There is no doubt that hotels and retail will go to great lengths to avoid negative publicity.
It’s in their DNA.
In many instances, whether or not a guest or customer’s complaint is legitimate or warranted, companies, and hotels in particular, will “buy” the guests good will or silence by providing an upgrade or some valued service at a discount.
But with the clout inherent in Social Media, many hotel guests and customers are playing pirate, holding management and brands hostage to guest threats of posting negative reviews and comments on social media platforms.
Perhaps these same people were the schoolyard bully or overbearing work supervisors, but armed with the inflated sense of importance Social Media tools can confer, they’re holding hotels hostage to their whims and caprices.
The trend to threaten with bad reviews or postings if the guest doesn’t get his or her way is an abuse of power and undermines the value of Social Media, and the implied good will inherent in it.
Many of these attacks, says Hotelmarketing.com, are taking place right on the property, like the guest who Tweeted her dissatisfaction with some aspect of the property’s service, before she even spoke to the staff, denying them the chance to correct the problem.
When offered a complimentary beverage for her problems, one guest insisted on a complimentary meal, the web site reports, and not once, but twice.
Hoteliers have long dealt with difficult or unreasonable guests, but the new brand of Social Network lout has complicated the matter.
Realizing how sensitive management is to criticisms, Hotelmarketing.com asks if this new customer isn’t “intoxicated by their social media clout, bristling with indignation and a sense of entitlement.”
Daniel Edward Craig, a superb blogger, also points to the customer who is all smiles at check-out, but slams the hotel as soon as he gets to his computer and signs on to Twitter or Yelp or Facebook.
Some in the industry are fighting back.
Insidescoop tells the story of a Houston restaurant that threw a customer out in the middle of dinner because the customer was badmouthing the bartender, on Twitter, even as he was doing his best to serve them well.
As Craig points out, it may be easy to applaud such actions by the restaurant , but throwing a customer out flies in the face of the values of the hospitality industry.
But so does holding well-meaning staff and management hostage to unreasonable demands and power plays.
Craig’s post offers beleaguered staff some helpful suggestions about how to interact with and monitor Social Media, but the real answer is a return to civility and fair play by the customer.
Giving power to the consumer is a good, a needed reversal of how things have been for years.
But there’s never a good reason to abuse power regardless of what side of the check-in desk you’re at.