Lately, TripAdvisor can be the single most important internet presence for getting new customers to your guest house. As I reported in my first post about TripAdvisor, many hotel owners are promoting their bed and breakfasts by making up their own wildly positive posts or having friends do it. The only way that the TripAdvisor mavens can tell that this is happening (if you use different email addresses) would be by the IP address always being the same. Sometimes guests log on while staying at your place and post from your IP address (we have WIFI access everywhere using our microwave connection directly from the El Yunque peak towers). If we know, we usually ask them to wait until they get home before posting a review and most times this takes away the spontaneity and a review never gets written. Our guests here at the Rainforest Inn in Rio Grande tend to be internet-savvy people who are familiar with web 2.0 and some of the drawbacks of the new social networking. So when they see a bed and breakfast listing that has a hundred or so perfect glowing reviews they suspect something is awry and check further. One way that TripAdvisor offers is a simple click on who is posting the review and then look at their other postings. From this you can see right away that it is a real vacationer and you also might learn about other cool places to stay (or places to stay away from) when you're visiting Puerto Rico. Another of the drawbacks with web 2.0 is the omni-present spam bots. It is the reason why I'm blogging to you on Typepad right now (my Wordpress blog died under a bot inundation). To run a successful social web app you have to put traps in place to stop the bots. This means blocking certain IP address and having mult-step login processes with a "captcha" picture that can't be read by the spam bots. The drawback to complex login processes are that sometimes it becomes just too hard for someone to post a comment or a review and they give up. For example, the following review was sent to me by one of our guests that had given up but emailed it to us because they still wanted their review seen. Here is what our last guests at the Rainforest Inn had to say:
"We visited the Rainforest Inn for our spring break in March 2007. We arrived very late at night, our plane being delayed, and to our surprise we were graciously met by Bill. He showed us to our room, really the Chalet. As you can imagine we were quite tired and ready to hit the bed. The Chalet is charming; nice large living room/kitchen, our bedroom overlooked the rainforest with windows on 2 sides which made for great breezes and great sounds of tree frogs (coquis). We had a lovely porch overlooking the premises on the front of the Chalet. The next morning we had a super breakfast prepared by Laurie. She told us about all the various things we could do and if we wanted to simply relax that was just fine, too. What we liked about the Rainforest Inn--wonderful, quiet location, great breakfast, very nice folks to spend a week with and get to know. I would recommend it to anyone."
-- Marcia, Winnetka, IL
Laurie and I always love to read the comments are guests make after staying with us. It makes every effort we put in to make their vacations special worth it.