I was in Devon last week. First stop Salcombe for a marketing seminar, and then client visits in Torquay.
It was my first few nights away since February, so hearing great things about one of the hotels in Salcombe, I decided to treat myself and book it, since that was where the seminar was.
And on paper, it ticked a lot of boxes.
Good rating on Trip Advisor.
Lots of pretty pictures showing how beautiful it was.
Unfortunately this was a world away from the reality.
My “cosy inland room” offered 30cm of space between the bed and the wall, and nowhere to store my suitcase, which meant me clambering over it every time. The lights didn’t work, and the wardrobe was stuffed full of dressing gowns so there was no more room to hang anything.
And it was no better once I was out of the room – staff were barely polite, with plenty of passive aggressiveness on display on the sun terrace, as they plonked down un-solicited bills and stalked away, with the clear message: “You should be leaving now”.
As a single female, it was very difficult to get any service, and when I did manage to obtain it, it was surly in the extreme.
After two days of sub-standard service in Salcombe, I headed to Torquay and the boutique B&B I’d booked.
If I’m honest, I didn’t have high hopes – if the 5-star hotel didn’t live up to its reputation, what hope was there for a bed and breakfast?
I needn’t have worried – the Hillcroft in Torquay was absolutely perfect.
Nothing was too much trouble for the friendly, helpful and informative owners, and my Morocco-themed room was beautiful and at least twice as big as my room in Salcombe, for a fraction of the price.
There’s absolutely no doubt that I’ll be recommending the Hillcroft to anyone who’ll listen, whilst warning anyone heading to Salcombe to avoid the hotel I stayed in like the plague.
And it’s a salutary lesson for anyone running a business.
It’s so easy to get complacent and assume that you can keep acquiring and retaining clients based on past reputation that you forget that you actually have to deliver.