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Union Street Guest House hotel negative reviews go virally bad on Yelp and Facebook

One of the odder hotel stories this week is the response to a news story on August 4 in the NY Post that an upstate New York hotel, Union Street Guest House in Hudson had a $500 fine clause for negative hotel reviews posted online by guests of any wedding party booked at the hotel.

In the past two days this story went viral and has made Huffington Post, Slate, The Guardian UK, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) and many, many more news outlets.

Yelp, that review hurt

Hundreds of negative hotel reviews on Yelp over the past two days brought the hotel’s rating down to 1.5 stars. Apparently there have been more than 700 fake hotel reviews removed from Yelp. There were still plenty of funny reviews to read this morning when I checked Union Street Guest House on Yelp.

Yelp Union Street Guest House

References to the $500 penalty for negative reviews have been removed from the hotel’s website and social media channels since the story broke.

Even the Union Street Guest House Facebook page has suffered in its hotel rating with 1.2 stars. Nearly 1,000 one-star reviews are currently posted on the page, almost all within the past 48 hours.

Union Street Hotel Facebook

Union Street Guest House hotel reviews have plummeted due to hundreds of one-star ratings posted over the past 48 hours.

Union Street Facebook reviews

Union Street Guest House responded to the viral stories yesterday, August 5 on its Facebook page.

Read on for a 10% Discount offer at Union Street Guest House

Dear guests of Union Street Guest House,

Yesterday Union Street Guest House went viral for all the wrong reasons. News articles, blog posts and social media posts were published about our policy to charge wedding parties a $500 fee for every negative review.

Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed. This indeed was a policy of the Union Street Guest House. It was originally intended as a joke and never …something I told employees to enforce. However, since it was listed on our website it did represent an official policy. I now realize this joke was made in poor taste and not at all funny. This is no longer a policy of Union Street Guest House and we have taken it off of our website.

I’ve also read the reviews from guests saying we tried to enforce the negative reviews policy on them and for that I apologize. It was never my intention for anyone to pay this fine. The instances where an attempt was made to collect the fees were a breakdown in communication between my staff and me, and for that I accept full responsibility.

Including the fine for negative reviews as part of our policy was a mistake. That’s not the type of business that we run. It was a case of a joke gone very, very bad.

The internet, social media and review sites are very powerful platforms and this situation has taught me valuable lessons about them. Feedback from our guests is very important to us. I admit that at times it can be tough to see a negative review and I could do a better job of taking that criticism in stride. We value each and every one of you and want to hear about your experience with Union Street Guest House, even if it’s a negative experience. Your reviews give us an opportunity to improve our service and make the Union Street Guest House experience better for everyone.

I’m a novice when it comes to the internet and digital communication. My background is in music and hospitality. That’s by no means an excuse, but a realization that I need to learn and continually educate myself on technologies that affect my business. I vow to do that moving forward to avoid mistakes like this in the future.

All of the team here at Union Street Guest House invites you to come visit us in Hudson, New York, and give us a chance to show you who we really are – a group dedicated to making your stay in the beautiful Hudson area a positive and memorable one.

Please also accept my offer of a 10% discount on a visit to Union Street Guest House within the next three months as further apology. Just mention this letter. And I encourage you to leave a review about your experience (positive or negative) after your stay.

I hope we see you in Hudson in the future.

Chris Wagoner
Union Street Guest House

Is the old adage true that any publicity is good publicity?


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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