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Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Posts Tagged ‘Playa del Carmen forum’

TripAdvisor Asks Us For Help

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 16, 2011

We received the following message from TripAdvisor this morning. Our response to them follows.

Hi LunaBlue,

We hope all is going well with you and your role as a destination expert. Due to some recent disruptions in the Playa del Carmen forums, we are contacting you with a friendly reminder that we expect all of our experts to adhere to our forum posting guidelines and to embody our Community Mission:…
We’d like to ask for your cooperation in helping us to restore a friendly and pleasant atmosphere in the forums. In particular, we’d ask you to please refrain from engaging in any personal confrontations in the forums or any personal gossip about other members by private message. Additionally, we’d like to remind you to completely refrain from posting any remarks that could be construed as self-promotion, such as announcing special events that take place at your property, suggesting your business when people ask for recommendations, or providing your Facebook contact information.

If you find any inappropriate posts made by other members, we would ask you to please refrain from responding to them and instead bring the specific posts to our attention so that we may investigate, track any members who are repeatedly in violation and take any necessary action.

Please let me know if you have any questions about our policies. We appreciate all of your contributions and your dedication to the TripAdvisor forums, and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Best regards,
TripAdvisor Support Team

Here is our response:

Hi, Mike,

We’d be glad to offer you some suggestions as to how you can “restore a friendly and pleasant atmosphere” to the Playa del Carmen forum. Our first and foremost suggestion is that TripAdvisor adheres to its own guidelines. This may require some retraining or replacement in your personnel that moderate the forums. But so far in our opinion the moderation of the Playa del Carmen forum has been laughably poor.

We’ll offer you an example. Recently, a forum member started a thread asking for directions to our bar. They stated that they had tried to find it in the past but were unable to do so. We responded by giving them directions, both via taxicab and on foot. We did not promote an event, promote our business, or make any statement which could be construed as advertising, i.e., we’re the best bar in town, etc. We answered a specific question from a forum member on how to locate our business.

This type of posting by a business owner is clearly allowed by TripAdvisor’s guidelines. TripAdvisor’s guidelines (a link to which you very kindly sent us) clearly state that a business owner can respond to comments or questions about their own business as long as they clearly identify themselves as the business owner and provide relevant information which is not promotion or advertising. It very specifically says that “contact” (i.e., how to find us) information can be given if it is requested.

Our response clearly fit into that category. By the way, please note that whenever we have posted on the forums, we have always identified ourselves in signature as the owners of a local business. We have never once posted and not done so.

Yet, despite clearly obeying TripAdvisor’s guidelines, our post was deleted. This is not the first time that has happened. Why did it happen? There has been for some time now a small group of people on the Playa del Carmen forum who have stated—often angrily and sometimes with insults—that business owners should not be allowed to post on the forums in any circumstances. We ourselves have been the target of substantial comments which have gone beyond rude, simply because we are business owners.

We suspect that one or more of such individuals marked our posting as inappropriate. The ball was then in TripAdvisor’s court. The moderator should have looked at our post and realized that it was well within TripAdvisor’s guidelines. Instead, he or she automatically deleted it. We suspect that this reflects an anti-business owner attitude among TripAdvisor moderators.

In the same vein, TripAdvisor could have done much to help “restore a friendly and pleasant atmosphere in the forums” by making an official pronouncement clarifying the guidelines and the role of local businesses in terms of posting. Instead it has allowed a small group to hijack the forum and use it to enforce personal views and sometimes personal vendettas.

Therefore, we find it somewhat amusing that you ask us to restore a friendly atmosphere on the forums when TripAdvisor feels it doesn’t even have to follow its own guidelines when deciding to delete our posts.

In the same vein, we have to note that at one point a poster from New York consistently made postings praising a certain hotel in Playa del Carmen. He did so under several different forum names. The problem with those postings is that he was the owner of the hotel. He never identified himself as the owner and instead acted as if he were just another vacationer who had discovered a great place. We repeatedly complained to TripAdvisor about this violation of rules. The moderators took no action for several months. Again, our suggestion is if you want people to follow the TripAdvisor guidelines, you follow them yourselves.

We also have to note that this letter either reflects a certain ineptitude on the part of TripAdvisor or certain rudeness. If this letter was sent out as a form message to all destination experts, then it is a simply a reflection of ineptitude. It is not relevant to our specific role or actions on TripAdvisor and should not have been forwarded to us in such a manner. If in fact it was specifically sent to us, it is outright insulting. Reminding us not to engage in self-promotion is an insult if it is specifically directed to us. Review the postings we have done over the past five years. We challenge you to provide us with specific examples of an attempt at self-promotion or advertising. We have NEVER talked about our hotel except in direct response to questions raised by other forum members. And we have always identified ourselves when giving such answers.

We also find your admonition that we “refrain from engaging in …any personal gossip about other members by private message” to be not only rude but shocking. First of all, we do not engage in such activities either on the forum or in private messages. Our private messages are almost exclusively giving answers to forum members who have contacted us about specific issues in Playa del Carmen (almost none of them related to our business). However, the second point is more important: How can TripAdvisor see itself as the moderator of “private” messages? The nature of a private message system is that it remains private between the people who are exchanging the messages. Certainly if someone is using that system to harass or attack another person or make unwanted intrusions into their account on TripAdvisor, they have every right to ask TripAdvisor to step in. But blanket warnings not to gossip indicates that TripAdvisor deems itself the moderators of exchanges between people who believe their communications to be private when in fact it appears they are not. We must conclude from your comments that TripAdvisor reads private messages. If that is the case, we suggest you change the term to “public messages.”

Lastly, we will admit to a single violation of TripAdvisor policies. Our last post on the Playa del Carmen forum (which has now been deleted by TripAdvisor) set forth our complaints regarding our unfair treatment simply because of our status as local business owners. We indicated at that time we found it impossible to offer people assistance in planning their visits to Playa del Carmen in such an atmosphere and suggested that if they wished to contact us with their questions they could do so via our blog or our Facebook page, the URLs for which were given by us. However, in all honesty, we did not do so to generate more business but because we wanted the other members of the forum community to understand why we would not be attempting to assist them with their questions on TripAdvisor in the immediate future. We wanted to offer our assistance in a friendlier atmosphere if people wanted to call upon us for help. In almost five years of posting on TripAdvisor’s Playa del Carmen forum, this was the first time we ever knowingly violated one of your rules. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for TripAdvisor itself.

Let’s be blunt here. TripAdvisor’s forums are a carefully controlled tool to bring people to the TripAdvisor website which in turn generates profits for the company. We don’t have a problem with that. We do however have a problem with maintaining a supposedly public forum where moderation is inconsistent, guidelines are enforced or not upon the whim of a particular moderator and where locals who own businesses are discriminated against and pushed out even when they strictly adhere to your policies. If you want to make the forum a more “friendly” place, we suggest you address those problems.

We have been staunch public supporters of TripAdvisor and have served the forum well as “Destination Experts.” And while exposure of our business via the forum, i.e., our signature on postings, can generally be considered beneficial, the effort, time and negative exposure resulting from personal attacks and a lack of support by TripAdvisor have made it an overall unpleasant experience.

At this time, we are the only Destination Experts who actually live in Playa del Carmen. The attempts by TripAdvisor to silence us leave its Playa del Carmen forum members without a single local voice to answer their questions. We fail to see how this serves the forum community.

We hope that you will give serious consideration to our comments. The issue here is actually larger than just TripAdvisor or the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar. The last two years have seen a dramatic drop in tourism in this part of the world. Media hysteria over dangers that actually have never touched Mexico’s Caribbean coast has caused many people to forego visiting this beautiful area. As a travel industry leader, TripAdvisor has an obligation to help set the record straight. Your forums are one of the opportunities to do that. However, that opportunity will be lost unless you operate them with a sense of fairness and an understanding of your own duty in such operation.

Please feel free to contact us in the future if you’d like to discuss this further.

Tony & Cheri
Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Final update: After we publicly announced we were withdrawing from Tripadvisor because of their treatment of us, we had a couple of surprises. First, people on the TripAdvisor forum began to speak out on our behalf. Thread after thread was started with many, many posts from people letting TripAdvisor know they did not agree with their censorship policy. Then, the biggest surprise…TripAdvisor sent us a message of apology. They said they were sorry for the “misunderstanding,” thanked us for our participation and support in TripAdvisor’s Playa del Carmen forum and re-published our deleted posts.

We decided that based upon this we would return to posting on the TA forum. We thank TA for taking the unusual step of actually reconsidering the situation and being willing to admit an error on their part. However our greatest thanks is for the many people (most of whom we’ve never met nor corresponded with) who spoke on our behalf and said so many nice things about us. That really meant a lot to us. So in the future you can continue to find us on the TripAdvisor forum offering information about Playa del Carmen and this beautiful part of the world.


Posted in Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Tripadvisor Punishes Local Playa del Carmen Businesses

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 14, 2011

We posted the following this evening on the Tripadvisor Playa del Carmen forum. We think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Where is the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar? We know, but we aren’t allowed to tell you.

We have been posting here on the TA Playa Del Carmen forum ever since we moved to Playa almost six years ago. After a couple of years of posting we were made “Destination Experts” for this forum. There are a lot of “Destination Experts” for Playa, but we are the only ones who currently live here. We think that gives us a knowledge that can’t be obtained simply by vacationing here occasionally.

From the very beginning we’ve done our best to offer as much information about Playa as we could and to obey TA’s rules for postings by a local business. We always signed our name as business owners so there would never be any question about it. We never started threads about our business. We never responded to questions about where to stay or which is the best hotel. We never offered opinions about the value, quality etc. of our business or competing businesses.

Mostly we have answered questions about Playa from people who needed information. If you want to see what kind of posts we made and what kind of information we have offered just click on our avatar at the left of this post. Go to our profile and look at the list of our postings.

We think most people will agree that we have regularly answered questions about Playa that had no connection to our business. And we have answered questions regularly from people who clearly were staying at large resorts and would never consider coming to a small hotel like ours.

Of course we realize that exposure on a forum like TA is generally good for business. But the reality is that the TA Playa forum is overwhelmingly populated by people who prefer the AI experience. We have NEVER had a guest tell us that they picked our hotel after seeing us on the TA forum. We have always felt that we had a unique knowledge and experience and wanted to share it.

However some other people saw it differently. An increasingly vocal group on this forum has started a drumbeat against local business owners posting here. We have never understood why. As long as people know it is a business they can judge the weight of the opinion accordingly. Readers can ignore such posts, accept them or take them with a grain of salt.

In the end, our attitude has been that locals—those who live and work here—have more information to share than those who occasionally visit some large resort on the Riviera Maya once or twice a year. We think many people are interested in what we locals think and know. However a small group of forum posters acting as self-appointed censors saw it differently. This group has made a real effort to drive locals from this board.

Because we are local business owners, we have been called shills for the tourist trade and representatives of the whole Mexican hotel industry, accused of blatant self promotion and even personally attacked. One person who publicly said we had no place on TA went on a TA forum and said our hotel was a front for an escort service! We have dealt with this stupidity as best we could over the years, continuing to post in the belief that we were actually helping some people discover the wonders of this part of the world.

However today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Someone started a thread asking where our bar was. We posted our address and directions (both via cab and walking). No promotion, no advertising, no “we are the best bar…” etc. Just directions, no more. Someone complained it was self promotion and TA removed our post.

In short we aren’t allowed to even say where we are located without being attacked by those members of this forum who have decided they and they alone can decide what others will post. We find this unfair, and we think TA’s willingness to allow this sort of bullying to take place is equally wrong.

For us the stupidity and pettiness of certain members of this forum have reached a point where we no longer find it worth our time or effort to share our knowledge of Playa on this board.

We are still more than happy to share what we know of Playa…just not here. If any reader here has questions about Playa and think we might be able to help, please feel free to contact us at our blog (, our Facebook page or through our website. Or you can even just by stop by our hotel and ask your questions in person. We’ll do our best to help.

We love our adopted home of Playa Del Carmen. We walk its streets, visit its beaches and experience its people EVERY DAY…not a couple of times a year, but EVERY DAY. If we can help others discover the pleasures of life here we are happy to do it. But we are not willing to be attacked for offering people this help.

Yes this post will quickly be removed. As soon as one of the self-designated forum police sees it and reports it, TA will remove it. But we are going to post it on our Facebook page and on our blog. We think forum readers should know how Tripadvisor has allowed a few people to restrict information on this forum.

We wish the readers of the TA Playa del Carmen forum good travels. Please come to Playa and see for yourself how sweet, laid back, and beautiful life down here can be.

Now we are going to return to our life here in paradise. We will see you on the beach.

Tony & Cheri
Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Someone at Tripadvisor must have been sleeping last night, as they allowed this post to stay up for almost 14 hours before it was deleted and the thread closed. LOL Thanks to all the nice people who had positive comments.

Posted in Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Newest Playa del Carmen Forum….In The Roo!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on December 26, 2007

In the Roo, Playa del Carmen's Newest ForumThere’s a new kid…uh…forum…in town and we like it! It’s the new Playa del Carmen forum on the “In the Roo” website,, owned and operated by a couple of PDC locals, John and Libby. The website has lots of information on Playa Del Carmen restaurants, hotels, and activities. It bills itself as “Playa’s Most Comprehensive Business Directory” with good reason. The site is growing richer with up to date information every day. “The Roo” is of course, Quintana Roo (pronounced Keen-tana Row), the state where Cancun, Playa, Akumal, Tulum and all of the Riviera Maya is located.

The forum section of their site is divided into various topics including “Playa Del Carmen, “Riviera Maya,” and “Locals Talk,” among others. This is a great place to find the latest news about Playa Del Carmen and the surrounding area, pick the brains of people who live and work here, and ask any question you want while planning your trip down here. A number of local ex-pats and “Playense” are already members of this board including us, and more and more members are joining daily. You will find a lot of people willing to help you get whatever info you need about Playa and the ‘Roo.

There is also an “(Almost) Anything Goes” section where people can simply chat about what’s on their minds. Undoubtedly that is where you will find Tony and his good friend Mark, another PDC local, chatting about politics from time to time, especially as the US election draws near. Tony and Mark (who is known as Playadelsoul on the forum) are the best of friends, but one is a liberal Democrat and the other a conservative Republican, so their discussions can get pretty intense (and occasionally funny). And anyone is free to join in.

Of course, there are lots of forums about Playa and the ‘Roo out there in cyberspace. We know of at least seven! The truth is anyone with a couple of hundred dollars can buy the software to set up an internet forum and claim to be an expert on the area. So why pick one forum over another? In our opinion, a forum should be chosen for the quality of its information and for the integrity of and ambiance created by its owners.

As far as information is concerned you can’t get better than In The Roo. In 2006, Playa Del Carmen was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest growing city in the world. For those of us who live here, that sure seems to be true. Restaurants, hotels, and tours open and close with amazing speed. New beaches, new streets, and new events seem to be discovered on an almost daily basis. We live here, and it’s still hard for us to keep up on the latest changes. That’s why having a group of locals come together on a forum like In The Roo can offer so much information. A forum that is owned and operated by people who only live here part-time or not at all just can’t offer that kind of up to date news.

And, unfortunately, it must be said that not all forums are “friendly.” People can become possessive about their internet space and all too often are unwelcoming to strangers or newbies. Everybody is new to the area at some time. Sure, someone just discovering the joys of PDC may ask the same old questions others have asked a million times….but that’s no reason to turn them away, treat them badly and certainly not to humiliate them. Sadly, we have seen this happen on other local forums and even had it happen to us. It’s not very nice, and it’s completely unnecessary. We don’t think that’s ever going to happen on In The Roo. The owners, the locals they’ve chosen to help moderate and the people who are signing on as members seem to understand the need to help people discover Playa del Carmen and not just keep the same old crowd entertained.

We’re excited about being part of John & Libby’s project. Everyone we talk to down here in Playa del Carmen feels the same. We would like to invite everyone who reads our blog—whether you’re a regular visitor or a first timer—to check out their site and join their new forum. We think you’ll find a lot of information and a friendly atmosphere… In The Roo. Tell ‘em Tony and Cheri from the Luna Blue Hotel sent you. 🙂

Posted in Friends, Living the Dream, Recommendations, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »