The Thick of It


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The attack of the Trip Advisors

Last night's Channel 4 documentary the "Attack of the Trip Advisors" showed a ranged of disgruntled businesses who felt unfairly treated by customer review sites.

This probably strikes a chord with politicians who frequently complain about media attention, some fairly, sometimes not so. Social media has increased the intensity by widening the scope of people who comment and hold both businesses and politicians to account.

Recent complaints about the media from politicians include Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Liam Fox.

Hoteliers and restaurateurs complaining about social media review sites publicly airing criticism of their businesses strikes me as rather out of touch. In the past people would have had no redress if they didn't like the service. Now they can stop others from suffering the same fate. It also gives businesses more opportunity to rectify problems because they get feedback they wouldn't otherwise have had.

Hotels, restaurants, shops or politicians should be no different from each other. Feedback and being held to account should enable you to become stronger, offer a better service, closer to what people actually want.

For people in positions of authority, or business owners, social media can seem like the extension of the surveillance society. I'm sure there are unfair or unrepresentative reviews, just as there are in any situation. For the bigger brands and well known politicians there tends to be a critical mass where those that offer a good service tend to be highly regarded online. Those with customer service problems tend to suffer negative sentiment.

The hotels, restaurants or banks that tend to get it right tend to get good reviews. Most reviews are positive, with an average Trip Advisor score of 4/5. Politically most blogs are partisan, with each side attacking the other and defending their own.

I don't have a problem with it and I don't think anyone else should. All of those under scrutiny need to get with the times.

1 comment:

Sinclair Dunnett said...

Mr McLoughlin:
You make the rather astonishing comment that
"In the past people would have had no redress if they didn't like the service"
- all you do is speak to the establishment at the time! In 2010 my wife & I had a meal at Trentham Gardens (English Midlands). The waitress asked us once if we were enjoying the meal; I was non-committal. A second time she came back and this time I said I was disappointed; the dish was very bland. When I went to pay, I was told my meal was free - I wasn't looking for this, but it made a good impression.
At a business forum here in the north of Scotland there was a speaker about the "social media" who told of someone who had an experience he didn't care for at (I think) an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh. He got home and wrote a negative review on TripAdvisor. The restaurant invited him back and he was happy with the next meal and (I think) now wrote a +ve review - but why didn't he ask to speak to management on his first visit?
I realise these sites are here to stay but some post libellous comments to which service providers have no practicable redress.
Sinclair Dunnett
(Tour Operator for > 30 years)