There’s been a hilarious story floating around the UK media for the last couple of days about Duncan Bannatyne wigging out over a negative review that has appeared on TripAdvisor for one of his hotels. The review compared one of his hotels to something out of Faulty Towers.
I’m not sure if you’ve seen this or not yet but I saw the following stories on various papers in the UK over the last day or so:
The story seems to be that Mr Bannatyne has taken offence at the Faulty Towers negative review and that he thinks is from someone looking for a refund or a free meal or something. As a result, he is up in arms and threatening to take legal action against TripAdvisor. He also is quoted as saying that review sites bully small businesses and hoteliers as well. Really!
TripAdvisor have responded robustly saying that they do not and will not respond to ‘bullying’ themselves.
I believe that review sites can help consumers make informed choices and many, if not all, people don’t rely on a single site, recommendation or review when making a decision. I think they can also help smaller businesses, particularly hotels, from expanding their reach and audience ie. great places will get talked about and reviewed thus spreading their reach, audience and potential customer base.
One of the main points that Duncan Bannatyne was making was that he believed the complaint was disingenuous. But, is it not a reality of business that you will always get someone who wants to or tries to game or scam the system?
Gaming the system has always been around. There has always been people who have chanced their arm or played their luck. That’s why there are complaint management processes to protect against that.
Remember M&S’s money back promise on clothes….that’s been around for years and people still try and game it.
However, one flaw of many of the review sites, that I do agree with (and Mr Bannatyne makes this point too), is the ability to post anonymously as that can lead to spurious and scurrilous remarks. The review site then has no ability to monitor where the comments are coming from, their veracity, if someone is consistently complaining as part of a personal strategy and to stop scamming and spamming.
Perhaps the review sites need to get to know their customers better and put better control systems or moderation in place.
But, Mr Bannatyne’s approach and remarks have still surprised me. Complaining about complaints? That seems like a great use of time and resources, particularly when the largest weight of comments on TripAdvisor for that hotel are overwhelmingly positive (85% in favour)!
Should the focus not be on solving or addressing the complaint.
In the end, I think Mr Bannatyne has to realise that things are changing in business, that nothing is perfect, not everyone will like you and sometimes there will be people that may try to game the system. Just because someone has a problem or complaint or is trying to play you, your actions in response to that will speak louder than any words.
It’s a social world and becoming more so. Using (social) media to leverage your celebrity to shout about something that you don’t agree with may not be the best way to get there results that you want.
I think Mr Bannatyne needs to think about what impact his actions are having on his brand and the brand of his hotels. Think about it this way. If that’s how he treats complaints, will that scare customers off, will it make them think twice about staying at his hotels? Finally, shouldn’t customers be able to share their thoughts with the world…free speech, liberty, democracy and all of that?
In this increasingly social world the game of business is changing, it is becoming more social. I would suggest that Mr Bannatyne gets used to it.
What do you think?
Thanks to www.jeremylim.ca/ for the image.