Criticism in B&Bs
Criticism is essential to any B&B business. It doesn’t matter whether it is right or wrong, true or false what matters is how you process and deal with it. The hard part is not taking it personally, which is difficult as B&Bs reflect an owner’s sense, taste and style of hospitality. How can you not feel the slightest bit offended?
Even if the criticism is purely citing personal preferences, critiquing unavoidable aspects or just plain vindictive. You must find a positive spin otherwise you will have sleepless nights.
When I first opened for business criticism was given in two methods to my face or not at all. Thanks to TripAdvisor the private has been made public, making it even more impactful.
When I got my first public negative review I felt very hurt. I agonised for hours over Why? How? What? I kept writing and re-writing a response and then asking friends and even a guest who was a lawyer to read it. It was traumatic to say the least.
I was so focused on how it made me feel rather than what was being said that I missed the opportunity to see how I could improve, even if it was only a small improvement.
Since, I have found that anything can come under criticism, such as location, room size or narrow hallways etc. I tend to ignore this type of criticism and trust in the good sense of readers to understand they are not changeable.
All other forms of criticism fall under three categories:
Customer Interaction – staff, host
Amenities – rooms, bathrooms, décor
Business Procedures – cleaning, supplies
I have found that by separating the different critiques made I am able to process the negative feelings quicker but also efficiently implement improvements.
I give my guests the benefit of the doubt as they spend more time in my rooms then I do. I also rationalised that although I may not agree with the criticism I must take the time to reflect on the points made. So here is what I make sure to do
- Read all critiques at least twice
- Carefully note any valid points
- Assess my rooms with the guest in mind
- Plan on how to make changes where appropriate
All the above is great for dealing with non-personal criticism. However, a public execution of one’s character is a tough pill to swallow. My first public review was such a critique and it still makes me wince to this day.
I personally feel a B&B owner should always respond to this type of criticism especially if it is in public. These are the steps I go through when writing a response online:
Write Angry. Edit Calm – I write a draft, expunging my immediate emotions. I then leave at least 24 hours, before re-reading and writing it again.
Keep it Professional – State facts. Avoid any form of personal attacks. Keep the tone neutral and your words to the point. Don’t feel the need to justify yourself or business.
Still Unsure? Or your first time writing a response? Get a second opinion from a trusted source before pressing publish.
I also find one of the best cures for a criticism hangover is to read all the lovely reviews from past guests to remind myself why I do what I do and as one of my guests said recently – hospitality is a happy industry – and I completely agree with her.
Til next month, Sally