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Hotelier enjoys roaring trade after online Fawlty-style rant

His Basil Fawlty-style rant against an online reviewer who trashed his hotel's reputation, made him a hero of the Scottish tourist industry … and won him global publicity.

Now hotelier Alex Scrivenor is seeing a welcome boost to trade on the back of his unexpected fame.

Just weeks after his tirade against a troublesome guest was shared globally online, the hotelier estimates that business at the Crags Hotel in Callander is up by as much 40% on what he would normally see at this time of the year.

He said: "Our bookings have been significantly higher than usual. At a conservative estimate, they would be 30% to 40% up."

They had also found people dropping in to the Perthshire hotel to have a look at the place and to ask what had happened. But it didn't stop there.

"We have been inundated with emails from around the world, particularly from Australia. I don't know why it struck a particular chord there. They are a straight-talking people and I can tell you they are a straight-typing people as well. Some of their emails didn't pull their punches," he said.

Mr Scrivenor and his wife Victoria took over the hotel in 2007, little thinking they would win an international reputation for wit rather than wine. His counterblast to a bad review saw to that.

"Eileen S", from Airdrie, and her husband stayed on February 14. In a review on TripAdvisor.com, she warned: "Stay clear of this hotel was the worst experience ever."

In his response, also on the tourism website, Mr Scrivenor clearly took inspiration from Basil Fawlty's manic approach in the 1970s TV comedy show. He informed his detractor Eileen S that St Valentine's Day had always held a special place in his heart, but that "henceforth I will remember Valentines as the miserable day that I had the misfortune to meet you, your husband and your friends from England!"

Mr Scrivenor conceded that the couple had not got the room they had booked. He continued: "I appreciate that having been given a different room you then felt the need to lock yourself away ... and become incoherently drunk."

He also raised the small matter of payment, or rather the absence of any, leaving him £400 down.

A man was arrested and charged with vandalism following a disturbance at the hotel that night. A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed the man had been subsequently served with a fixed-penalty notice for antisocial behaviour. The mandatory £40 fine disappointed Mr Scrivenor "given all the trouble he caused".

Mr Scrivenor says the battle is not over however, having suffered two more malicious reviews of his nine-bedroom hotel.

He does not know whether they were attempts to provoke a repeat of his now legendary response: "Whatever the reason, TripAdvisor agreed to take one review down because it was clearly slanderous. But the other one is still up, even though I can guarantee the reviewer has not stayed at the hotel."

The hotelier said many of the messages he has received denounce the TripAdvisor system as being "so grotesquely unfair", their senders having also been at the mercy of malicious reviewers.

He said: "It appears easier to speak to North Korean politicians than anyone at TripAdvisor. But businesses have got to protect their reputations and if that means actively pursuing positive reviews then so be it. You can ask guests if they mind leaving a review. We have heard of a business that offers pints in exchange for positive reviews."

That was perfectly legitimate to his mind and should help counter malicious reviews, he said.

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor said: "We are extremely vigilant in our efforts to maintain the integrity of the reviews on our site.

"Every single review goes through our tracking system, which maps the how, what, where and when of each review, and we back that up with a team of over 200 content specialists, who work 24/7 to maintain the quality of our reviews."

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