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!

BED & BREAKFAST • VINTAGE CAFÉ TEA ROOM

The Living Room Drury Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH4 8HA  T 01202 761135

9.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday - Friday

9.00am - 5.00pm Saturday - Sunday 

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E rooms@visitthelivingroom.co.uk

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