It’s apple season in the North Country. Did you know that I live in the McIntosh Apple Capital? Well, it’s true, I’m surrounded by apples. At this time of year, cider and donuts RULE.
Funny thing though, I’ve always had this silly song in my head every time bunches of apples are mentioned. I always thought that this was just a way to get a girl on the rebound.
One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch girl.
Oh, I don’t care what they say
I don’t care what you heard.
A recent review of the Hotel Saranac sparked my interest:
Not worth staying here…Part of the Historic Hotel Society- not sure how or why. My husband and myself were very unhappy with the hotel and the town. Would never go back. We had such a lovely day in lake Placid and would stay in one of the many hotels there if we ever go back. I was truly surprised by the appearance from the moment I drove up and parked the car.
Not so much of a surprise if you’ve been following this historic hotel’s saga, but the linking of the “hotel and town” caught my attention. These folks had a negative first impression which seemed to impact their remaining experience in what I consider a quaint little village. So much so that they proclaim that they will “never go back”. To the hotel or the town? Maybe it doesn’t matter.
“Tourism is everyone’s business”
Coincidentally, the folks at Highland Business Research asked this question yesterday, “Beware of bad apples – are other businesses spoiling your customer’s experience?“ Almost every saavy marketer knows that satisfaction is a direct result of meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Much of traditional travel marketing is all about helping the consumer reduce or eliminate uncertainty in their purchase decisions. This has always been the most difficult part of any travel experience – having to make a purchase decision before consumption. Now with the proliferation of consumer-to-consumer tools, the previously conquered and divided masses can talk to each other before venturing into the unknown. This bit is spot-on:
Bad experiences stick and people want to get them off their chest by telling others about them. And they now have the tools to tell a bigger audience than ever. The ripple out is a problem because it takes more than an equal amount of good experiences to offset the damage from a very negative one. Additionally the negative experience anchors satisfaction low, so that the visitor is also likely to rate the other tourism businesses that they encounter lower than they would otherwise have done.
They give 5 possible responses to “bad apples”:
- Just let market forces take their toll.
- Provide a band aid, moral support and try to outshine the negative.
- Name and shame – let the customers do the talking?
- Apply the carrot of training/rewards and the stick of policy at a national or regional level.
- Lead by example to drive sector, community or destination level quality control activities.
I’m a free-marketer, so #1 is my choice, but often that doesn’t work quickly enough to stop the rot or it doesn’t work at all. But, you could say that this very post is an example of HBR’s preference of “Name and Shame”. As an “official” DMO (Destination Marketing Organization), we have our hands tied to an unfortunate “objective” promotion of our assets. Could we feature reviews on our site? Not while funding for our activities is subject to political considerations. Too bad, if the Hotel Saranac’s reviews were available, not only would we be assisting market forces, this whole unfortunate experience could have been avoided.
“…the town has essentially lost what was once the crown jewel and social center of Saranac Lake, and the experience reaffirms the importance of protecting a community’s history.”