A Fine for Bad Reviews? Fine With Me! Hotelier Defends the Anti-Yelp Inn
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Union Street Guest House’s big online review controversy. The Hudson, NY hotel is getting slammed on social media for its reported policy of charging wedding parties $500 if a guest posts a negative review online. Since the New York Post reported on the policy, the hotel’s Yelp page has been flooded with complaints (the Union Street Guest house is claiming the “policy” was a joke).
Joke or not, Union Street’s reported policy doesn’t have everyone shaking their fists in anger. There are small hoteliers everywhere nodding approval, even if only among ourselves.
I’m a travel writer and a small lodging business owner. I work both sides of the check-in desk. I can’t speak for the Union Street Guest House, but I can tell you generally that when a small hotel has a whopping fee, it is its way of saying it doesn’t want your business if you plan on doing the thing it charges for. Hotels that charge fees for pets or smoking don’t want the fees; they sincerely don’t want pets or smoking in their facility.
Lobby at the Union Street Guesthouse in Hudson, New York (Photo: unionstreetguesthouse.com)
A fee for bad reviews isn’t about the money either. It’s about one hotel not wanting the headache of dealing with reviews that may not even be accurate or are written by someone who should have better aligned his expectations with his reservation. You may not know it, but most review sites censor management responses. We are not allowed to be nearly as negative as our reviewers are.
Union Street’s policies are proof that it has fought a battle with wedding guests that found the facility lacking. Think about this for a minute. You’re invited to your niece’s wedding at a hotel that she chose. She’s been there and seen the rooms and the grounds. She dealt with the proprietors. And she CHOSE them. You go to the wedding but find the hotel not to your liking, so you go home and write a nasty review about the very quirkiness that your niece fell in love with when she decided to have the most important day of her life take place there.
Yelp reviews for Union Street Guest House (Courtesy: Yelp.com)