Wednesday, 31 July 2013

We're Excellent!

Unlike many anglophones (Brits especially) who move to France we are not of pensionable age, so we needed a way of earning an income. When we moved here our original idea was to live in the graineterie and rent the house out as a gîte (holiday self-catering accommodation). But we soon realised just how many people were doing that and that one gîte couldn't give us a livable income. We decided to do something that could link into the tourist industry here, but acting as a complement to the holiday accommodation sector so that we worked as partners (as the French like to call separate but collaborating businesses).

Luckily, some serious periods of thought (and the need to justify having a Traction Avant) bought us to where we are now, and three years in the hard thinking is starting to pay off. We have been extremely lucky with our clients, who have been interesting and interested people, fun to spend the day with, and that makes our work so much easier.

Most of our enquiries about tours come after people have read our reviews on TripAdvisor, who have just awarded us a Certificate of Excellence. It means that we are rated amongst the top 10% of attractions listed on TripAdvisor. This is due to our clients who take the trouble to post a review about us on the popular travel forum. They have consistently rated us as excellent (with one exception out of 33 reviews, who thought we were very good).  This is very reassuring: for us in that it shows us we are apparently doing the right thing, as well as for our future clients when they are searching for something special to do in the Loire Valley.

You hear a lot of negative things these days about TripAdvisor, and some travellers don't trust the reviews to be genuine. Rumours that fake reviews are written by professionals abound, and we receive many offers from professionals to write more reviews (these hit the spam bin so fast it's a wonder we don't get whiplash). Furthermore, they wield a lot of power, as a single negative review can have a big impact on business. Although we ask our clients to write a review, what they say is entirely up to them and personal to them. Fortunately, the one time we had what looked like a negative review, we realised that the client had mistakenly reviewed us when she had actually used a different group, who have a guide with a similar name. We let TripAdvisor know and they immediately removed the review. What a relief!

On the whole, I think TripAdvisor is a useful tool for the canny traveller, who knows what they like and is willing to take the time to read between the lines of other people's reviews. What do you think? Do you use it, and how do you sift the useful information from the irrelevant?


  1. Congratulations!!
    A 'stifficate to be framed and hung on the orrifice wall....
    and a sticker for Clemmie as well....
    but which window to put it in...
    that's the task now!!

  2. As for TripAdvisor...
    we've never needed to use it...
    haven't made a trip anywhere in the last ten years [perhaps we should?]
    But a friend of ours uses it all the time...
    she commented that she only reads reviews that actually make constructive comments about places to stay / restaurants / attractions....
    and wanted to have a button to filter out the "often misplaced" gripes from upset/miss-informed customers and the "we think they are wonderful" gratuitous comments that say nilch about what you are likely to see, get, sleep in.

  3. Congratulations!! :-) How fab that all the hard work is showing such nice dividends!

  4. Well done! A lot of hard work is behind your citation so you deserve the plaudits which come your way.

    As for TripAdvisor I do glance at relatively recent reviews and form a judgement. I wouldn't take into account the solitary shocker without setting it against the positive comments - on the 'you can't please all the people all the time' basis.

    Well done again! Treat yourselves to a bottle of something nice...

  5. Congratulations!!! An award well deserved. I used Tripadvisor once when looking for information on a B&B in Deal. The comments were extremely positive, with the odd exception telling more about the writer's personality than about the actual service and location. So I ignored it ... and I wasn't disappointed; on the contrary!

    Bonne continuation! Martine

  6. To be original, I'd say: Congratulations! Keep up the good work!

  7. Well done!
    It certainly gives you a boost when you find that people actually appreciate your hard work.

    For that reason I sometimes leave reviews on TripAdvisor. If someone is giving a great service I will say so. Equally if someone is giving really terrible service I will also say so.

    Having said that, I rarely have the need to consult TripAdvisor, as I personally have been to the same place for holidays for the last six years !! And trying out new restaurants and taking a gamble is part of the fun, n'est-ce pas?

    I am a bit suspicious of some of the reviews you read. Our local favourite restaurant in Derbyshire is excellent but the owner told me that someone once tried to blackmail his way out of paying the full bill by threatening to leave a really bad review.

  8. congrats....i know y'all feel good about that.....i know lots of work goes into your business
    re comments on trip advisor.....I read them but then i start thinking that anyone could write them.....members of the persons family or someone with a bone to pick

  9. Congratulations on your certificate from TA. I always knew you two were excellent, and now TA knows it as well.

  10. Congratulations....a reward for hard work and high standards.

    I use TA if going somewhere new, just to give me a feel for the place but a lot does depend on the more 'OMG this was awesome' describing burger and chips will be the final straw...

  11. That is wonderful and well deserved ("felicitations"!). It was a smart idea and I am glad it is paying off. You might also be grateful not to have a B & B as it might have been more work.

  12. Good,Better,Best,Excellent,Brilliant,
    Well done!

  13. Congratulations and you really deserve it! Just the short tour you gave us was really professional and interesting. What's more, despite my usually deficient memory, I remember it all! Definitely 5 stars.
    Yes, I check TripAdvisor and I write both good and bad reviews of places I've been to (not tours so far, just hotels, B&Bs and restaurants).

  14. Many thanks to everyone for the kind words!

  15. Congratulations with the well deserved award!
    The half a million site visitor mark is also nearby and underlining your great capability of informing (and entertaining) people interested in the Loire valley!

  16. Wonderful! I've always thought your touring ideas seemed great, and having such knowledgeable locals is a great plus for your clients. Great job! (Well... excellent job, actually;)

  17. Congratulations, well deserved. Have a good weekend. Diane