You only need to be let down once by a guide book

How many times do you need to be let down by a guide book to make it useless to you?

We were using the “Rough Guide” to French hotels, which is actually a translation of the Routard guide. Generally, we’ve found the Rough Guides excellent – and admit to being a little biased as the owners of the firm graduated from Bristol. But the Routards recommendation of the hotel we stayed in for our first night (Hotel De La Croix D’Or – Avrenches) really put us off.

The hotel itself consisted of an old part at the front, and a newer part at the rear. Even the front had only one room (the reception) that was actually authentic. The restaurant was the kind of place where anyone under 65 feels young. The service was ridiculously laboured, with that kind of inappropriate pretention that leaves Fawlty Towers looking tame. The menu was so standard and completely unimaginative that a junior from a cheffing course could have easily churned the meals out. The bedroom though was the thing that took the biscuit. Described as characterful and overlooking a beautiful garden the reality was that it was the kind of sterile mass-market room that you’d find in a worn-out Travellodge just before they were refurbished – with a few enhancements that beggared belief (the wall mounted TV that prevented the toilet door from opening properly). The garden was an overgrown staff smoking spot, with a few chairs scattered in it and in desperate need of a little horticultural TLC. The main access for the carpark went straight through it.

So, will we be using another Routard recommendation? No way. Will we be using another Rough Guide? Well, we shall certainly look twice to make sure it isn’t simply a translation of someone else’s guide.

I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in, at some stage you depend on third party products and services to deliver your own to your customers. How DO you manage the quality of those without the cost exceeding the advantage of subcontractors? (This is the hub of an issue I often stumble across.)

All the best, Graham.

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