OPINION: Editorial: Surveys and polls are as much a part of modern life as the internet.
It seems everyone wants to know everyone else's opinion on everything.
We find it easy to dismiss those ghastly telemarketers (dreadful word), who always ring at dinner time, by just hanging up the phone, although a good trick is to put the phone down and walk away - after all they are paying for the toll call.
However, internet surveys are much easier because you do it in your own time and it's invariably free.
It also allows you the freedom to think about how you answer questions.
It is a little naive to write off internet surveys and polls as being mere vehicles for generating publicity for a particular website.
When many thousands of people respond or make comments, businesses need to sit up and take notice.
Rating accommodation and eating places is becoming the norm.
With so many people making their own flight and hotel/motel bookings it makes sense to use the internet to find out the best bargains and, more importantly, where to avoid.
Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle is right on the button when he says that comments on websites like Tripdhadvisor could be beneficial to businesses.
Kiwis are notorious for not complaining to the business operators about bad service or food or unacceptable accommodation.
It is more common for customers to complain to friends and relatives, a situation that does nothing to help rectify the situation.
Of course some complaints are frivolous or malicious, but the important thing is that businesses take the opportunity to respond.
Tripadvisor and other similar sites provide that opportunity.
If a customer feels compelled to sit down and complain, obviously their experience was far from enjoyable.
Conversely, many comments praise the food or accommodation and once again business owners can benefit from seeing where they are getting things right.
Saying nothing does not help anyone.
Customers see that if a business responds then they are thinking about the complaint - or the praise.
The Think Big projects and subsequent oil and gas drilling have had a substantial effect on New Plymouth, especially with restaurants and cafes.
The projects brought the world to our city and we responded.
Ethnic restaurants and fine-dining have replaced the once ''high-class'' establishments such as La Scala and Golden Harvest.
Going out for breakfast was a foreign concept but it is now common for people to enjoy the first meal of the day at a restaurant or cafe.
Many people make breakfast their first work appointment.
We have adapted.
The internet is often referred to as the ''virtual'' world but the reality is that it has probably had the single biggest impact on society since we first stood up and walked.
It is nothing short of stupid to ignore its possibilities.
We need to make it work for us.
People who recommend eating houses and accommodation are still real people, real customers.
Their opinions are valid and should be valued.
Ignore them at your peril.
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