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Hotel Just Won't Learn Its Lesson
By: Jessica Cherok
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It’s easy to assume that the Union Street Guest House wishes it had never heard of Yelp. Or social media. Or maybe even the Internet. The New York hotel learned a very hard — and very public — lesson about customer service and social media this week.

It all started with what hotel owner, Chris Wagoner, insists was a joke. As part of the hotel’s policy, customers could be fined $500 for posting negative reviews online. The money would be deducted from wedding and event deposits, and would be kept unless the review was removed. The policy, of course, is ridiculous, and after it went viral things got even worse for the hotel.

After being inundated with even more negative reviews across social media, including falling to a one-star Yelp rating, Wagoner issued an apology.

Wagoner cites his being a novice to social media as being part of the problem. Clearly, he’s missing the point that the fine itself was the problem, not social media’s backlash over it. Even though he contends it was only a joke and never actually enforced, there seems to be no evidence it was a joke before the outcry. Furthermore, one Yelp review details the hotel’s attempt to collect from a customer who left a negative review.

Unfortunately, the Union Street Guest House doesn’t seem to know that trying to hide from social media won’t work well, either. After removing their Facebook page, another popped up in its place. The pictures, and the reviews, are not kind.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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