Researching and booking a recent trip to lovely Lisbon, I was struck by how one can get it so right and so wrong, in simple ways.

As always, I believe it boils down to solid customer care and business communication principles, regardless of the technology employed.

I was impressed by the response received from the proprietor of a small B&B listed, not surprisingly, as most popular in Tripadvisor (click on the image for a larger version).

In a simple, friendly message, in imperfect English, he informs me that he does not have availability for the dates I want, but:

  • thanks me for my ‘friendly’ email [everyone loves a compliment]
  • offers one night at a discount [worth a try to fill an occupancy gap]
  • highlights the most important point [people often only skim email / websites]
  • is warm, friendly and personal
  • lists locations and photos of his other properties
  • takes a long term view, inviting us to contact him the next time

On the other hand, while reading reviews on Tripadvisor, I come across two responses by a hotel to poor reviews, both of which start with a nicely-worded but identical sentence. While I strongly advocate the use of templates for convenience and effectiveness, their use in this instance conveys insincerity and a lack of interest in the guests’ feedback.

Their response is personalised after the first sentence, but this effort may be wasted, because of the way the people skim-read on the web and the manner in which the responses are displayed.

So, what can we learn from our Lisbon colleagues?

  1. Make the most of every contact opportunity with potential, actual or past clients or guests
  2. Be friendly and personalise communication
  3. Consider the wider / future audience: viewers of forum posts or forwarded email and referrals
  4. Check how your input will be displayed before publishing online and tailor the content and layout accordingly

A final digression: if visiting Lisbon, Cabacas restaurant and the Casa do Alentejo and well worth checking out.

I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016