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.
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?