Some hostel managers need to grow up and treat their guests with respect?

We recently had a review submitted to hostelcritic.com complaining of petty and childish treatment by a hostel manager.

A guest booked the Lyons House Hostel in Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada)  through Hostelworld and after an enjoyable stay she posted this positive review on Hostelworld.

Review of Lyons House Hostel in Niagara Falls

Afterwards, she recieved a rude email from Patrick, the manager of Lyons House, saying she wasn’t welcome at the hostel in the future because her rating wasn’t positive enough. Patrick’s rude and childish email said:

“Megan I am very disappointed by the scores you gave our hostel. The comments are nice and appreciated but the score is horrible. You’ve rated is a full 20 points lower than our average for the month of May. The ranking that you gave us is lower than the foulest puke smelling bed bug ridden hostels in Toronto and New York. Our guests have consistently rated us very highly and your score is completely off the mark in comparison. I would never suggest that a guest stay in a hostel rated as low as you have rated us. The character of a hostel has nothing to do with the outside of the hostel and everything to do with the quality of the experience inside it. We are consistently rated very high for character. What was wrong with security? You had your own apartment with a deadbolt as well as your locked room We live on site and have 24hour security staff, the front door is protected by a security system as well. I can only assume that you are comparing us to motels and hotels.

If you have an suggestions on how to improve our hostel I would be happy to hear them. But, please do not book with us again as your score has hurt our business and I cannot allow that. I suggest you try the other hostel in town or perhaps a cheap motel.

Regards Patrick”

What sort of wacky thoughts could posibly have been running through Patrick’s mind to conjure up such as rude and childish response to someone who wrote a positive review of his hostel? Could you possibly imagine what a fit of rage he may erupt into if he actually got a negative review?

Megan gave his hostel a score in the mid 70s. I don’t see anything wrong with that is the sort of score; translated into a star rating, anything in the 70s would be regarded as four stars. Working as a professional reviewer, I reserve a rating of four stars or higher for the truly outstanding. When I researched BUG’s travel guidebook to Britain & Ireland several years ago, I visited virtually every hostel in the land and assessed an objective star rating for each place. In total only three hostels in England acheived a score this high.

Hostelworld’s rating is on a scale of 0 to 100 and anything above 50% should be regarded as above average. Well it would be if so many people weren’t so free in giving out abnormally high scores (above 90%). When people give such high scores without objectively assessing the standard of the hostel, then it creates a sense of entitlement among hostels who think that they deserve a rating that is way beyond the standards of their establishment. Earlier this year I wrote a blog post commenting about how percentage ratings on review sites seem to be skewed much higher than five-star ratings. A professional reviewer for a print publication would reserve the four and five star ratings for the truly exceptional, yet on some review sites anything below this is considered abnormal. So, come on guys; be fair and objective when you write reviews and don’t worry about giving out one or two star (or 10–20%) ratings. This helps your fellow travellers as they can see what a place is really like, and those truly outstanding hostels that earn a high rating get the credit that they deserve by standing head and shoulders above the rest.

Patrick doesn’t seem to realise that a high rating is something to be earned and some travellers have higher standards than others. His response was rash and came across as petty and childish and a guest who left the hostel with good memories, now has sour memories of his hostel.

In the past 12 years that I have been writing about hostels I have only come across this sort of behaviour a couple of times and each time I was shocked and disgusted that a hostel manager could act in such a petty and childish manner with such little regard for his guests.

According to most reports, Lyons House Hostel is a great hostel and it consistently gets good reports from travellers. Why would a hostel manager want to spoil his hostel’s good reputation by writing rude and petty emails to his guests after they have stayed at his hostel? Doesn’t he realise that upsetting one of his guests will result not only in losing her repeat business, but the business of her friends. And with the internet, one can have a lot of friends.

Grow up Patrick, show your guests some respect.

4 Responses to “Some hostel managers need to grow up and treat their guests with respect?”

  1. At least Patrick didnt eliminate her review.
    Ive stayed at a hostel in LA, the worst hostel EVER! the manager asked me to rate with 100% (yeah, I know it sound crazy but this is the truth. The last words we heard from him were: You write 100%)
    I didnt listent to his “advice” and I wrote a very negative review.

    Couple of weeks later, my review and others from gests I met during my stay in that dirty cave where deleted.

  2. I think the problem, as Tim point out is a shift from service mentality to ratings mentality in the hostelling business. I myself am a hostel owner and work very hard to ensure each and every guest that passes through our doors truly enjoys their stay, but the truth is that this is simply impossible. Not just impossible, but improbable. When dealing with people from different countries, mindsets and backgrounds ratings should fluxuate. Cleaners have personal problems, things break, receptionists break up with boyfriends and girlfriends, someone forgets to flush a toilet, etc. There are a million things that can happen in a hostel that affect a guests stay. They all can not be controlled. The best any hostel can do is be organized, train your staff well, learn from mistakes and offer the best possible product for the best value. There are good hostels and occasionally there are great hostels. There is no perfect hostel or best hostel, only the perfect hostel for an individual, or best hostel for an individual. Many hostels and owners have learned to manipulate the ratings(especially small places) leaving us where we are now with an ever growing number of hostels that on paper appear perfect. This inturn has given rise to the “angst ridden” hostel owner constantly checking ratings, and forgetting what is important and why we entered this business in the first place. The Love of Hospitality(if it is for any other reason, while you may have a good hostel that makes money, you will never have a great hostel). Besdies, filling a hostel has a lot more work to it than a high rating. The easiest way to find a hostel that you will like is the same way it has been done since the beginning. Asking people who have been there that you like and identify with. Then use websites like bug to see pictures other ratings, services and price. With this global picture then you will definitely find a hostel that you will enjoy. Thanks for the post Tim, enjoyed reading it.

  3. Hi

    I also just a a very sour experience at Thobeka Lodge in Kosi Bay South Africa.

    My friend and I made a booking at the backpackers. After a few days the owner sent us an email requesting us to pay upfront. I contacted him and told him that we were willing to pay a deposit but not the full amount. He then complained that he doesn’t want people to “stuff up his business”. He also proceeded to tell us we were not allowed to bring a 4×4 vehicle as he does not want us giving the international guests free lifts nor telling them that the beach was in walking distance. The reason he gave was that he makes people pay for the lifts only he may provide. I told him that as fellow businessmen in the hospitality industry I felt that that was unethical.

    Before I could pay the deposit I received a phone call telling me that we were not welcome as he does not want anyone interfering with his business. He said that he had had a slow year and this was his chance to make more money off the guests.

    I have had many poor encounters and experiences in my 8 odd years backpacking in three different continents, but never have I experienced such blatant exploitation. As a fellow South African in the hospitality industry I feel embarrassed that tourists whom we depend on are mistreated in such a fashion. This Gentleman, if I may call him that, gives us all a bad name.

  4. Sure in delivering a good service accommodation managers can get caught up in the ratings and reviews guests leave for them on the internet. Sometimes the managers themselves can be under pressure from owners who are constantly monitoring them. But we do have to accept that people have different opinions and one persons 100% could be anothers 70%. Rather than send email letters back complaining about the review, why not send a letter saying “From your review we feel you where not 100% happy with your stay, is there something we could do to make that 100%”. This way you might find the problem was out of your control or perhaps something was overlooked by another member of staff over the stay.

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