Editor's Blog

What an odious little scheme at Blackpool’s Broadway Hotel

You really have to wonder at the stupidity of some people. How often do we read in the news that someone has come up with a crackpot scheme which is a disaster waiting to happen?

In this particular instance I am referring to the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, which recently decided it would charge customers £100 if they posted a bad review of their stay online. First – and it’s worth pointing this out – there was a precedent that any hotelier worth his salt could have learned from. A similar scheme by a hotel in the US made major mainstream news earlier this year and resulted in the owner having to issue an apology and claim that it was a joke, but not before a lot of reputational damage had already been done. The news travelled all over the world.

Second, a hotelier whose response to negative feedback is to try to blackmail guests into silence cannot realistically be described as knowing how to run a hospitality business. If you have put on such a poor show that a guest thinks your hotel is a “filthy, dirty, rotten, stinking hovel“, then surely the first reaction should be one of alarmed introspection, not an automated card-charging exercise?

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But in the case of the Broadway Hotel, the owner or the general manager cannot be a stranger to this kind of reaction from their guests – else why does a barely-legal punitive measure such as this exist in their terms and conditions? What hotel with the remotest shred of respectability would conceive of the idea, let alone codify it in the small print?

I hope to goodness the couple involved have the gumption to take this matter considerably further than a phone call to the local Trading Standards authority (who, incidentally, have now told the hotel in question that it is not allowedquelle surprise). Were I in their shoes, I would be exploring whether the clause was not only unfair, but constituted a form of theft, and I would be taking to every reviews website I could find to explain not only how appalling my hotel stay was, but to tell the world that this odious little policy is written into the rulebook.

Ultimately, the problem I see in this hotel’s behaviour is that that it is the diametric opposite to ‘good faith’, a social more which governs and enables good business. One hopes the authorities see fit to force the Broadway Hotel to refund every customer to which it has meted out this measure.

UPDATE: The Council released this statement to Hotel Owner:

Cllr Gillian Campbell, cabinet member responsible for public protection, said: “Our trading standards team became aware of this issue last week. As a result, we spoke to the hotel owner and asked for the policy to be removed, which has now happened.

 “This is a unique case and not one that we have come across before. It is worth remembering that the vast majority of hotels in Blackpool are reputable and provide a good customer service to tourists who visit the resort. However, in any cases where people have a complaint about their stay, they can contact their local trading standards office or the national Citizens Advice Bureau on 03454 04 05 06.

 “When people are visiting Blackpool, we always recommended people book accredited hotels through our tourist information service.”

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