Last week, we discussed Hilton and Marriott’s decision to change their cancellation policy, thus driving more revenue with last-minute cancellation fees. But there’s a hotel in England that is taking the idea of extra fees way too far. Or is it?
The BBC reported that the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool recently charged a couple £100 for writing a bad review about their property on TripAdvisor.
In their review, Tony and Jan Jenkinson called the hotel a “dirty rotten stinking hovel,” noting lack of parking (despite being advertised as “ample”), old/uncomfortable/broken furnishings, no hot water, faulty wiring, and an unsympathetic staff. All of which are standard things that other travelers want to know before they book a hotel. In other words: these are the reasons why hotel reviews exist in the first place.
And when you scroll through the hotel’s TripAdvisor page, the Jenkinsons are not alone in their complaints. The majority of other customers had the same complaints, while others admitted “you get what you pay for.”
So why–and how–were the Jenkinsons charged £100 extra? And were all of the nay-sayers also charged? Apparently the hotel has a clause in its contract warning guests that “For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”
Of course, the couple didn’t fully read all of the fine print.
Obviously this is a violation of free speech that spotlights the fact that a hotel doesn’t want to take responsibility and fix their problems in order to start gaining positive reviews. But on the other hand, we all know that a bad review can be damaging. And certainly a page of bad reviews will prevent others from booking a stay.
So is a clearly-stated fee a fair way to safeguard against bad marketing? Or is it just the lazy way to blackmail a guest into either not saying anything at all or to sugarcoat how bad of an experience they really had?