum!

At least it is not ONE bubble to bring your rating down totally. That is the only good thing I could say about it.
If you respond, pls keep it short and simply and to the point, we are sorry we did not meet your expectations, we strive to make all of our guests happy, thank you for the review.
Please oh please reply to the reviewer and not the public like "these guests simply did not understand...or these guests are not telling an accurate story..."
I know that is hard to write, and not try to CLEAR UP their comments, but we can't make people think the way we do, so show the HIGH ROAD in your review. You will be glad and others will read it and like the way you handled it..
Thank you! You are absolutely right about replying to the reviewer.
 

seashanty

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it's tempting to say no other guests complained, but probably not the best approach to be accusatory.
just make it short and sweet and take the high road.
that's why it's best to write your response and then sit on it for a while.
 
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