We love people so much we insist of communicating with them.
Why do I write this?
Because this morning I have had so many situations that have confirmed me in our decision of dealing directly with our guests – like talking with them face2face, talking with them over the phone, chatting with another real person and/or answering and receiving mails from someone you feel is made from flesh and blood and not 1 & 0 digits like most of the AI services that you know is at the other end of Tripadvisor, Booking.com or any of the other online booking services.
I started my morning by making a list of friends I want to invite for the Creons opening on Sunday. My plan was to go and hand out the invitation personally – but since it wasn’t ready I decided to take advantage of the situation and call people instead and catch up.
I had written 2 names when I heard a car parking just outside the window. A well-known yellow T-Shirt, green army shorts & trekking boots left the car: Nuno… the second name on my list… and behind him the name topping the short list Catharina.
Catharina is our Tasca goddess who closed her small food cathedral 5 months ago. Nuno is an artist I have wanted to show the lounge for months – I’d love to see his works on our walls. Both of them are not on any social networks – so the only way to reach them is via the phone.
Or as it turned out – Karmicly 🙂
You may find this strange.
Annette and I are so used to these things that just happen when you least expect it and when you need them the most that we never get surprised.
Like the afternoon way back when we entered a small bar in on in the non touristic part of Koh Lanta and found our friend and fellow traveller Helen whom we hadn’t seen her for years sipping wine: Have a glass she just said as if we had left each others company the night before.
Nuno, Catharina and I had a long morning talk about the hotel, art, food and travel and followed up on the previous months gossip – and a lot of hugs 🙂
When I dialed Annette’s number I got her voice at the other end as if we were in the middle of a long conversation – I’m not even sure she picked up the phone! Annette was meditating about me in our local gompa in Kathmandu
I dropped the list.
Personal communication with people means a lot to us.
I don’t know if it was because of this incident. But when I went through all our morning mails I realized how important our way of dealing with the guests is.
Not only do we get a lot of useful and relevant information about what travelers are interested in, why the visit Lisbon, what they need in their hotel etc.
We also get a lot of warm and personal comments from people unknown to us.
Like this one from a guest who stayed with us in Kathmandu…
I stayed with you in Kathmandu in 2015–me and another girl from the United States. I arrive in Lisbon on Tuesday!! Let me know what you have available–I am on a one way ticket so flexible on timing. Can also go to the seaside if you have nothing open.
Or this one we haven’t met yet.
I was desperately googling the www for a nice place to stay with my family next year in May. … And then I found TINGS.
Your story is inspiring and I love the concept.
Or this one who wont stay with us because of lack of flexibility from another place (we would never do that)
Thank you so much for your reply. We went for another solution…unfortunately. We actually would have preferred to stay at Your nice place. But we couldn’t get a refund from the other place we booked(just a few hours before we learned about Your place).
Some other time! – soon hopefully.
Then I got a call from Shanti.
Shanti entered the door two days ago from out of nowhere and booked a room. It was late, and dark and I couldn’t help thinking: How on Earth did she know about us?
I found out the following morning.
… I fell in love with Graca and decided to go there and look for a hotel. But there were NOTHING – then I opened Google map and suddenly photos from your beautiful place popped up.
Shanti checked out after breakfast to return to her family who was surfing at one of the beaches north from Lisbon.
20 minutes ago our phone rang. I never pick up the land line but I was alone and answered the phone.
It was Shanti who was bored watching people surf and decided to return to Lisbon – so now she’s back. We ended up having an interesting talk about travel communication. She is also in the business…
In case you wonder what all this is about
A week ago I had an issue with Tripadvisor. We have some mistakes I wanted them to correct and wanted to talked with someone.
After 1 hour I gave up.
I had then been communicating with a robot who wanted me to go to various pages and fill in forms and wait for a reply. My problem had nothing to do with the available boxes – so I started searching for someone I could call/chat with.
When I finally thought I had a person of flesh and blood at the other end it took me a few questions to find out that it was another AI (Artificial Intelligence for those of yu who know) thing without humor, blood & flesh, misspellings or emotions…
Our own language skills may not be perfect and we make a lot of misspellings in our mails.
BUT we are real human beings and we are flexible and try to come up with solutions that make our guests happy. Also if the solution isn’t the best for our business.
Because we have been pissed off ourselves communicating with the online platforms square and un-flexible AI ‘services’ during our own countless travels.
We don’t want to do that to our guests. At least not if we can afford it 🙂