First it was snow.
Then it was fog.
I was supposed to fly to Nanaimo from Vancouver by floatplane, but the winter weather wasn’t allowing it to happen. My Nanaimo social media workshop, as a result, was canceled. Twice.
Well, three times lucky, right?
Upon planning the third attempt at this workshop, I decided it would be best to scrap the floatplanes and instead take the ferry. Nanaimo, by the way, is the second largest city on Vancouver Island – an island that sits off the coast of Vancouver. It takes 2 hours to get there by ferry or 20 minutes by float plane. To make my plans even more foolproof, I decided I’d head over to Nanaimo the night before. As far as BC Ferries go, only the rarest of windiest storms could spoil their journeys, so it was a chance I was willing to risk.
Realizing I’d never stayed in Nanaimo before, I fired off an e-mail to our Nanaimo-based client for accommodation suggestions. He wrote back immediately:
“The Coast Bastion Inn is the nicest and it’s downtown, but the Buccaneer Inn is better rated and it’s by the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal.”
Hmmm. I’d be arriving early Tuesday evening from Departure Bay and had my workshop south of downtown the following morning, so both options were appealing.
I looked at their websites and noted that these accommodation choices were totally different ends of the spectrum – ultra-modern higher-end hotel vs. a one-of-a-kind family-run motel. I could easily enjoy both for completely different reasons.
I then went to TripAdvisor.
I went to TripAdvisor and did what most people do – I skimmed through the hotel reviews, only to discover that both of my options were good. The Buccaneer Inn’s rated #1 and the Coast Bastion Inn is rated #2.
I then went to the TripAdvisor Nanaimo forum and asked the following:
I got responses almost right away. The responses to my questions were detailed and sincere. Take a look!
But what I really found fascinating were the posts by “BuccaneerDave”. He’s the TripAdvisor Destination Expert for Nanaimo, and being a Destination Expert myself, I was familiar with his genuine helpfulness and solid advice he’s given others in the past. But it was at that moment where I put two and two together:
BuccaneerDave obviously must work for the Buccaneer Inn.
If you know anything about TripAdvisor forum etiquette, you’ll know that self-promotion and solicitation is forbidden. It’s just not kosher. Even if you attempt to write about your own business in the forums, anybody can flag it as inappropriate, thus removing the post permanently. As a business owner you can participate in the forums and be helpful in the forums – you just can’t talk about your business. It’s a delicate balance.
So with all this in mind, I was particularly interested to read his advice. This is what he wrote:
As per my previous experiences from what I saw in the forum, BuccaneerDave gave me valuable local insight on Nanaimo. His answers were all relevant to my questions, making sure they addressed my needs. But even more impressive was that BuccaneerDave was endorsing the competition and all those businesses within its vicinity.
In addition to the above reply, BuccaneerDave sent me a private message on TripAdvisor. The private message explained that he can’t talk about his property (the Buccaneer Inn) due to conflict of interest, but that he recently toured the Coast Bastion Inn (his competition) after their recent $7 million renovations and that, with its location downtown, it would be a perfect place for me during my short stay as it would offer the best experience of Nanaimo for somebody like myself – a single female exploring the city for the first time.
Well, talk about an ambassador! Putting your customer’s needs first before personal gain. Now that is truly commendable! That is what TripAdvisor Destination Experts are all about.
So my question to you is:
Do you know who your local TripAdvisor Destination Expert is?
Perhaps it can be you!
Until next time…