A Hard Social Media Lesson for Hoteliers

Don't review this hotel or ELSE!If you don’t remember anything else I’ve ever told you about social business, remember this: ALL business is social. Even if you aren’t using social media–other people are–and they talk. Oh how they do talk. Let’s take a lesson from the Union Street Guest House, a hotel in Hudson, NY who recently made the news for their policy for wedding and event parties. Guests are notified through the website that ” If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500. fine for each negative review”. Needless to say this policy has gotten some press and tons of noise on social and traditional media alike. Just to be absolutely clear, Itook this quote from archive.com dated April 14. The website now carries an edited version, also pasted below. “REVIEWS: Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer – therefore we expect you to explain that to them. USGH & Hudson are historic. The buildings here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic “vintage” way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines. (although comfortable and functional – obviously all beds are brand new) If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here.

Therefore: If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500. fine for each negative review. (Please NOTE we will not charge this fee &/or will refund this fee once the review is taken down). Also, please note that we only request this of wedding parties and for the reasons explained above.

That second paragraph now reads thusly as of today.

“We recommend that you tour our Inn before your wedding so that you will know the quality of our lodging. If you are interested in holding a portion of or all rooms in our Inn for a WEDDING and wish for a tour please contact us via email to schedule. We do not do any tours on Saturday as there are never rooms to view as they are all filled with guests. We do not discuss our policy, availability or rates on site. All correspondence for a wedding must be done via email so that each of us has a clear record of our agreement. We can only take people’s word for what wedding they are attending, therefore we are not responsible for guests booking under different names or choosing to attend another event. We will not question guests about their intentions after a reservation is made.”

Geez, why are these people in a service industry if they clearly are so defensive and about comments made about them in the first place? There are now hundreds of fake negative reviews for the hotel on Yelp, and some of them are quite funny.

What’s the lesson again? If you have a website and you post anything online it is easily shared by people using social media. You might also want to remember that websites are archived in a number of ways, so saying something on your website and then trying to take it back or say it was never there is just not smart. Trying to control the buzz once it hits social media sites is, in general, futile and makes things worse. Don’t be stupid. Holding your guests hostage for what their friends say is just that.