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21
Oct

Why I Stopped Reading TripAdvisor

Ok, so you get up everyday and go to work thinking this is the day that every single person is going to leave happy. My customer’s fabulous experience is what I strive for every day. I have a manager who has the same attitude. We serve over 200 people a day so it is no easy task to make all of them happy; but, we try. If you don’t like something, we replace it. If you don’t like where you are seated, we move you. If the music is too loud or too soft, we change it. In short, we try real hard to make you happy.

Most of our customers leave us and tell us they think we are wonderful and the food is terrific. This, of course, makes us very happy. Most of these customers don’t go on TripAdvisor as would be restaurant critics and write reviews. They just return again for another good experience. Over the years, we have become friends and even those folks who live out of town become our “regulars”.

Sometimes, things don’t go perfectly and while we strive for a home run every time, we make mistakes because my cooks are human, my waitstaff is human, my host staff is human. We are not perfect. When this happens we jump through hoops to make it right; but, sometimes you just can’t make it right enough.

I confess, however, that when I read negative and sometimes very nasty reviews, my feelings get hurt. Constructive criticism is good. Like when the time a lady said how much she missed the alligator stew. We had taken it off the menu because it was so labor intensive to make; but, when I heard how much this lady looked forward to having it, I put it back on the menu.

It hurts though when people say nasty things. Sometimes, I even wonder where the person ate because nothing could be as vile as they were describing. I then go to my staff and say “do you remember this incident and this customer”? Sometimes they do and the staff’s version of events is sometimes way different from the reviewers. Suffice it to say that they sometimes report, “Miss Debbie, sometimes you just can’t make people happy.”

Recently a guy went on TripAdvisor to say how dirty my restaurant is. He could not have possibly been here. We scrub our bathrooms every morning until they look and smell fresh. We clean and disinfect our menus after each person reads it. Not many places do that I can assure you. As a customer at other restaurants, the menu clean or dirty is one of the first things I notice. The health inspector regularly comments about how hard it is for him to find things wrong at Flo’s Place. Make no mistake though, he does, because that is his job. We correct any flaw he finds. Like the threshold to the cooler was loose. It was fixed the same day. I am extremely proud of the cleanliness of my restaurant and have regularly taken people into my kitchen to see just how clean it is.

My biggest complaint about Trip Advisor is this. When people post horribly ugly commentaries perhaps they do not realize that they are affecting not just my livelihood and my 35 year reputation but the livelihoods of all of my employees who are quite proud of where they work.

If you are not happy with your experience at a restaurant or anywhere else tell someone so they can fix it. Give them the opportunity to make it right. I can’t imagine any business person in the country who goes to work trying to make people unhappy. We try very hard to make you love us. Give us the chance to fix what you don’t like. Don’t be the person that tries to harm other people with mean words. Words can hurt and can wound. Is that really what you mean to do? Do you really want to cause hurt and pain because of what you perceived was a bad meal? Really? Life’s too short for behavior like that.

Thus, I have stopped reading TripAdvisor. I can’t ruin my day like that. Yes, I have my manager read it and yes, she responds in a last ditch effort to make whatever perceived wrong right. We keep on trying. Everyday is a new day to try and do our best.

Alas, my only advice to Trip Advisor fans: don’t trust everything you read.

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