According to PIX 11, a hotel in New York’s Hudson River Valley posted a new guest policy on it’s website that claimed to implement a $500 fine for negative reviews left online.
“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 dollar fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH place on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding even 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.”
The hotel quickly removed the bad review policy from its website within hours of posting it, and published this notice on its Facebook page.
“The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.”
However, a single Yelp reviewer from Alexandria, VA stated that the $500 fine really was being enforced. The individual published an excerpt on Yelp from an email sent to him from the upstate New York hotel. It read as follows:
“Please note that your recent on-line review of our Inn will cost the wedding party that left us a deposit $500. This money be charged via the deposit they have left us unless/until it is removed. Any other or future reviews will also be charged to the wedding party (bride & groom) from the guarantee they have provided us.”
Since that Yelp review was left, the hotel’s Yelp rating has been hit with multiple 1-star reviews, bringing the establishment’s overall rating to 1 out of 5. Not exactly the result you get when you invest in a comprehensive online reputation management campaign or an effective review posting program.
Instead of punishing Internet users for leaving bad reviews, try being proactive about getting good ones. In other words, keep customers, patients, or clients happy before they have the chance to have a bad experience. Of course, it’s not possible to keep everyone happy – but if you get nine 5-star reviews for every single 1-star review, you’ll be much more insulated from that bad review!
Removing bad reviews is also not recommended. Instead, invest in a review posting campaign to get positive reviews posted to bury the negative ones. If negative testimonials are pushed farther down the page, visitors will be much less likely to view them and will be more willing to trust your more recent, visible reviews.
Clearly, people don’t like their right to post information online messed with – it didn’t end up very well for this upstate New York hotel. Don’t make the same mistake they did – invest in reputation management and a review posting campaign before resorting to negative online tactics.