This is how it is done: the perfect way to handle organizational misconduct.
Consumerist blew the whistle on the Grand Hotel in Dallas for blatantly attempting to bribe patrons into posting favorable reviews of their stays there online. A reader had alerted the consumer hawk website to a sign displayed in the hotel’s lobby offering $3 to $5 to guests who wrote raves on travel sites like Expedia, Priceline, and others. The sign required “immediate proof of review,” said the bribe amount would vary according to the number of websites that posted it, and noted that all must be “positive, favorable” reviews” approved by mgmt.”
The web site soon learned that the whole scheme had never been “approved by mgmt.” The hotel’s representative sent this e-mail to Consumerist:
“[T]hank you for bringing this directly to my attention. As soon as I saw your email I did a little digging to find out about more about the sign and how it got posted at our hotel unbeknownst to me. What I found out was that this sign was posted by one of our front desk staff members while I was out of town for a few days. The team member was trying to go above and beyond based on a staff meeting we had a couple of weeks ago where I asked the team to try and come up with some creative ways to encourage and get more user reviews for the hotel. By creative ways I wasn’t thinking this but that’s something I will speak with the team about.
“Offering any type of incentive for reviews is not acceptable or right in any form or fashion. We do not condone or approve of this in any way. We have several new team members so we’ll complete this internal investigation and provide additional training measures and process changes to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again in the future. In finding out what happened I learned that the sign had been up a little over a week or so and is now in the shredder.”
The hotel’s representative went on to say that his team would contact the websites listed on the sign, including TripAdvisor, Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia, and Hotels.com, and “inform them of what occurred and to ask that they remove any reviews posted in the last two weeks just to be safe.” The e-mail concluded,
“Once again, our hotel apologizes for any issues this may have caused with any current or past guests who informed you of this. We do have a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy and we would be happy to make amends with anyone who was impacted by this. As I said we will rectify this with the online companies immediately and I truly appreciate you bringing this to our attention.”
This is the perfect ethical corporate response.
The hotel’s management…
1. Acknowledged and condemned the conduct
2. Ended the misconduct by taking down the sign.
4. Accepted responsibility for the misconduct, by attributing it to poor communication to the staff.
5. Took remedial steps, including contacting the websites that may have received reviews, and pledging amends to any guest or others affected.
6. Planned measures to ensure that similar mistakes would not recur, including clarifying policy, instituting better training.
7. Thanked Consumerist for bringing the problem to its attention.
And a “well done” to Consumerist, too.
Facts: Consumerist 1, Consumerist 2
10 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Grand Hotel Dallas”
“The team member was trying to go above and beyond”….
and they did not throw a well meaning but errant employee under the bus like so many companies do in a situation like this
Yes, that’s what impressed me the most.
They were able to fox almost all of the damage.
Had the wrongdoing amounted to something akin to what Dateline NBC did with respect to General Motors, a different response would be ethically required.
This was one complaint on a website. The Hotel could have taken down the sign and said nothing at all, or blamed it on one bad egg, or any number of things far short of the measures it took. This was just good business practice—deriding it as “foxing” is uncalled for.
I wish your comment page had an edit feature.
I know, I know. Remember, you can always email me and I’ll make the edit for you. A lot of commenters do.
I am not sure we have the whole story here.
How could a “front desk staff” take the liberty to offer cash as an incentive?
I would imagine that any offer of cash payment would require authorization from management. Question: Do we know if any money was paid?
With discretionary spending, quantity of money allowed to be used used is tied very much to level of authority had. Who’s to say a “Front Desk Staff” (which may include the desk supervisor) doesn’t have a small modicum of discretionary spending apportioned to them?
I’d be surprised if the front desk staff couldn’t make minor bill adjustments. Consumerist has printed a couple CSR tipoffs showing the amount they are allowed to adjust bills.
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