How to Ruin Your Hotel's Reputation in One Easy Step

James Lintern

Dec 2014 ⋅ 3 min read

A New York hotel finally decided that enough is enough and established a policy that would put an end to bad online reviews once and for all.

The solution? Charge anyone who leaves negative comments online $500.

But it doesn’t end there… should a family member or guest at your wedding decide to leave a negative review, you’re equally liable for the fine.

Here is the exact policy found on the hotel’s website:

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.

Interestingly, it seems this trend has even started to catch on across the Atlantic, here in the UK, with one Blackpool hotel deciding to automatically charge this couple £100 after they left a bad review on TripAdvisor. Looking through the hotel's previous reviews it looks like there are plenty of people who might get the same treatment.

So how did this work out for the New York hotel? As you could probably guess, not very well.

The hotel got slammed with bad press. Furious past guests, many of whom posted on Yelp, brought their rating down to 1.5 stars, and their online reputation was down the drain.

yelp-reviews; review1 review2

For a business in an industry where customer reviews play a huge role in the buying decisions of prospective guests, this kind of feedback can be enough to sink the ship. Ironically, that's just the kind of thing they were trying to prevent.

So how does a hotel prevent people from giving bad reviews? The simple answer is, you can’t.

If you provide the type of service that leaves guests dissatisfied, angry, ripped off or just generally underwhelmed, then you will simply attract negative reviews, fine or no fine.

However, since you are in control of the service you provide, you can do everything you can to knock your guests' socks off.

Go to the ends of the earth to make every guest feel welcomed, comfortable and cared for, and you will attract positive reviews like bees to honey.

Of course, there will always be one or two guests that you simply can't please, no matter how hard you try. Consequently, one or two less than glowing reviews may appear occasionally. In these situations you simply need to reply to the review maturely and thoughtfully, and move on.

If genuine concerns are raised, you can use the feedback to rectify any problems and put processes in place to make sure they don't occur again in the future.

If you feel like you're providing a top class service and your online write-ups don't reflect that, you can encourage guests to review their stay.

Asking for reviews can be something of a grey area. It's very important that you don't incentivise positive reviews by offering any kind of reward or payment. Even if you did, more often than not, these reviews will seem fake and not genuine, and it's likely they'll be deleted anyway.

At the end of the day, the best reviews are those that are earned, and the best way to earn them is to provide a service that people can't not talk about.