The Union Street Guest House, an inn in Hudson that caters to the Catskills country wedding set, set off an internet firestorm today when the New York Post's Page Six wrote an article about the inn's strategy for keeping negative reviews off of Yelp: fining the whiners.
The hotel's policy, which has since been removed from its website, threatened to fine newlyweds $500 each time one of their wedding guests complained about the hotel on review sites, according to TIME, which has the text of the policy.
The strategy backfired spectacularly today. As of 5:30 p.m. today, 16 hours after the NY Post's article broke, hundreds of bad, one-star reviews crowded the hotel's Yelp page. In addition, news organizations near and far jumped on the bandwagon: 78 articles -- including in the Washington Post, ABC News, and the U.K's Daily Mail -- had excoriated the innkeepers for their policy.
Update 8/6/14: The Register-Star did a fine job reporting a follow-up to Monday's viral story today. Among the new info the Register-Star dug up: the owner of the Union Street Guest House is a former Hudson alderman, Chris Wagoner, and he has apologized for the policy. He is also offering a discount for new guests:
As for the guest house, Wagoner also offered any future patrons a discount in light of recent events.
Please also accept my offer of a 10 percent discount on a visit to Union Street Guest House within the next three months as further apology. Just mention this (apology). 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.