A hotel in Hudson, New York really doesn't appreciate it when wedding parties come through town and wind up trashing its hard-earned Yelp rating. So it's implemented a policy whereby the hotel will fine newlywed couples $500 for any negative review posted on the internet after their special day. It's an extremely aggressive, tone-deaf, and awful policy, but at least the Union Street Guest House isn't shy about anything: it's all laid out right on the hotel's website.
"If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here," the site reads. "Therefore: If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and / or attending your wedding or event."
Notice that it says any website, which means you could potentially get dinged for negative words on Foursquare, Google, TripAdvisor, and who even knows where else. If there's a review site someplace, the Union Street Guest House is probably scouring it for the slightest hint of negativity, and then tracing it back to you — regardless of whether it came from the best man, a bridesmaid, or some distant cousin. Naturally such a stupid policy has a tendency to backfire, and that's exactly what's happening. The place is getting absolutely pummeled on Yelp. Plenty of it is in response to today's bad press, but there's also evidence that the hotel has actually followed through on its insane $500 policy, or at least frequently threatened to do so.
Hours after the harsh fines were first publicized by The New York Post, Union Street Guest House pulled the aforementioned text from its website and claimed the whole controversy was the result of "a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago." So it's all a big joke, if you believe the hotel, which also now says it's never enforced the policy. Old reviews from guests definitely mention being threatened with the $500 penalty, though some of those have been updated recently. Either way, with its Yelp ranking now completely in the toilet, Union Street Guest House is trying to reverse the stream of angry reviews and avoid the unwanted spotlight.
There's still something real weird about the place, though. In place of the warning about $500 fines for bad reviews is a message imploring you to make sure friends and family don't end up hating their stay. Apparently Union Street is tremendously concerned with how it's perceived by out-of-towners.
Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer - therefore we expect you to explain that to them.
Update, 1:00PM: This story has been updated to reflect Union Street Guest House's explanation of the fines.