Tuesday 23 June 2009


After a week of pondering the significance of a large Savannah animal whose importance is insufficient for them to assign capitalisation to their own proper noun of the first person singular, I'm now going to try and post something useful. What do you mean you don't understand what I'm going on about? You’re not supposed to; it just makes me feel better.

When you run a business you do have to continually re-asses everything you do. When you are chef, brewer, electrician, IT manager and head bottle washer it can often feel like you are too close to the coal face to see the bigger picture. It can also be dangerous to cast the net too wide and view opinion that exists outside the target audience.

The Internet is something of a jungle. It's a very powerful marketing tool for getting the message out there to a customer base. We seem to be reasonably good at it. Not perfect, I'll admit, but most of our new custom comes that way; that and word of mouth. The Internet is also the main mode for unhappy customers to vent their spleen when they find that what they expected is not borne out in reality.

I work hard to try and tell prospective customers what we do. I'm sure I don't get it right all the time, but I try. In return we get various compliments coming back to us directly. Some criticisms come back this way as well and I try and respond to them all personally whenever I can. It seems to me that many more criticisms work their way into WEB2.0. Sites such as beerintheevening and tripadvisor can sometimes be quite cruel. Not just to us but to other establishments where I know hard work is being put in by staff and owners. Perhaps it's our style, where we try and give a personal touch to our service. Satisfied customers seem to want to contact us directly to tell us how much they enjoyed their time here.

I have stopped looking at review sites. If I didn't I'd become terribly depressed. We know very well that we don't appeal to a broad audience. We are simply not trying to. We find that due to our location we have many more quiet times than busy times and feel our service is much better when trade is slower; we can provide a more friendly style that works better and makes us happier. Yes it's niche and yes it's a little select and maybe even got an element of snobbery about it, but it works for us.

When you are in a niche, be one.


Anonymous said...

Ooh, Dave, the words 'pot', 'kettle' and 'black' come to mind here. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way commenting on your hotel or your philosophy, but you have used your blog to lob the odd comment here and there which could certainly be misconstrued as cruel, and you use the tagline 'opinionated ****', so what's the problem with other people sounding off about things they feel as strongly about? When travelling I've used both the sites you mention, and I generally find that where there are both positive and negative reviews, the latter tend to come from a poor match between client and proprietor, or just an awkward bugger customer! But I know that any criticism I made in any professional capacity may be seen as more authoritative, so I'm careful to rein it in on those occasions, which I think is a good rule of thumb when posting to the world wide interwaffle!

Jeff Pickthall said...

Nonetheless you must view criticism, positive and negative, in context.

The context is - target customers. You must identify the kind of people you want to attract and market toward them.

If you you get +ve from them and -ve from non-targets (e.g. Stella and Brake Bros fans) you're doing right.

Criticism, per se, is just noise.

If any criticism ever comes the other way round, you've got to do some thinking.

Unknown said...


What's the problem with other people sounding off? - perhaps nothing, and this is just my own defence against it. Is this not what we are all doing here?

I certainly don't intend to be cruel to anybody. I might well get it wrong sometimes or fail to show satisfactory sensitivity. If I am sometime guilty of that then I'm sorry.

I do fully agree that a bad reviews of establishments generally comes from a poor client match to that establishment. That was really all I was trying to say. Unfortunately, people are more motivated to comment when they feel badly done to. That includes me.


I'd be lying if we didn't get the occasional complaint from people we feel should be in our target audience. We are not perfect. I hope we give them appropriate consideration.

Tandleman said...

I like and agree with what Jeff says here and even if you do fail to please the odd member of your target audience, that's just the way it goes. Seems to me you are trying hard and you can't say fairer than that.

Whorst said...

Lets face it, I'm the whipping boy of the beer blog world. Where were the people dishing out lashes in 1996 when I went to your island equipped with loops, plates and slants??? At one time I had over 20 different yeasts on slant. This was before White Labs and Wyeast were prominent. This is why I enjoy taking the pish out of the freaks. I've done it all. British beer is great in its simplicity. I see no reason to go on, and on, about it, unless you run a pub, or you're at war with a certain consumer group that organizes beer festivals. Watching Avery go on about a beer he's drinking from a over-sized wine glass is nauseating. Reading Hess' CV on his beer credentials is nauseating. I'm tired of these authoritative beer figures, many don't know FA about it in the first place. Don't worry about being opinionated Dave. The mutants have bigger fish to fry.

Unknown said...

Tandleman agreeing with Jeff - wow, a result.


Tandleman said...

I'm open minded me.

Paul Garrard said...

You can't please all of the people all of the time:

I also agree that if you can please your target customer most of the time then you must be doing something right.