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“I heard from a friends friend who, although not there” – the curse of “they”

Not a lot riles me…..rudeness is the biggest of the tipping points for me, but I will save that for another entry…

Picture the scene, having met a client for what seemed like a really great second site visit. The date works, the space works, the numbers are good, budget seems to be within range, and everyone has a smile on their face….or so it seems.

Sitting down for coffee, the opportunity to run through things once more before ideally shaking hands and issuing a contract – and then……as if the clouds gather in the distance and the rumbling of bellowing thunder can be heard for miles (not dis- similar in some way to a rumbling tummy) – one of the all time annoying scentances…

“I heard from a friend…..”

Hearsay, not just a band......

From the off I will say this – constructive feedback is extremely important within the industry we work. I really do believe, that without it, there is no way to address at the product and service we offer, and work out a way to continually better this for our guests. It also allows for the ongoing creative development of all areas, to ensure that there is no resting on laurels for any business that feels it is doing something right. Nothing is worse than complacency.

However, it can be more than a little frustrating, when certain comments are brought up as a negotiating tool, that were heard third hand at best, and are used to question the product itself. So, how to deal with this?

In some way, clients may just be looking for a certain re-assurance, as they let you know that their event is the most important in your calender –  a fore warning that when they ask for that extra carrot on the plate, or additional place on the table with 15 minutes to go, that they had indicated things would be like this “when we met way back”. It’s more than that though. Usually, the comments that are preceded by “I heard from a friend” don’t come with any real back up, or relate to a completely different time in the history of the venue.

Example. A friend of mine came to an event here ten years ago…..
Or
My friends friend didn’t like the menu on the night (sorry, you mean the one chosen by the host and hostess of the event, that they were then kind enough to invite you to?)
Or
My friends friends sister, is Lacto Fruitarian….and I heard that, having not given this dietary requirement to the hotel, she had to wait ten minutes whilst they found something suitable for her to eat….

Ok, so the last is a little “not true” – but something key to remember is this. For the most part, the comments I receive are things that relate to the choices made by the host and hostess, and can not be therefore attributed to the venue or the guidance they have given. I would not recommend going above a certain number of guests in our Ballroom space for any number of reasons. However, and in the event that (Health and Safety considered) one more table can fit in and it needs to as “Aunty Joan and the kids all decided they would come after all” – my hands become a little tied when Mr Smith on the next table, feels that being placed next to a three year old crying toddler is in some way our “fault”

The food served on the evening is by far the biggest comment attractor (sorry for the poor description). Menus chosen by others, have no doubt been finalized after ongoing discussions with both the kitchen and the client. If the venue commits to creating a dish that can not be re created for 200 guests in the same way it was for the tasting, then it’s poor form on theirs and the venue event managers part. However, if fish was chosen over meat, the venue is not going to be able to find 50 steaks on the night for those guests who “only eat meat”.

Service however is a different story. Poor service isn’t acceptable whenever or wherever. If the comments therefore are relating to this, whether there be an explanation or not, I would most likely take half a step back and whilst trying to explain why this might have been the case, I would hope that lessons are learned, and in the event that there was ever a question that the service could be compromised, the venue would have drawn a line in the sand long before the guests walked through the door.

I think the over riding point is this. Whilst encouraging the sharing of a friends, friend comment – there still needs to be a certain “how” and relevance to these comments, and something that the venue can learn from and pay additional attention too. Hearsay is difficult to quantify, and can become a real sticking point, when in fact there was no reason for this to be the case.

Thoughts welcome……

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