Reputation Marketing Done Horribly Wrong: How One NY Hotel Tried To Keep Bad Reviews Offline

A boutique hotel's draconian measures against bad reviews blows up in their face. Reputation Marketing Expert Justin West weighs in on the matter, sharing what went wrong and what should have happened instead.

Kansas City, USA – August 6th, 2014 /PressCable/

A boutique hotel, the Union Street Guest House, in Hudson, NY, has taken a unique position in the war on bad online reviews: Couples who book the hotel for their wedding festivities may be fined $500 for each and every negative online review left by their guests. Unfortunately, this policy just blew up in their face.

Watchdog website The Consumerist relays the account given in a Page Six article about the odd policy. According to the article, the policy states, under a header titled “reviews,” the following: “Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not . . . If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.” At publication of this piece, the official policy appears to have been replaced with this emendation, still under the heading of “review”: “We do not discuss our policy, availability or rates on site.”

Needless to say, once the internet got wind of this policy, the average review for the Union Street Guest House plummeted. As of writing, they have a 1 1/2 star rating on Yelp, with over 680 1-star reviews, many of them posted suspiciously recently.

“This is a disaster that clearly could have been avoided through fewer draconian tactics and a bit of preemptive effort on the part of the Hotel,” said Justin West, a renown reputation expert, as well as the CEO and Founder of Hundreds of Customers LLC, a local marketing company. “I can certainly sympathize with the owners and their feeling threatened,” said West. “Customers trust online reviews more than anything – even a personal recommendation,” he continued. “The first thing people do even with a referral is look the place up – to get directions, a phone number, and to read reviews. A few bad reviews are enough to sink a small business unless they take steps proactively to fix the problems that are causing the negative reviews, and then put a system in place to encourage positive reviews, not merely punitively discourage them through fines.”

West continued: “The best option is to build a positive reputation culture in your business, and when you get at great review, share first with your staff to provide encouragement, and then with the world, to show you as the expert that you are.” West provided an example of a “reputation commercial” he shot for one of his clients, a cosmetic dentist in Manhattan, NY, which can be viewed here:

Hundreds of Customers LLC specializes in using reputation marketing and management to help small businesses establish themselves as the expert authority in their niche.

Contact Info:
Name: Justin West
Organization: Hundreds of Customers LLC
Phone: 740.521.4546
Address: 1020 N 2nd St, STE 1211, Atchison, KS 66002

Release ID: 58207