The Good Hotel Guide used to give an annual César award to eccentric hotels, under the euphemistic title: ‘Utterly mild enjoyable eccentricity.’ It’s a prize I would like to revive if I could only persuade my colleagues.
In my opinion, you need to be a bit mad to run a successful hospitality business. And even then, it helps to be an extrovert with a thick skin.
All this came to mind when I read about a Dublin hotel, which gleefully announced that it had jacked up its room rates to take advantage of a pop concert by Ed Sheeran, a Brit award winner, who is hot stuff to those who know about such things.
Paul Stenson, the owner of the Charleville Lodge in Dublin, pre-empted the inevitable backlash by suggesting that those unhappy with his pricing policy should try the nearest dogs’ home or homeless shelter if they wanted accommodation on the concert night.
‘These establishments,’ he noted, ‘tend to be free of charge. They may not have Norwegian duvets and flat-screen TVs….but I believe the accommodation is very adequate. At the end of the day beggars can’t be choosers.’
This approach to public relations is reminiscent of Michael O’Leary, the head of Ryanair, who likes nothing better than to slag off his passengers. Long term, I doubt if it is a winning strategy. Even Ryanair has decided to become more customer-friendly in recent months.
As for Mr Stenson, he is unrepentant after a spate of scathing reviews posted on the hotel’s TripAdvisor and Facebook pages. In retaliation, he asked supporters to post five-star reviews to boost his ratings.
‘The fact that these people have never set foot in our hotel (and hopefully never will), compromises the integrity of the review system,’ Stenson said. ‘The haters may be interested to know that if they can cheat the system, so can I.’
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