Ratings & reviews in context… Read between those lines...
Whilst recently reviewing a few businesses on TripAdvisor I found myself viewing their reviews and, as many of us do, check the lowest reviews first!
What made this a very interesting exercise was the fact that I had firsthand knowledge of the businesses I was stalking. What came to mind was that many of these establishments were being unfairly ‘downgraded’ and receiving low star ratings for no reason of their own or indeed for a bad once off experience by the reviewer. In one case another patron of a particular restaurant took the said reviewer to task about their conduct within the restaurant... this outside person received some sort of support from a barman or waiter. Well without much ado the said reviewer set about emptying out frustration or downright nastiness on the business itself. A single star was assigned to the review and with the click of a keyboard stroke or two downgraded the establishments hard earned star rating. Similarily in another case, a rated establishment was closed on the day the reviewer wished to visit. The person complained on TripAdvisor and gave them a single star.. huh... that's without walking through the door…
Different strokes for different folks:
In my own experience I have a few establishments which are well set on my touring calendar, primarily eateries and accommodators. I pride myself on picking and choosing a good mix of places to stay and places to eat. The tours are primarily about the motorcycle riding but are much more than this single facet. Besides the routes through stunning landscapes on bikes the tours are also about the hours spent off the bikes. Coffee and lunch stops are central to the entire experience as is the overnight places we put our heads down to rest. My personal knowledge of these places or establishments makes all the difference to the entire experience.
Once again, a review of an accommodator which was totally different to my own five-star experience and once again a one star. The reviewer, in this case, had an obvious expectation of television in the room along with other niceties. This spot offers my riders and I an echo experience. Good clean beds and hot showers are always standard, the opportunity to sit in the wild open spaces the Karoo offers and enjoying a night sky most of my guests have never seen before. All whilst enjoying an exceptional braai (BBQ) under a sparkling milky way sky. Some clients think we have high clouds overhead in the evening until their eyes become accustomed to the ‘evening show’ and realise the night sky is so crystal clear and stars are so plentiful like they've never seen before. A deep experience which often brings tears to the eye; something which can simply not be adequately described to another person. Should a guest arrive and turn on his (or her) heel because of the lack of or immediate perception of a lack of 'amenities'... they would simply be losing out on an experience like non other a memory which will last a lifetime.
We, and I most certainly do count myself in, can so easily miss experiences of a lifetime simply by not allowing a certain experience to wash over us. Sometimes we all need to let go and soak in the moment.
Reading between the lines:
When reading a negative review, it must always be considered against and in context with the good reviews. Due South has been very fortunate to have excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. We are blessed to have riders that enjoy the type of touring experience we offer and often gush about it. We try to convey the type of tour we offer via the website. We too however had a negative experience. Several years ago, all our hard-earned reviews (all five star at that time) disappeared. Apparently, at that time anyway (not sure if policy has changed at all), TripAdvisor required that an ‘experience’ must be a ‘day experience’. Most of our tours are over several days. We do in-fact offer day tours, however, it was not adequately reflected on the website at that time (we now have a link on the website for such excursions). Frustrating to say the least, anyway that’s sorted now (whew…).
It’s so easy to ‘hurt’ an establishment, a business and ultimately the people involved with a few clicks of a keyboard. It takes years to gain a reputation in any industry. Once a business opens itself up to critique on TripAdvisor and other similar platforms they are vulnerable to abuse of some sort.
Advice to hard working businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, is that when they receive negative feedback, they should reply to that feedback with an invite to make direct contact to remedy the negative critique in some way. Negative replies by owners to critique is counter-productive, it’s always best to talk to the person who may have the perception of being wronged in some way. Acknowledging all reviews is always good, let your audience know that you are appreciative.
Cheers, Joe & Diana.
Due South TripAdvisor Reviews
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