For a small B&B on the beach, we have quite a few guests who go horseback riding on the beach with Kelly Robinson and always come back full of praise. So it did not come as a complete surprise to us that readers of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution ranked Kelly Seahorse Ranch #5 of the Best of the Southeast in Florida in a recent Sunday edition.
What did surprise me however was that Kelly Seahorse Ranch nestled itself triumphantly between tourism giants as Universal Orlando Resort and the Daytona International Speedway.
The list ranking is:
1. Clearwater Beach
2. Havana 1957
3. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
4. Universal Orlando Resort
5. Kelly Seahorse Ranch
6. Daytona International Speedway
7. The Dali Museum
8. Biking at Everglades National Park
9. Little Palm Island & Spa
10.The Key West Bed and Breakfast
Atlanta is the runaway largest market for the Amelia Island Tourism product, followed by Orlanda, Tampa, Jacksonville and the New York region, and to score this high for a niche-market attraction, speaks louder than any advertising. I think Kelly and Jim are on to something when they explain that Beach horseback riding is an increasingly rare and unique service and a major attraction for tourists, since there are not many places left in the country where this is not prohibited by yet another law.
On a different plateau of customer recognition however, I wonder why the largest peer review site in the world Tripadvisor, ranks Kelly Seahorse “only” 9th out of 28 Amelia Island attractions with 66 reviews, while the Amelia Community Theater with only 21 reviews manages to rank #3.
Which brings me to the fact that as a lifelong marketeer I have been questioning the infinite wisdom projected by the creators of mathematical algorithms, as introduced to us with the advent of the Internet. Tripadvisor started out as a customer driven review engine. Clear, straight forward reviews describing what was good, what was so-so and what is terrible and because they were unbiased they quickly grew into a travel industry powerhouse.
While still a powerhouse, Tripadvisor is no longer unbiased, as its corporate earnings model now functions as an organized crime extortion model for the leisure industry. The only good thing left about Tripadvisor are the actually guest reviews in writing, because they can’t be tampered with without exposing the company to great legal risk. But the way the algorithms now interpret the 6 criteria system of Value, Location, Sleep Quality, Rooms, Cleanliness and Service, has become rigged to favor advertisers.
And that unfortunately means that another well intentioned Internet transparency model will soon become as unreliable as the word of a stranger with ulterior motives.
I endorse Kelly Seahorse Ranch, because our guests come back with praises and excitement. We endorse Amelia River Cruises for the exact same reasons. No bad guest experience ever. We do recommend certain restaurants based on our guest’s experiences and preferences, because that is the type of relationship we build with our customers, who come here to spend hard earned money on a well deserved vacation experience. It is our pleasure to eliminate as much as possible the potentially bad experiences.