A hotel in Hudson, New York, the Union Street Guest House, will reportedly fine brides $500 for every negative review posted by any of her guests after the event. The amount is deducted from their deposit with the chance to be refunded if the review is taken down. According to the article I read on BusinessInsider.com and elsewhere the policy is openly stated on their website.
OMG! This is probably the worst social media blunder of all time and moreover it shows the mentality of the mindset of this organization. I have read some doozies in my time about how different companies manage their online reputation, but this one might take the cake…wedding cake that should be smeared and smooshed all over their ridiculous policy supporting faces.
My first reaction was that no one could agree to this. But, unfortunately, they do. In fact in the section on wedding tours, it says they do not have any tours on Saturdays because the hotel is always booked with…you guessed it, wedding guests. I would call them and ask them about it, but it clearly states in their policy that they don’t talk about this policy (or their rates or availability, apparently) on site. Only email. And don’t get me started on the cancellation policy…suffice it to say that I laughed out loud when I read it. How do places like this stay in business?
The more I read, the more exasperated I feel.
In our Naïve to Natural assessment, we talk about how customer-centric different organizations are. They begin with Naïve, which is not at all customer-centric to transitional, and then enlightened, and finally natural, the most customer-centric organizations. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, Ryanair is Naïve, most organzations are Transactional, (they treat the Customer as if there were a transaction,) and Apple is Enlightened, and Disney, Natural.
Naïve organizations are focused inwardly, on what operations needs and couldn’t care less what customers want from the experience. When we teach this model, we ask people to imagine a shopkeeper who is so focused on stacking the shelves and managing their store they constantly have their backs turned to the customers lined up at the counter. In fact Customers are an annoyance as they constantly buy things and empty their shelves. Naïve customers are not concerned with how their policies affect the experience or how customers feel when they are interacting with them.
Naïve organizations can thrive, believe it or not. There must be certain circumstances present, however, to facilitate that success. These include exclusivity, high demand, and lack of competition. Most organizations do not benefit from these circumstances, particularly in today’s highly competitive and globalized economic environments. As a result, more organizations are focused on differentiating themselves based on their excellent customer experience.
It goes almost without saying the Union Street Guest House is Naïve. They will be added to the examples of a poor Customer Experience. They dictate all the terms, have no interest in making sure their experience is satisfactory for any of the guests, refuse to discuss it face to face, and take their customer’s money if he or she fails to comply. My guess is this must be one fantastic wedding location or no one in their right mind would subject themselves to this kind of treatment.
What frustrates me the most is that just because no one says the experience wasn’t great doesn’t make it great. Threatening and badgering brides to send out an awkward email begging everyone to be polite to the hotel in their reviews does not make an experience 5 stars. It reminds me of the rental car representative who gave me a discount so I would change my negative rating from a six to a ten. Saying it’s a ten when it isn’t doesn’t fix the experience that is still a six. The problem isn’t my review. The problem is their managers’ or owners’ view of the world leads them to produce such a policy where you bribe a customer to change their rating with a discount in the first place.
If you do not mind the customer experience and how it makes your customers feel when you have them, customers will not have loyalty to you when there is another option. No customer loyalty is the eventuality of any organization that is Naïve.
Considering what I am reading here and the circles I inhabit, I will likely never be invited to a wedding at the Union Street Guest House. Goodness knows if I were, I would never post a negative review about them—at least without first writing a check for $500 made out to the bride and groom. Read here the backlash of negative reviews they have now received. I can tell you with absolute certainty that when the happy day arrives that either of my girls tells me they are getting married that I won’t be exploring my options at this hotel. I have too many opinionated friends that I need to invite!
What are your thoughts on this policy: good idea or ridiculous manipulation?