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It seems you have an issue with being remote. As you say, most guests are Google Map specialists and find you - but many guests come totally unprepared with zero research on the property or even the country.
Our problems are less than yours - but we suffer from one way syndrome, our town making a series of roads one way so if you go wrong a long loop around is necessary to get back on track.More amazingly, those who take taxis from the airport usually have their taxi driver phone us asking directions!
My suggestion would be to do airport transfers if you close enough to the airport. Not only do you pick up your guest and deliver them safely to your door, you get time to achieve a good rapport with your guest in the trip back. Lastly, it is a good alternative form of income - we charge €3 less than the airport taxi service and still turn a healthy profit.
May I just comment on the the last bit of your comment - the fact they gave you a bad review because THEY broke the rules. Weaponising reviews is a pet hate of mine and I have crossed swords with Booking.com before on their policy.
Basically - here was the reply I received for someone who posted a review that said we did not provide sheets (we obviously provide full bedding), the room was small (it is 25 square metres), and the pub across the road was noisy. (there is no pub across the road). I reckon the wrong review was submitted as it does not describe our accomodation - and their score of 5 harms us and looks ridiculous amongst the 10, 9.6, 9.2 we usually get.
Thank you for working with Booking.com.
Booking.com posts as many guest reviews as possible to make sure that potential customers can get a realistic picture of the property.
In our experience, displaying a mix of positive and negative comments adds credibility to your review set; publishing only positive reviews could seem suspicious and discourage customers from booking.
Comments are removed only if they go against our policies, namely:
• Contain profanity, sexually explicit or violent content, hate speech, discrimination, or threats
• Mention full names (first + last names), or include personal attacks relating to named personnel
• Promote illegal activities (e.g. drugs, prostitution)
• Contain content that is exclusively about a competitor and/or Booking.com, with no relation to travel
• Mention websites by name, include emails and/or addresses, phone numbers, credit card details
• Contain politically sensitive content
The review of this reservation, was not going any against of these policies, so we inform you that we can't remove it.
This will mean that this person who visited your establishment, broke the rules and makes up a bad review cannot have their review removed FOREVER because it did not contravene the above rules.
I strongly urge Booking.com to establish an arbitration service where reviews (which are vital to the property's success) can be looked at with consideration for the content other than those listed above.
Waikoninihomestead - Reading between the lines it appears your problems are emanating from certain ethnic minorities. It is regrettable that countries have adopted laws which actually prevent you of your right to determine who you want in your home on the basis that it is 'racist'. I remember pubs having a sign over the door stating that the landlord reserves the right of entry - alas no more!
We had a barrage of bookings between 1 week and 10 days that completely filled our Guest House over the New Year when we first started - all were from North Africa. Not ONE arrived, costing us over four thousand Euros in lost business. It appears they were just using us to secure their visa by saying they were staying in accommodation when in reality they had no intention of turning up.
BDC would not allow us to exclude bookings from North Africa, all of which we received had been fake, for reasons of 'discrimination'. We eventually had to combat this ourselves by introducing a letter which asked for passport details up front as they were 'outside the EU' and failure to do so would result in us informing the Maltese Central Visa unit that the visa was not supported by us in terms of accomodation. After a few more bookings we did exactly that (we received a 'thank you' from the Visa Department!) - soon all such bookings dropped off, I guess it got a around by word of mouth that we would rat on them to the authorities.
Waikoninihomestead - Thanks for that. We don't actually have house rules, we have had about 3 guests in 5 years that have done something we did not like. Hopefully this won't change, but we did not like to provide a long list of 'house rules' if we can avoid it - most prospective guests would probably find it off putting.
The one facility we have agonised over is TVs in the rooms. This is expensive, but as we are in Malta and most channels are in Maltese or Italian, over 4/5ths of our guests are foreigners who are not interested in watching TV. The guests who moan the most are the Maltese and the Italians!
We made a decision to take this by the horns and have stated that it is our deliberate policy NOT to have televisions as they are disruptive and in a typical Maltese stone house, they can be heard down the corridor.
So far most of our guests have accepted that but we do have a few whingers who never read the description properly.
Waikoninihomestead - That sounds like a good idea. How exactly have you communicated this to the guest, do you state this in your confirmation letters?
Contact - I feel for you here.
Just an observation, but Booking.com want us to post comments here so they can learn how to improve. I think they need to take on board such criticisms if they want to use this forum to improve. It would be nice to hear from the BDC representative on this topic.
Juancsandoval - Are you sure you don't have a business in Malta? ;-)
We sometimes have the occasion when you turn a tap on and there is no water only to find workmen outside digging up the road. We are never forewarned and they always seem to time it as guests are preparing for a shower in the morning or wanting to clean up after a day on the beach. We went through almost a day and a half when the entire town was cut off due to a major leak that was being repaired.
You can do nothing than immediately inform guests, tell them what you know and put out bottled water for them to use. The main thing is to keep your guest informed, so if you have a social network set up as we do with townspeople, we quite often get advised when someone in the know manages to post something useful on what the cause is and how long it will take.