The Plum Guide – How would THEY rank? – Part 3
If you’re not familiar with Plum Guide, before you devour this information, please go back to the beginning and read the article that is the first part of this series.
In the first article of this series, we took a look at the Plum Guide and introduced the concept. In the second article, I did a deep dive into how we would do in the Plum Guide Award test, where I speculated that we would likely fail. I don’t consider that to be a negative endorsement, as practically every legal Orlando area vacation rental would fail their assessment. This is because their test was really designed for urban apartments in large, historic cities, and not modern vacation rentals in modern suburbia around a city-unto-itself like Walt Disney World.
In this last article of the set, I discuss an interesting set of questions:
1) Who appointed the people/company that runs the Plum Guide as experts/arbiters of great vacation rentals?
2) Would the Plum Guide itself pass its own test?
Who did appoint the Plum Guide as the experts in deciding what makes a vacation rental great? Well, the truth is, no one did. They appointed themselves, which is really convenient, but without any experience in owning and managing vacation rentals, and not just staying in vacation rentals, they don’t really have a full picture of what is involved in making a vacation rental great, and also sustainable and profitable.
Looking only at the guest side of the equation can lead one astray; it’s certainly not going to provide a complete picture. It’s kind of like asking eight-year-olds what great parenting is all about.
I’ve already mentioned that they seem to be quite AirBnB centric, which is a shame, as AirBnB is hardly the last word in vacation rentals, and they’re not even the first. In fact, in our view, AirBnB actually has very little to do with vacation rentals. Renting an air mattress or a spare bedroom in the corner of one’s home (and home sharing, as they call it) is not what vacation rentals are all about. This bias alone makes them a poor judge of any vacation rental.
One of the biggest threats to the vacation rental industry are websites, run by internet entrepreneurs who have injected themselves into the industry from the side, for their own goals… mostly profit. One of the defining characteristics of all of these online entrepreneurs is that they hold themselves out to guests (and even owners) as experts. They’re all going to define, disrupt and save the industry… while they line their pockets with millions. *Yawn* It’s such an old story in 2020 that it is almost a little boring at this point.
So Plum Guide, you’ve got a cute idea, I’ll give you that (because I thought of it a year before you did, I just don’t have the internet connections and millions to turn it into the vaporware it needs to be) and I expect it will work, but just keep yourselves humble and don’t believe all of your own press. Remember, you’ve never run vacation rentals yourself, and you have an incomplete perspective.
Setting yourself up as an expert definitely does not make you right about everything.
Now, would Plum Guide pass its own test?
Let me share with you what I think really reveals a great organization and defines itself as such. Anybody can do a great job when things are going well and everything is working as it is supposed to. But for me, and this is thirty-five years of business experience talking, what really defines the quality of an organization, or even a member of that organization is how they respond when things don’t go well. Because the fact is, at some point, they won’t. Murphy’s law will get everyone and every thing. Sooner, or later, and usually at the worst possible time, things will go badly. It just happens.
So what really matters is how you respond when things go wrong. Everybody can handle them going right. But when they go wrong… really wrong, and it is going to cost you major money and time, do you step up and spend the money, and take the time, to make things as right for your customer as you possibly can? Do you have the experience, the knowledge and skills, the contacts and abilities, to rescue a bad situation? That is what separates the men from the boys, the girls from the women, and the non-gender specific humans from the rest of us!
How do you react and handle things, when they go wrong?
Can you, do you, get an air conditioning repair person out to the villa on a Friday night at 8:30 PM to make sure that the guests will be comfortable over night and through the weekend? Of do you just say “Well, know one is available until Monday because they’re off for the weekend.” The latter is the typical response many companies provide. The former is the typical Breezy Oak Villas response.
How do you respond when things go wrong? It is a five-star response? Or would it only rank a one-star? That is what can really ruin a vacation, not whether or not there are lots of unneeded transportation and cute cafés nearby.
The Plum Guide Award only goes to one (or three – they’ve changed their claim since starting) out of every hundred properties which apply for inclusion. That’s 3% or less.
Well, how well does the Plum Guide fair with their own customers? Do they hit a home run more than 97% of the time? I noticed on their website that they claim to have a great rating on Trust Pilot, an internet website that allows independent ranking of companies by their customers.
If you take a deep dive on Plum Guide’s Trust Pilot ranking, you discover that they have a 4.6 Stars Out of Five Ranking. Interesting. That 4.6 ranking wouldn’t even get them considered for the Plum Guide Award! They don’t even themselves meet the criteria that they judge properties by! What is that old saying from the Bible? Judge not, lest you be judged… Hmmm. I guess that was a lesson that they decided to ignore when they went in to business.
One of the things that I love to do on Trustpilot is look at the one-star reviews. You can’t get a lower review than one-star, but if you read them, often the writers would prefer to leave zero or negative stars, they are so angry. In reading one-star reviews you can get a good sense of a couple of things; are the reviews reasonable or just written by unfair judgmental critics who will never be happy, and… how does the organization respond when things go wrong? The real (in my book at least) litmus test.
Just consider the numbers alone first. Only 87% of reviews are Excellent, 5 out of 5. 6% are great, or 4 out of 5, which is certainly not bad, but 7% are average to poor, with the majority of those, 5%, being BAD.
So read through the bad reviews. They’re painful. They tell stories of guests who ran into difficulties dealing with Plum Guide, and were essentially abandoned. They had holidays ruined. Miserable experiences, made all the worse because when things went wrong, despite all of their claims to the contrary, Plum Guide didn’t step up and make things right, at least as well as they reasonably could be expected to.
Statistically, with an 87% Excellent rating, or 4.6, the Plum Guide isn’t good enough to meet the standards they test vacation rental properties on! I would call that a great big red flag. How can someone who can’t meet a standard judge others on meeting standards? Isn’t that a fair question to ask?
Sorry Plum Guide, you fail the test, and have zero credibility for evaluating and referring vacation rentals!
And I say that because, based on MY review of your Trustpilot reviews, you don’t step up and take care of your customers when things go wrong.
You don’t run your business well enough, and take care of your own customers well enough, to pass judgment on me and my business.
It will be very interesting to see what happens if you ever decide to come to my neck of the woods! But based on my stringent standards, which in many ways are higher than your self-described impossible standards, you’re not doing a good enough job to assist our customers!
* Please note that we have no affiliation or connection with Plum Guide, or the Plum Guide Award and do not claim one. The Plum Guide is a website run by a London, UK company whose name we could not determine, but presume to be Plum Guide. We could not find any trademark claims on the Plum Guide website; PlumGuide.com.