Monday, October 12, 2009

When Should Accomodation Providers Disclose Guest's Personal Details?

Cactus Kate alerted us to the saga playing out in the media of property developer and socialite, Lynne Carter being tossed and dissed from the five star luxury boutique hotel, Mollies in Auckland.

The titillating tale of a former high flyer's fall from grace is a fascinating read that appeals to the masses, however we are more interested in the role of the accommodation provider that provided tantalising tidbits to the media in the latest chapter of Carter's much publicised life.

There have been two recent stories from the Herald on Sunday with last week's Hotel bans socialite for acting like 'country bumpkin' and yesterday's Socialite back out on bail.

So what did Mollies Hotel reveal about their high profile guest?
"Mollies general manager Joanna Bourke outlined a string of problems with Carter, including slow payment of room fees, erratic behavior in the dead of night and her omnipresent dog, Louis.

"She smokes and we don't allow smoking, and her dog pisses everywhere," Bourke said. "We have chucked her out many times but she keeps coming back in the middle of the night.

Bourke said Carter had been staying in a $600-a-night suite "on and off" for the past six weeks. The hotel had now changed the locks to keep her out.

"She was smoking all the time and the dog was in the room. It was peeing everywhere.

"She would get up in the middle of the night ... She was out like till 3am, running up and down the hallways calling out 'Louis, Louis' and we had complaints from guests saying 'who is the woman running up and down the hallway screaming?'

"Or we would have functions on... It was horrible, it really was."

On another occasion, Bourke said Carter sat in the Herne Bay hotel's library, staring vacantly at the ceiling.

Bourke said that, in her opinion, Carter had "gone from someone who was well-dressed and well-spoken... and she has turned into a country bumpkin who walks around with no shoes and dirty hair".

Bourke said Mollies could not hire out her suite because of the stench of dog urine and stale cigarette smoke. "We have to air it a little bit longer to get rid of the smell."

Last Tuesday, police escorted Carter off the premises, and Bourke wants them to issue a permanent trespass notice.

"I am having lots of trouble trying to get the police up at Ponsonby to help me out to try and get a trespass notice out on her. They just don't want to have a bar of it. I mean, having her here is not good for our business."
As an accommodation provider, the main part of the contract with a guest is to provide accommodation and related services in return for consideration. However part of the gig is that the accommodation provider will never compromise a guest's right to privacy. Essentially there is an unwritten rule that an accommodation provider will act with the utmost discretion and respect the concept of "what goes on tour, stays on tour." In return the guest has certain obligations that include acting in a manner that does not cause disturbance to others and not to wreck anything!

If a guest breaks their side of the bargain, are all bets off? Should the accommodation provider then be able to retaliate by broadcasting the personal idiosyncrasies and alleged indiscretions of their guest?

We can relate to why Mollies have spoken out. Nothing infuriates an accommodation provider more when a guest turns into an arse and develops a case of misplaced entitlement by thinking that their consideration allows them to vandalise property, cause mayhem and disturb the peaceful enjoyment of others. We can understand the short burst of satisfaction when the hotel struck back and told-all to the media.

But in this case we believe the hotel got it wrong.

Not only have they broken the cardinal rule of not publicly disclosing the private details of a guest, but they have also contributed opinion and gotten personal.

Cactus Kate makes comment on her popular blog:
"I've never stayed at Mollies and now never will. Least not the place reminds me of a grandparents home in furniture and decor.

I also recommend that every married man (or woman) wanting a bit of discretion in conducting their affairs stays away from the place as well.

Even though the website rates itself for the catch phrase "Fancy a Midweek Affair"? Not bloody likely at Mollies.

For the room rate and "boutique" nature you would expect silence. Stone silence."

So, the hotel has publicly revealed that it will tittle-tattle on the indiscretions of its guests, but they have also insinuated breaches in their own security and procedures by admitting that they continually allowed a supposed crazed "P" addict to return and rub shoulders with fellow paying guests. Not a good look.

Accommodation providers should learn a valuable lesson here by adopting a simple and effective  media procedure for similar circumstances: that is STFU.

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