The Garrulous Jay – Tripadviser Syndrome

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“Thank you for your review, even though it wasn’t very constructive and very badly written. Maybe you should consider spending your evenings at an adult education centre rather than at a pub.” Tripadviser review response from the Manager, The Earle Arms, Heydon

I confess I suffer from what I have named Tripadviser Syndrome. This is the term I give to applying disproportionate time and attention to things which are in some ways negative, whilst attaching less weight to more positive events and experiences.

This is particularly noticeable when I’m reading reviews on Tripadviser, or indeed other websites where members of the public are invited to contribute their opinions. A holiday property or a restaurant can have 90% positive reviews, but it’s the handful of negative comments that will leave me with an image of mattresses infested with bedbugs and fridges full of salmonella not salmon, making me reluctant to book.

The same is true of my work. I know that every business has its ups and downs, but I still find myself laying far more emphasis on what’s gone wrong in any period than the successes we have enjoyed.

In some ways I see this as a good thing as it ensures that we are constantly striving to correct and improve things.

But I also find being aware of my susceptibility to Tripadviser Syndrome helpful. That awareness leaves me better equipped to snap out of it, keep things in perspective and focus on what can be learned from any negatives and how these can be turned into positives.

The approach taken to poor Tripadviser reviews by the proprietor of The Earle Arms* may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think it shows one way in which to address what would otherwise be bad publicity. Rather than attempting to excuse, placate or apologise, the landlord’s strategy is to meet fire with fire, and in the process entertain.

Here’s another characteristic response to a two-star review: “We are traditional country pub and we serve fresh, locally sourced food. I don’t know what you were expecting to find, maybe the hanging gardens of Babylon, herds of wilderbeast (sic) roaming majestically across the plains. As for treating your daughter and son in law, maybe a night away from you would be the perfect treat.”

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find these replies make me more, not less, likely to want to visit the pub.

Recognising that Tripadviser Syndrome is a natural human tendency, looking for the lessons that can be learned when things go wrong, and placing equal weight on celebrating success are all key to building both personal and business resilience.

*Full disclosure, I have been a patron of The Earle Arms for approximately 38 years.