‘Fed up’ hotelier hits back at negative TripAdvisor reviews

Paul Chatwin said he was fed up of the PC attitude towards guests

A ‘fed up’ hotelier has responded to negative TripAdvisor reviews of his hotel after being annoyed at the ‘customer is always right’ attitude.

Paul Chatwin, manager of the Royal Clarence Hotel in Burnham-on-Sea, has taken to the review site to reply to guests’ feedback with his version of events.

Telling one guest that he was “not here to be nice to every guest”, Chatwin said: “Writing back is the only way for a hotelier to challenge what has been said, or to be honest.”

In response to a review where the guests complained about the hotel’s six off-street parking spaces, Chatwin said: “Unfortunately, when they built the hotel in 1796 they didn’t include enough car parking spaces.”

In another review, he said he would “make no apology” and would tell guests they are “muppets” if they were “unruly”. He also replied to another review claiming a guest blackmailed him with the threat of a bad review.

The 19-room hotel has a 3.5-star rating on TripAdvisor and 193 reviews. Some 22% of the reviews rate the property as excellent, 32% rate is as very good while 17% rate it as terrible.

He added: “I’m just really fed up with the PC and ‘customer is always right’ type of argument. The customer isn’t always right and we’re not always right but there must be a level playing field and we have got to treat each other with respect. But if they go too far then it’s only fair we should correct them if they have something wrong.”

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Shekina Tuahene

Shekina is a multimedia journalist who has lived in London all her life. She is an alumnus of University of Greenwich and Brunel. Shekina loves to read, travel, socialise and listen to music. If you have any story or feature ideas, feel free to drop her a line.

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1 thought on “‘Fed up’ hotelier hits back at negative TripAdvisor reviews”

  1. Hello. I am Paul, the owner of The Royal Clarence Hotel.

    When I agreed to do an interview with a local news website, it was to try and highlight the unfairness of the reviews system; particularly Tripadvisor. A couple of news agencies took hold of the article and with a bit of a “twist” it became the “Basil Fawlty” story. The story was purchased by several outlets and it just went viral. Unfortunately, many news outlets (including Hotel Owner) used an outdated image of the hotel before it was refurbished.

    The story appeared in online editions of The Mirror, Daily Mail, The Sun, Express, ITV – and the New Zealand Herald. I was invited to speak on two national radio phone-ins, BBC Points West, the updated version of The Hotel Inspector and a newly commissioned series of Hotel. I was offered £1,500 to do a follow-up interview for The Sun – and then I was invited to appear on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan. It was a busy few days lol.

    I declined them all as I felt the focus would remain on my replies rather than the real issue.

    When I saw how the story had been written I feared the worst, but those fears were unfounded. The positive response to the articles has been overwhelming;

    The Daily Mail probably has the most comments (433 at present) and most are positive. One person wrote “The hotels should be able to review guests. That would make for an interesting reading.” with 872 in favour and just 25 against. Wouldn’t that open up a can of worms! Another posted “If you run to tripadvisor to vent your grievances before speaking to the business directly, you are pathetic. The sense of importance that these platforms have given people is quite incredible….” with 361 agreeing and just 21 against.

    As stated, my main grievance is with the integrity and fairness of the review sites; none of them are even close to being fair to both parties but Tripadvisor really does need to review itself.

    Why? (as if it needs saying again)

    1) Reviews appear without any form of moderation.
    2) The property owner is not advised that a review is posted and has to monitor TA.
    3) The property does not have a choice to be on there or not.
    4) The property has to take the time to reply to or report a review. Ignoring them isn’t an option.
    5) If the property writes a reply, it is moderated.
    6) Any property response will take several days before appearing.
    7) A poor review can remain in the public domain for several days before a response is shown.
    8) If the property reports a review, it remains public while TA look into it.
    9) When you see reviews on phones and tablets, the property response is usually hidden, requiring a click to view.
    10) If an anonymous review is left, the property is unable to respond or fact check.
    11) Even if a property replies to a poor review, the review score is used to form the hotels position on TA.
    12) When you follow the procedure and issue a Take Down Notice to Tripadvisor, they are ignored.

    WHY should hospitality businesses around the World have to accept this shoddy, unfair and unchecked platform.

    Is simply stating “This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC” morally acceptable? What is wrong with reviews being Objective and stating facts rather than mere opinion.

    In this day and age it is easy for a guest to photograph a dirty bathroom to support their statement.

    1) A review should stay “hidden and on hold” until the property has been notified and given 7 days to reply to it.
    2) A property must be allowed to reply to ALL reviews; even the anonymous ones or where only a score has been given.
    3) If the property reports a review, it should not be published until the complaint has been investigated.
    4) If a hotel wishes to further challenge a review which has been investigated, there should be an independent platform on which to do so (perhaps with a £50 fee, refunded if the complaint is upheld)
    5) Both parts of a review must be given equal exposure, without having to click to see the property response.
    6) A Take Down Notice must be issued/accepted by TA in the local Country rather than in the USA.

    I don’t consider any of the above suggestions to be unreasonable.


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