Rick Steves is a US travel writer and TV personality.
As the summer season winds down in Europe, exhausted B&B owners are no doubt promising themselves a well-deserved break – hopefully one spent tallying up increased profits thanks to the excellent weather that the UK, in particular, has enjoyed.
Of course even a good summer brings with it all the usual stresses, problems and experiences with the occasional rather, uh… “special” guest. So if you’re anywhere close to being able to put your feet up, why not take a look at the website of travel guru and all-round good guy Rick Steves. As before, we’ve cherry picked some of the greatest comments from his “graffiti wall” section, where travellers rave about just how great European B&B owners (that means you!) really are. It’s inspiring stuff and just the thing to pep you up if you feel like the recent high-season months have left you wilting somewhat…
In a welcome change from all the woes that review sites like TripAdvisor sometimes cause for B&B owners, travel guru Rick Steves has created a great section on his website called “Heroic B&B Friendliness.”
Rick is an American author/television personality and a well-known “Europhile”. He is the host of the Public Television series Rick Steves’ Europe, has a public radio travel show, Travel with Rick Steves, and has authored various location-specific travel guides focusing on European travel. “Heroic B&B Friendliness” is basically a “praise-only” bed and breakfast review page, where Americans who have stayed in B&Bs and guest houses from Ireland, to the UK, to France, to Italy celebrate those great experiences.
The comments are truly inspiring to read. Here are a few of the 2013 ones…
Google are warning business owners, including hotel and B&B owners, that “fake glowing testimonies” written by reputation management companies on Google+ Local pages will be taken down.
Google+ Local used to just be called Google Places. It’s essentially just normal Google search with a location slant. These local search results appear anytime an online user combines a search item with a geographical modifier, i.e., “B&B York.” The results appear as a listing and as pins on a map. They are sorted by their relevance, which is determined by how close each B&B is to your current location when you search.
One of the issues we return to time and again on theBandBer is online reviews. They’ve come to dominate the thoughts of many accommodation providers. The good ones give you a warm glow. The bad ones keep you awake at night. The fake ones send you into a rage.
When we first started covering this topic, there was relatively little good, consistent advice out there on how best to respond to feedback on review sites like TripAdvisor and various social media channels. With this in mind, we’ve frequently tried to offer helpful tips ourselves, in order to bring some clarity to the issue.
You may remember us mentioning a while back that the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency ordered TripAdvisor to remove the phrase “reviews you can trust” from its homepage. After many frustrating years for hotel and B&B owners, the issue of authenticity does seem to be getting more mainstream attention.
Now, one of the largest hotel companies in the world is taking matters into its own hands, by verifying all (unmediated) reviews on its own sites against a database of actual bookings.
Every B&B owner knows that the world of online reviews in a complex one, fraught with possibilities and anxieties in equal measure. Some accommodation providers have been given a terrific visibility/sales boost by excellent online feedback. Others (like this one) have suffered from malicious fake reviews. And some have tried to game the system by creating fake reviews of their own.
A former hotelier and now a specialist in online reputation management, Daniel Edward Craig is always astute and articulate. In a recent guest article for Hospitality.net, he raised the interesting issue of whether or not coming first in your local area on TripAdvisor is necessarily always a good thing. It could, of course, mean that your B&B is – like Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way. But it might also mean that it’s… well, a bit too much of a bargain.
In what may be described as a very qualified victory, a B&B owner in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has won the right to sue TripAdvisor in his native country for allegedly publishing fake reviews.
Back in August, it was reported that Richard Gollin, owner of the Baile na Cille B&B on the Isle of Lewis, had launched a small claims action at Stornoway Sheriff Court over what he said were ‘false and malicious’ criticisms. Mr Gollin claimed that these ‘fake’ criticisms had cost him valuable bookings of around £2,000 and that TripAdvisor had ignored him when he asked it to remove some postings. The guesthouse, officially rated on TripAdvisor as “#1 of 1 Timsgarry B&B and Inns” in Timsgarry, Lewis, currently has 58 reviews, 37 of which rate it as “excellent.”
Back in 2010, a UK reputation management firm called Kwikchex launched a campaign against TripAdvisor for publishing allegedly libellous anonymous reviews about hotels. In particular, it has been working with the Advertising Standards Agency to demonstrate how unverified reviews sites can be abused. However Tennessee judge recently ruled that there was no defamation caused by TripAdvisor including the Grand Resort, Pigeon Forge on its 2011 “Dirtiest Hotels” list: “It does not appear to the Court that a reasonable person could believe that TripAdvisor’s article reflected anything more than the opinions of TripAdvisor’s millions of online users.”
As reported by EyeForTravel, there was a big marketing, mobile and social media conference (read: digital bun fight) held in Amsterdam the other day. Attendees included four of the world’s biggest travel brands: Disney, KLM, Expedia and the Wyndham hotel group. They talked about how to get customers to your website and how to encourage them to book direct with you. Some of what they said was couched in the usual dismal marketing-speak (e.g. your website should be “platform and browser agnostic”, which just means that it should work on mobiles and different types of browser, like Firefox and Chrome.)