Fairview Homestead | The room is fine, but…
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The room is fine, but…

I once sat in a meeting targeted at accommodation providers and the speaker twice repeated the words: ‘We can not allow ourselves to become too precious about our B&B’s’. Well, It took all my self-control not to shout: ‘if your B&B is not precious to you, you should not have a B&B.’ A fellow guest house owner argues that our B&B’s are so personal to us that we often take criticism about as well as we would if we were told that we have an ugly or a naughty child.

Over the years I have acknowledged to myself that I have a love-hate relationship with TripAdvisor. I mean, who does not like to read guests gushing about the lovely breakfasts that you cook them, about the cleanliness, about the old-fashioned hospitality, the personalized service, and care – all the things that have become synonymous with staying in a B&B or guest house. If I read the messages of appreciation in my guestbook, I often wish the guest would have taken the time to write that on TripAdvisor as I have a feeling that TripAdvisor reviews have become more influential than the effect of the South African star grading system.

Of course, as guest house owners we have to step back and take to heart whatever criticism or suggestions come our way and do something about it if we can. Last December I had a man complain about the mattress. This is the same good quality mattress that other guests have complimented us on in the past, so I knew that his complaint could not possibly have anything to do with the mattress. Just to buy myself some time to figure out what the complaint could be about I asked him what kind of a mattress he slept on at home – his answer: a futon…

The other day we were at a restaurant and with the bill came a little notice that read: ‘If you ‘like’ tell TripAdvisor. For improvement tell us.

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Social Media having gained the importance in our lives that it has also means that a ‘like’ on your guest house facebook page becomes as important as it is for a child to get a gold star on the forehead from Teacher. This week I asked my facebook contacts to ‘like’ my page as I wanted to reach  100 ‘ likes’. What fun – I got messages from people I had not spoken to for years, I even got a ‘like’ and a message from a friend of a friend: On behalf of my “buddies” Helen and Andries – I just “liked” your page!! No doubt you will sail past the 100.  Berni, I ‘like’ you right back. Another guest had a bunch of flowers delivered! I may only be number 8 on the TripAdvisor popularity list, but I feel liked –

thank you.

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Philda Benkenstein
benkenstein@mweb.co.za

In 1995 we moved from Namibia to a town called George on the Garden Route in South Africa - we found a wonderful property,first registered in 1861. The place was very neglected, but I undertook to start a guest house, so that the house could at least pay for its own upkeep after the restoration, and of course - for Desmond's garden. That is the start of my life as a guest house owner and this is the story of a house and garden,lovingly restored and shared with our guests, with family and friends...

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