Content Marketing Blog

What you can learn from the hotel that fined guests for negative reviews

Nowadays, consumers can find out a lot about brands online – from what products you have to offer to how you weigh up against the competition and what it’s like doing business with you.

Because of this, modern consumers now have more power than ever before and are using these options to make purchasing decisions.

Brands need to communicate with consumers on the same level if they want to build up a relationship with them, and as with any relationship, honesty is crucial.

That is why content marketing has become so effective – as it gives consumers all the information they are looking for, and lets them come to a decision on their own.

Online review sites have become an influential tool for consumers wanting more information on businesses. According to a study conducted last year by BrightLocal, 79 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.

But instead of taking the risk of negative feedback, one hotel has decided to try and control what is said about them.

New York-based hotel Union Street Guest House has a corporate policy that fines wedding guests $500 if they give a negative review on a website such as Yelp.

A $500 fine is deducted from the wedding hosts deposit for each negative review, even if it comes from the friends and family at the wedding.

In the policy, which has now been deleted, the hotel said since it is decorated in a “vintage” style, some wedding guests would not understand the decor, and subsequently give them a negative review.

This policy was posted on Reddit and quickly went viral.

In a short-sighted attempt to recover the hotel’s reputation, Union Street Guest House owner Chris Wagoner apologised on the hotel’s Facebook page (which has now also been deleted).

“Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed. This indeed was a policy of the Union Street Guest House. It was originally intended as a joke and never something I told employees to enforce,” he said.

He then went on to say, “I now realise this joke was made in poor taste and not at all funny.”

However, this quickly backfired – some previous guests commented on the post saying they had been fined by the hotel for giving negative reviews.

What we can learn from this is that trying to control what is said about your brand is hopeless, and attempting to cover it up is even worse.

Modern consumers are demanding honesty. Design your strategy to meet consumers halfway,  and in return they will give you their loyalty.

Posted by Dylan Brown

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