Saturday, 25 August 2018

Reviews do matter!

1 more review and we will have 500 TripAdvisor reviews for our lovely little resort..... 

Of our 499 reviews:

- We are rated 4.5/5
- We have received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year
- 55% Excellent, 28% Very Good, 9% Average, 5% Poor, 3% Terrible
Before owning Mook Lanta Eco Resort, I used to own a Dive Centre on the island. Whilst I read our reviews on TripAdvisor I very rarely responded to them.
Memorable Review Titles:

'Worst Resort I have ever stayed in!'
'Far Better Elsewhere'
'A Joke!'
'It's not our style!'
'I would say Good, but not Very Good'
'Nice Bungalow, Great Breakfast'
'Wonderful Garden Resort'
'True Island Vibe'
'Oasis of peace for humans and animals'
'Close to my idea of paradise!'
'That's how you imagine it'
'Mook Paradise'
'4th time here keeps getting better!'

When my husband and I took over Mook Lanta Eco Resort, we decided to take a different approach and not only read every review but also respond to every review.

We were in position 64 of TripAdvisor, when we bought the business 5 years ago, we have been as low as 9 but now are fairly securely located at 16/85 resorts. In that time we have learnt an awful lot:

1. You cannot please everyone, and sometimes despite all your hard work you will never be right for some people and the best you can do is help them find somewhere that is more for them.
2. Never judge a book by a cover! Sometimes a customer will walk through the door and you think they are going to hate your resort and your most basic room, but, instead they love it and want to stay longer.
3. Make sure your booking agents, websites, photos etc properly reflect your rooms, people do not appreciate being surprised!
4. Learn from your reviews, a guest reviewed us once and said the room was almost perfect but there was no mirror in the bedroom, when she returned the next day (because she hated Phi Phi) there was a mirror in her room!
5. Negative reviews are not always negative for the business, if it is a fair review, then learn from it, if it is unfair say so. Other potential guests like your honesty. I actually get more guests tell me they came because they read my bad reviews! because they can see I care.
6. Getting to know your guests really well, can cause TripAdvisor to think that your guests are not your guests, but are actually your friends! Well sometimes that is exactly what some guests become.
7. An 'Average' review can be ok. We are not a 5 star luxury resort, so when you actually read an average review often they are very accurate.
8. Being in the Top 10 is not great too, we discovered we had a new problem, we had bookings that thought that we were a really cheap 5 star resort!
9. Some reviews are not even about you! We had a French guest come to stay with us after a horrendous stay in another resort, she was so drunk when she wrote the reviews, she wrote the reviews the wrong way round (in her review of the other resort, she said that the review was meant for us and not them!)!
10. Don't take them too personally! Actually I am still to learn this one! I have cried over good and bad reviews (they matter that much) and I have had an argument with my husband when we get a bad review.

This one made me cry!

So what is my advice for those people writing reviews:

1. Before writing a review, give the hotel the option to fix the problem. Sometimes we have trouble locating which room you stayed in, making it harder to fix and also the next customer will have the same issue.
2. Be fair and be honest. Try to make your review not personal but helpful.
3. Your opinion is your opinion, you have an absolute right to it, so do not be afraid to say somewhere is not good if that is your view.

Hoping review number 500 is a good one!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Driving Change

We, at Mook Lanta Eco Resort, have always tried to reduce the waste we produce:
Our guests leave their unfinished products for others to use
- We ask guests to refill their water bottles with us.
- We recycle all our plastic bottles, cans, glasses and cardboard.
- We use dispensers in the rooms for Shampoo and bodywash.
- We change linen once every 3 days (unless the guest needs it changing more regularly).
- We ensure all our air condition units are off when no one is in the room.
- We have solar lights along our walkway (and are increasing our solar use further this year).
- We no longer use plastic laundry bags, but have reusable bags in the rooms.
- We ask our guests to leave behind unfinished suntan lotion, shampoos etc and unwanted toys, so that others can use them.
We have reusable Laundry bags
But we are not the only ones, Koh Lanta has many people dedicated to reduce/reuse/recycle the waste on Lanta:
Trash Hero beach clean every Sunday on Koh Lanta
 - Trash Hero Lanta (who we sponsor) organise regular beach clean ups.
 - Auntie Bee's recycle waste packaging and turn it into funky new things.
Fans made from discarded Straws
 - 7/11 help with beach clean ups and are actively trying to reduce the plastic bags they give away and promote recycling.
 - Many other hotels and businesses are composting their waste, reducing/recycling their plastic waste.
Auntie Bee's make new funky bags from old Rice Sacks=
But not only Lanta is doing this, Thailand is trying to drive change:
7/11 trying to be part of the solution, not the problem
 - 7/11 have their first shop in Koh Tao where no plastic bags are given out.
 - Single use plastics have been banned from all National Parks.
 - Amazon Coffee, will discount your coffee if you bring your own cup.
 - The government has banned smoking on many popular beaches around Thailand.
 - The Tourist Association of Thailand is working with strategic partners to create sustainable tourism.
Discounts for those who bring their own cups at Amazon Cafe

But we have a long way to go! So help us create sustainable tourism in Thailand, by reducing/reusing/recycling your waste.