Everyone has heard of Tripadvisor and most of us have probably used it sometimes, if not regularly to investigate somewhere before committing to visit. You may even have put your own comments up there. It is a handy website and can give you a good idea of what you might expect but it is also worth remembering that it is subjective, personal and only a guide.
Comments can Hurt
As a small business I cannot tell you how upset I get by a few of the comments on Tripadvisor about Coombe Mill. People can pick up on the smallest imperfection and blow it all out of proportion. There is one so nasty from an anonymous entry that it nearly put a family off visiting. I only know this because during their stay they told me about the post and how angry it made them feel when, like many, they had the best holiday ever and their view of Coombe Mill couldn't have been more different. It saddens me that people can visit us, be unhappy about something, not say anything to Nick or I whilst here but then anonymously tell the world about a fault they found with their holiday. I know I need to put this in perspective and remember that there are so many outstanding entries to every poor one but it doesn't stop them hurting me, especially as some are directly pointed at me, Nick or worse still our children. As a family we put so much into making every single person's holiday special which makes these comments feel like a real kick in the teeth. If you want to see what I mean this is the comment feed on Trip Advisor for Coombe Mill.
There are always improvements going on here and those returning year on year comment on the positive changes. Over the past 12 months we have invested in the Coombe Mill Railway, introduced new animals and improved field fencing, built Tree Roots Cottage and dredged the fishing lakes together with ongoing maintenance.
However much I would love to we can't afford to change and add everything all at once; I wish I could, there is always something that is work in progress and something that needs updating. I have a growing Pinterest Board of things I would love to change or add if money were no object!
About the Farm
We are a holiday farm. Our farm is a working farm but on a very small scale. It is not a petting zoo, the animals are not zoo animals and neither can we or would we want to expose you to all the real machinery and life cycle of a true working farm. We do our utmost to educate and develop confidence with the animals within safe guidelines but to some I guess we will always be too much of a farm and to others not enough.
We Act on all Comments
If someone takes the time to mention to us that something is not right in their property whilst staying at Coombe Mill we will do everything we can to rectify the problem at the earliest opportunity. We live here on the farm and are available to talk to at any time of the day or night. An uncomfortable mattress or a squeaky door are not always picked up on our weekly changeover checks, but tell us and we will sort it. Just two weeks ago a guest left us mentioning, very nicely, that there was an unacceptable damp smell in the downstairs bedroom in Willow Cottage. We aired the property as best as we could that day for the following guests, provided an alternative property for the parents using the room, and identified the chimney as the issue. This was not something we could sort instantly, however we were straight onto the builders to book them in for our first free week and they have now rebuilt the chimney from our emergency funds and also replaced the back door which families were having trouble locking as it had become stiff over the winter period.
Please tell us of issues before venting on line, we do care and we will act. Just for the record I have chosen not to respond to comments on Tripadvisor to avoid becoming entangled in a public discussion there, but we do address every issue arising, it would just be so much more helpful if these comments could be directed to us here at the time of inconvenience so that we can sort them out before they spoil a holiday.
Next time you go to add a poor review about a family business on Tripadvisor please remember there is someone who may really care receiving your complaint. Please consider approaching them directly about your concerns first, they may be only too happy to help.
My pleas to you before you visit Coombe Mill and during your stay
|Read the web site and see what is included and excluded. It is very clear
||Don't book a riverside lodge because it is cheap and then complain it s small and basic when the web site clearly states this is the case.
|If you visit us and are not happy please, please tell us at the time.
||Don't let something we can help with like an uncomfortable mattress ruin your sleep, we will happily replace it that day if we possibly can.
|Do be aware this is a working farm with real farm animals and natural dangers. Children need to be supervised
||Don't expect the river and lakes to be fenced. They are natural features that our insurance prohibits us from fencing and signing.
|Do use our safe play areas as somewhere to let the children run free and meet others
||Don't expect us to find a damaged play item immediately. It really helps if you can tell us so we can fix it.
|Do take advantage of our honesty shop and leave us a note in the book of purchases
||Don't expect us to stand in the shop all day, there is a door bell if you need us
|Do take part on the activities provided. The morning tractor rides are fun and educational for parents and children and the train rides a great way to meet with others at the end of the day.
||Don't expect us to anticipate your every need. We try to ensure all children take turns at tractor driving and train turns but please speak up if we miss someone, or something is scaring them.
|Do plan for all weathers. This is England and it can rain as hard in summer as in winter.
||Don't book your holiday dates based on what you think the weather will be; it is very unpredictable in England for good and for bad!
|Do enjoy the freedom and peace of the farm, appreciate the nature around you and respect it.
||Don't allow your children to run riot on the farm, leave gates open, terrorise the rabbits then complain they have been bitten or the play equipment is broken.
We work hard as a family to provide happy holidays for your family with plenty to keep children learning and enjoying from tots to teens. However if the outdoors, mud, wellies and animals in a beautiful 30 acre estate doesn't appeal and evenings by the log burner listening to the river babbling in the background is not your idea of entertainment then we may not be the holiday for you.
Still interested? Here is the link to our availability page. We look forward to welcoming you to our farm and making your holiday one to remember for all the right reasons.
I'm linking up with What's the Story over at Podcast