Wednesday 11 December 2013

Ruth Watson Means Business

Ruth Watson's new series 'Ruth Watson Means Business' is currently showing on Channel 4. Although the series is not solely focused on hospitality over half the twelve programmes feature hotels.

So why are we blogging about it?

Because - unlike recent series like the Hotel Inspector on Channel 5 (who sometimes seem to go out of their way to find 21st century equivalents of Fawlty Towers), these hotels only have one problem: negative reviews. The hotels are all well-run (given their respective markets), but they aren't perfect (is any business?) and of course they get some adverse feedback. Here's the hotel from episode 5, Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire:

After going through their complaints with the hotels, Ruth takes the reviewers back to see how the hotel have taken them on board.

The core comments that were repeated by every hotelier was how seriously they took negative reviews; how personally they took them, and how much they affected their businesses.

While some of Ruth's suggestions (that breakfast for wedding parties was separated from that for other guests, for instance) were valid, we think that there is a deeper issue at stake here, which is having control over communications with your guests. All of the hotels would have gained more direct feedback and been subject to far less negative reviews if they were using a system like Dialogue. As Ruth says on her blog: "You'll always have the cowards and bullies [who will hide behind anonymity]." But reasonable guests will use Dialogue rather than posting to TripAdvisor.

Interestingly, one of the guests was challenged by the hotel's marketing director: 'Why did you post a review online, rather than ask to speak to management?' her answer was 'That's what we do these days'. We're sure she would have been more than happy to post her review, and a have the hotel's response, through Dialogue.

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