The power of recommendations and word of mouth communications in establishing and maintaining a good reputation is indisputable. How to achieve such excellent public relations can seem more of a mystery – but the secret is evident in praise and thanks.
Nowhere is this more true than in the holiday business – one I know well from growing up in a traditional seaside hotel in Great Yarmouth. Back then, business was a little different with regular customers returning year after year (often decade after decade and generation after generation) for the same week or fortnight without fail. Their parting action was commonly to book for the following year. Happy visitors also used to send us Christmas cards – and even birthday presents – as they saw our family as part of their lives. Each year, letters containing deposit cheques (yes I am that old) and more latterly phone calls grew in frequency at the start of January, and within weeks we were fully booked for key periods.
That’s not to say we didn’t experience some less than delightful customers and we could commonly spot those who were likely to complain almost immediately. Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad and never impacted on our reputation.
Today, life is tougher for those in the hospitality industry, although the essential elements remain much the same in terms of happy guests contributing towards strong word of mouth and that ever important stand-out reputation.
The traditional record of customer satisfaction was the visitors’ book but today the digital – and much more pubic – equivalent is Trip Advisor. So, I’ve just left my first ever recommendation to praise and say thanks to Fiona and Andrew who own Cwmshon Cottages in Pontadawe, South Wales.
These delightful traditional cottages had superb online ratings, plus tourism awards, creating high expectations. For a break with two dogs it is often difficult to find anywhere nice to stay. With a speedy response to my enquiry, along with the opportunity to visit an area that I don’t know – with amazing canine friendly beaches, I made a booking.
As well as checking out Trip Advisor reviews (and noting the Certificate of Excellence 2014 award), I had visited the Cmwshon Cottages website and was impressed with its professional appearance. But I know how easy it is to make something look good online and the benefits of careful staging for high quality photography. I’m also genetically cynical and never really expect something to be as good as is promised. But the cottage lived up to its promotion and couldn’t be faulted. I just love the fresh flower welcome personalised for each guest on the front door as a first impression (which are also posted onto the Cmwshon Cottages Facebook page). But the icing on the cake came in the form of the little touches – from homemade cake and honey to an excellent guide book all created by Fiona. We couldn’t fail to relax and have a great time.
Naturally, I left a glowing report in the good old-fashioned paper visitors’ book – and returned home meaning to add my review to Trip Advisor. Fortunately Fiona followed up her excellent in-person public relations by sending me a thank you email and copying my hand-written recommendation in case I wished to leave this on the review site (including a link to make this easy). Another simple touch that isn’t difficult to do, but is often forgotten.
Seeking endorsement can be tricky as it can come over as hard-sell or manipulative as I’ve encountered with some businesses – but if we don’t prompt praise from those who can affect our reputation, we potentially leave the online reviews to be dominated by those who prefer to moan whilst the positive word of mouth from those who are happy but busy doesn’t get amplified beyond their close contacts.
There are many other ways that we can boost the public relations of those who serve us well using social media. Likes and follows are easy endorsements – but it is the personal reviews and ongoing engagement (the modern equivalent of those Christmas cards) that will help others take our advice.
So take it from me, if you are looking for an outstanding place for a self-catering holiday, I can wholeheartedly recommend Cwmshon Cottages with five stars. And if someone is worth some praise and thanks, take a few minutes to boost their reputation online.
For more about Cmwshon Cottages see:
- Website: http://www.cwmshoncottageswales.co.uk
- Trip Advisor page: www.tripadvisor.co.uk/VacationRentalReview-g186466-d2270133-Cwmshon_Cottages-Swansea_Swansea_County_Southern_Wales_Wales.html
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CwmshonCottages
- Twitter: @CwmshonCottages (feeds from the Facebook page only though)
Also, here is the blog for 5 Church Road – the new redevelopment project being undertaken by Fiona and Andrew Rickman: http://cwmshoncottages.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/5-church-road/