News from The Living Room
Part of writing a blog is giving a flavour of who we are as a business, what makes us tick, what drives us and is at the core of our soul!
We are all familiar with the saying ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.’ The modern addition is ‘and don’t write it on social media.’ But the joy of hospitality is that every customer is bombarded to write reviews. There is a certain…power…to it.
The joy (and that is of course a grateful ‘joy’ not a sarcastic ‘joy’, believe that and you will believe anything) is working in a low paid, long hours’ industry with the highest review culture. Those cute little fluffy kitten YouTube clips may be the most popular but in this industry unfortunately there is a minority who seem to have an image of man eating lions with gnashing, drooling jaws stained with blood as they take to the pen…
The impact of watching all those cute kittens is unfortunately only momentary, as we know, the quirk of the human psyche receives criticism with greater impact than praise or neutral comments. In short we give greater weight to negative reviews rather than positive ones – born out by the ‘helpful votes’ on Trip Advisor. As well as how we feel after we read one!
We are always happy to help people feel more ‘fluffy and cute’ so we have decided to shift the negative focus of some of our more, shall we say, challenging reviews.
Because of our late arrival from London and watching England’s first match in town then on to a club and a racially motivated incident occurring,resulting in reporting it to the police so got back to double room at 6am. Checkout was 10am, which through tiredness and stress, was overshot. Staff were not particularly understanding but suppose that is there policy. Cab fare of ten pounds also added to expense as slightly out of easy accessiblity at umsociable hours. Also as a result missed breakfast.
What the reviewer meant to say (although it was a female name and only men stayed, interpret that as you will!) was –
Thank you for waiting up for us to arrive because we wanted to watch the match in London. We really appreciated the fact that you dealt with the unexpected appearance of the Police during breakfast because we wouldn’t answer our phones to them. Thankfully you kept the rest of the guests happy and calm while you spoke to them and we had a lie in. It was really kind of you to allow us to stay in our rooms two hours over departure time, sorry that your cleaner then had to wake us up and you had to pay her to wait for us. We were grateful that you then let us hang around in the hallway for ages and one of us charge our phone in the corridor – all without discussion or acknowledgment. It is just such a shame that the delicious smells coming from the kitchen were making us hungry but I suppose you always want what you can’t have.
My husband and I decided to pop in for breakfast this morning and all the tables for two were either right next to the door or in the doorway so we decided to sit at a table for three next to the sofa. As we went to sit down the waitress told us that the table is for more than two so therefore could not sit there. I could have understood this if it was busy but it wasn’t and there were plenty of tables available. I’m absolutely disgusted with the way we were treated and definitely won’t be going back or recommending to my friends!!!! I fear for your longevity in this area.
What this reviewer meant was –
Thank you for waiting patiently while we played musical chairs making our minds up where to sit. It was understandable for you to ask that if we sat at a larger table would we mind moving if a group came in as we could see you only have eight tables and it was getting busy. We realise that there were other tables for two away from the door but they were not to our taste. Sorry that my husband so rudely responded in front of other customers saying ‘well if you don’t want our custom then forget it’ and then stormed out. As my husband works for the bank that supports your business and was in fact in the business development department we realise what hard work it is running your own small business and totally understand it is important to use reviews to be honest and genuine to help businesses grow. What a lucky coincidence!
Didn’t really enjoy breakfast please don’t put rocket on a cooked breakfast it just not right.
What this reviewer meant was –
Thank you for putting rocket on my breakfast. I really appreciate the fact it brought up some unresolved anger for me and therefore helped me to release my deep rooted issues about rabbits. .
I am absolutly disgusted with this place . I had booked my my friend and i to go for afternoon tea there today , my friend has a terrible life threatening desease [ see theorie of everything film ] and i have no idea what has happened to her , but she was driving from her house in Winchester and didnt turn up at my house . I cannot get her on her mobile either . It is extrememely unlike her not to call if she cant make it . Anyway Ive called the Living room today , having booked a Living social voucher , and they refuse to extend the time i can use it [ ive paid already ] as im off to Canada tommorrow for 3 weeks , by which time the voucher would of run out . No Customer service skills here !!!!. I run my own business and am absolutly disgusted at their attitude .
What this reviewer meant was –
As a business owner myself I realise that voucher systems are difficult to manage as people buy them months before and often forget they are due to go out of date. It was, therefore, very kind of you to fit us in at the last minute because you already had a large number of bookings due to many others suddenly realising the date was due to expire on that very day. You patiently dealt with my constant phone calls all afternoon to say I would be late and then as you were due to close me phoning to ask to change the date. I was so lucky to then be going abroad for three weeks. I understand many other people would have also liked the opportunity to extend their voucher after a holiday let alone have a holiday (particularly being able to leave their business for three weeks) but I would say to them ‘you can’t have it all.’
Just come back from a weekend trip staying at this B&B it’s clean and a nice room bed was comfy bathroom was very small but clean and your sink is in your bedroom nice area to stay but would maybe stay somewhere else next time nearly 200 pounds for 2 nights in a B&B was very expensive I thought for a basic room you have to be quiet because it’s like being in a bedroom at home not impressed😕
Thank you for being quiet whilst moving around the hotel especially when guests are asleep such as when you returned late from your concert. It is great that you totally understand our concept of being homely. We like it when guests make the most of our extra facilities such as the honesty bar which resulted in increasing your bill to nearly £200. It was lovely when you left that you made the effort to be positive saying you will definitely come back and then took the time to write the following in the Visitors Book – ‘Had a great stay thank you. Was made very welcome. Will come back.😕
My personal favourite review gave the staff high marks but cleanliness, breakfast and such like was apparently very average. So I now will show my gratitude for it making me laugh.
Thank you dear reviewer for missing breakfast each day due to your hangover – it boosted our profit margin which always cheers me up. It was also really kind of you to stay in bed all day because you were so hungover as it saved on our cleaning wages. But an especially huge thank you for covering up the fact you had vomited in the bin. It took us ages to work out where the smell was coming from as you had kindly taken out the bin bag whilst being sick. It was so thoughtful of you to then put it back in the bin covering the vomit – maybe part of your training for working as a Nurse for the NHS? Such consideration is rare.
The truth is that our gratitude goes to the guests, the absolute majority who make the place so genuinely friendly, warm and humorous. Not one of the reviewers above said anything to us, no complaints, no negatives, no feedback which is why it becomes the natural path to focus on the negative – it feels personal because you have no chance to resolve anything or give a context, the lion pounces and draws blood before you know it!! And you can’t help wondering why. But we are genuinely customer focused, I’m not saying we are everybody’s cup of tea or even the best thing since sliced bread (we all have our off days where we are a sandwich short of a picnic). Our solution would be a review site for customers. We could focus on all our amazing guests, all the people who come back here time and time again but woe betide the guest who ruins the experience for others! As the dad getting his three child out of the car in M&S’s car park just said – ‘come on guys let’s try to remember to be human’.
Thank you to all our truly fabulous guests!
Part of writing a blog is giving a flavour of who we are as a business, what makes us tick, what drives us and is at the core of our soul. So to give you an insight into our minds, if you were a fly on the wall, you would learn that our most impassioned subject is … dog fouling. Yes, literally any kind of dog mess. We are not impassioned by any particular kind – it all drives us into a rant. Any kind that has been allowed to happen on OUR grounds. In the week of a controversial budget potentially leaving the vulnerable vulnerable and the ever growing world of atrocities we still revert back to horror whenever we walk outside and find a ‘present’. We rant and rave and then argue whose turn it is to clear it up. And this is how we fight all our power battles – the weakest clears the mess. Maybe this is the same the world over – in partnerships, businesses and Governments?
Dog mess, as a contentious issue, can lead to all sorts of philosophical debate and psycho analysis at The Living Room. What kind of person allows their dog to excrete on someone else’s land? To take this even further what kind of person saves their dog mess and carefully places it on our path because we wouldn’t let their dog in? And then how do they psychologically benefit from showing off to the neighbours that they proudly left it there? Have people got no respect? Would they like it if we sent a human to do the same to them? What is happening in the world? And so we go on…
And then we move on to our heroes, for example, the person who camouflages themselves and stakes out in the bushes to report the offenders. Or my dad – who became so fed up with a customer constantly letting their dog mess in front of his shop door that he put it in a bag, followed them home and put it through their letterbox. The National Trust poster below shows how emotive a subject it is even for a whole society. Or my brother in law who bought a pair of shoes from ebay that had dog mess on the bottom. When he complained the seller said ‘what do you expect for that price?’
So this is who we are deep down. A team so angered by dog fouling that it brings us together to create a stink. It decides our power battles. It makes us question humankind. It stirs our primal emotions of anger, disgust and surprise. To us it’s simple – you own a dog. It eats. It poos. You clean it up. As our neighbours tree poster succinctly reads …
In the meantime, if you visit us not only do you now have an insight into what ‘makes us tick’ but you will also know who is in control of the business by which one of us always gets away with not cleaning up the dog mess! Or more like which one of us is delusional enough to keep claiming they were the last to clear it up so it is not their turn!
So as its New Year we are following the tradition of looking back over the past year. Our most significant event in 2015 was our very own screening on Channel 4’s Four in a Bed, equal we are sure to the long awaited Star Wars screening. Much to the amusement of our customers, bemusement of ourselves (we still haven’t been able to face watching it) and entertainment of voyeurs Zak got his 15 minutes (plus a bit extra) of fame. But in the words of Han Solo – Zak decided to ‘play the great kid, don’t get cocky’.
Zak, not usually known for his extrovert behaviour took the high road and showed his diplomatic and reasonable side to the nation – not usually obvious working alongside his mother but it’s nice to know it exists! His game plan was ‘to be fair’ and ‘nice’ – has his mother taught him nothing about playing games? So while Zak flounced around in his new wellies milking cows – bought as part of his no holds barred TV wardrobe – his mother was left holding, and scrubbing, the fort.
We were second to be filmed. On returning back from the first location shoot, along with the camera crew, he was confronted by a rather heated discussion with our cleaner which wouldn’t have proved a consistent business approach, let alone game plan, to being diplomatic or reasonable especially as the cleaner was being sacked.
The tension was palpable.
The scene was set.
The cameras poised.
The Bet lynch lookalike ‘contestant’ arrived and silently declared war. Although she didn’t know I was the joint owner, meaning I overheard her on the telephone insisting she was ‘playing fair’ unlike the others. Did she mistake fair as delusional? As Obi Wan Kenobi would say ‘Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.’ She nicely played up to the role of scapegoat and ‘baddie’ as presumably chosen for her at production stage – some people never learn! She left us pondering on a follow up programme ‘Four Leaving the Bed’. Despite the apparent hairs, cobwebs & yellow stuff she planted, sorry we mean found, upsetting her to the point of deeming us such poor value pay that she felt compelled to underpay she clearly didn’t find it upsetting leaving the room strewn with false eyelashes, corn plasters, lipstick on the window (was she kissing her reflection?) and chocolate smeared on the bed (well we hope it was chocolate). I suppose when you are busy pointing the finger you can’t use them to pick things up.
Customers always ask, ‘Was it worth it? Would you do it again?’
Well, Zak gained some admirers. Customers popping in who only wanted to speak to him. Giggling girlie anonymous phone calls that his mum had to listen to! Lovely messages of support. And TV critic Twitter fan @auntiepegg who labelled his face on TV as …’a right dish!!!’ Of course we didn’t get any mileage out of that!
Did good triumph over evil – well no. We were joint third with the baddie because Zak was fair and paid the full price or over!But as Ahsoko Tano said, ‘This is a New day, a new beginning’. And we don’t need TV to know we were actually the best!
Are Shoes the Window to Your Soul? (If so I’m in trouble!)
Today our larger than life guest Desmond was reading news about an £800 pair of sneakers. He asked if my shoes had cost that much because they were ‘rather groovy’. I suppose they are quite groovy but definitely not 800 pounds’ worth. There’s the saying about being comfortable in your own shoes. Taking it literally I might well be but our customers aren’t always as comfortable.
Apparently I have frog shoes.
I look like I’m in a pantomime.
And was even asked if I wake up in the morning with the thought of ‘what shoes can I wear today to look stupid in front of the customers.’ Some might just call that customer service.
But there is the odd customer, well not literally – heaven forbid we would ever think of any of our customers as odd – who is as tough as old boots and also dares stand out from the crowd. Take Krishan, owner of Thrive @ http://thrivechiropractic.co.uk..
He doesn’t care what people think of his barefoot shoes.
Admittedly we shake in our boots when he walks in but that’s not from laughing at his footwear, more due to his diva demands. Maybe it’s true that shoes are the window to your soul. Maybe being confident to be different explains why he has to always order food that isn’t even on the menu. Why he then relishes in extravagantly announcing to other customers that they too can order whatever they would like, going so far as to make his own personal recommendations. (A list which generally includes my own secret food.) We can’t help but succumb to his offensive charm, sorry, we mean charm offensive, all in the name of customer service and never, no never through gritted teeth!
Research claims that shoes serve a practical purpose and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. For example, practical and functional shoes belong to agreeable people. Attachment anxiety can be shown by those who always have brand new or well-kept shoes as they worry what others think of them. Liberal thinkers really do wear scruffier less expensive shoes. So what about our B&B guests who wear their novelty slippers to breakfast? Well we don’t really like to judge our guests because we always aim to put ourselves in others shoes. But what we do think is that it’s amazing the guest feels so comfortable and at home that they are free enough to eat breakfast wearing a cuddly animal head or whacky cartoon character on their feet. So good for them!
And as Dr Seuss in Oh, The Places You’ll Go says, ” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you can choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
We hope your shoes will bring you here rather than walk on by, the crazier the better (shoes not you)… but be warned – shoes CAN broadcast your deepest secrets…