Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on Promotion, Reviews, and Blog Readers

I have never been a fan of Trip Advisor. Now, dissed by a Memorial Day client, I like this site even less.

The couple stayed in our Green Room. The reviewer describes the rug as “well-worn.” Maybe it could do with a trip to the cleaners but the colors, beige and green, are perfect with the wallpaper and add to the feeling of serenity, which most Green Room guests appreciate. These lovely ladies from England, for instance, here last week for four days, loved the Green Room. Miranda and Jane wrote in the guestbook, “Has been enchanting. You’ve made us feel very welcome, a true home away from home.”

Our Memorial Day couple also took issue with breakfast. They wanted it more “wholesome.” Actually, the wife requested almond butter and toast, so that’s what she got, along with fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt, all organic, standard fare at Chez Sven.

The reviewer states, “the B&B was much less of a value than other B&Bs we've visited on Cape Cod.” Trip Advisor lists the rate as $150-$180. The rate, in season, is actually $200/night. Holiday weekends are the same as summer. These folks came the night before Memorial Day, so they had the Green Room one night for $150, which is what similar-category B&Bs charge.

Fourth negative comment: the couple reported that the photos on our Web site do not reflect reality, and singled out, in particular, the kitchen. Dan Cutrona spent a day taking the photos. We live in this house and use the kitchen and living room, so that’s why they look “lived in.” That’s the whole point of choosing a B&B over a hotel, to get a peek at the life the innkeepers lead in a specific community.

And, the couple had seemed to be enjoying themselves. That's what was so surprising to me. Did they realize how writing such a review might impact my business? Could they have been unhappy because a sister, who had later tried to book separately for Memorial Day weekend, did not get a room?

I was still digesting the nastiness when there came a knock at the door. A blog reader named Tim stood outside. He had contacted me earlier and asked if he might stop by to say hello. I explained my recent discovery of the Trip Advisor review and said that I was still smarting from it.

“Oh, don’t let that bother you,” laughed Tim,, a successful sports writer from New York City. Tim said he reads Chezsven Blog faithfully every day. He was accompanied by his toddler son Nicholas, and wife Stella, who works at HBO. They like Wellfleet so much that they are thinking of buying real estate here.

We all know how resilient writers need to be when it comes to criticism. I’m great at criticism of my writing, but I don’t like erroneous information being posted on a reference site that affects my bottom line. Tim and Stella sympathized.

We discussed the beaches and restaurants.

“Mac’s Shack? Overpriced,” he opined. “$32 for a piece of halibut, I mean, come on!”

We didn’t know each other but felt as if we were already friends due to our shared appreciation for this special town. Of course, we also have Chezsven Blog in common. What’s more Tim and Stella are Springsteen fans, and I HEART Springsteen fans.

Five and a half years ago, I started writing a blog as promotion for the B&B, but my blog has morphed into so much more. Although Chezsven Blog is about being a green innkeeper and living on the Outer Cape year-round, Wellfleet is really the star, not me or Chez Sven. This was the third time I have had a visit from a blog reader. Tim and Stella thanked me over and over for my daily updates on life here and, by the time they left, I felt a whole lot better about the Trip Advisor review.

What do you think about Trip Advisor? Do you let yourself be swayed by one review if it is substantially different from the others? Blogs are often touted as "platform" for writers. Do you think a good blog really serves to promote the writer? Why do you read this blog?