Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A storm in a plastic cup?

In case you missed it.

Yesterday we received two complaints about the new trendy Absolut Bar on top of the Lansmore Hotel in Gaborone. They weren't about the drinks, the service or the atmosphere but were mainly about the use of plastic cups to serve the drinks. Customers had been told that this was for safety reasons as there's a swimming pool there and they don't want broken glass everywhere.

Then the resident DJ entered to discussion as follows:
"As part of Absolut I would like to say we have had all the complaints about this. For the last time, we use them because of the pool. And everyone who complains about this at some point during their stay knocks over there drink. Yes, our drinks are expensive cause we don't want cheap people like Gabs Sun, all the hookers and everything. We cater to a classy crowd and if you don't like it then don't come. We have plenty of business (drinkers) without you. And [name removed] all our glasses/cups/tumblers, silverware, plates, ash trays, etc, are cleaned multiple times during the day and night, we make sure of that. Lastly, please don't come to management and tell us how you've been to SA or elsewhere and they have this and that and you "know better". Our head management team have over 20 years experience in the hotel and entertainment industry, working and managing hotels, restaurants, clubs, etc. in places as the UK, Dubai, Russia, USA, SA, and many more."
You can imagine the reaction. People were furious at his arrogance and condescending attitude, in particular to his slur about the patrons of the Gaborone Sun Hotel. The more charitable of us just assumed he'd been drinking.

Shortly afterwards he removed the comments but not before a number of people had copied them and reposted them, including in our Facebook group, followed by some very clear expressions of outrage.

Some hours later he posted the following apology:
"I must offer my sincere apologies for my thoughtless post. It was posted after a long night. I must stress that I in no way represent the management of Lansmore being as I am a contractor for them. The opinions I shared, however misguided, were my own and do not match in anyway those of the people who run Lansmore. Their style is inclusive and hospitable, only wanting a happy, content group of people in the business wherever that may be. Please accept my apologies. The hotel management too has taken extreme exception to my post."
Unfortunately some just thought that the last sentence meant "I've been ordered to apologise".

That's when the fun started. To begin with there were reports of online intimidation but I don't know who from. Then some relatively mild comments, including the first one on our Facebook group, were "reported" to Facebook and the posters suspended from Facebook for 12 hours. Again, I don't know who did that.

I'd spoken to the Lansmore Hotel General Manager early on and he was, I don't think I'm betraying any confidences, furious at the situation. His hotel's reputation was being badly undermined.

Within a couple of hours out came this press release.
"8th October 2013


It has been brought to our attention that certain comments were made via a number of Facebook platforms as though on the behalf of Lansmore Masa Square and/or its Management. The comments made by Devon Tyler Workman are unfounded and which are in no way representative of or shared by Lansmore.

Devon is a contractor hired in his professional capacity as a DJ and does not serve in a managerial role or as spokesperson of any form. The comments he made on Facebook were hugely misguided; they were also wrong. Absolut Gaborone at Lansmore was conceived out of a desire to offer the people in Gaborone, on indeed visiting Gaborone, somewhere different to enjoy social time in unique surroundings, providing all of our guests and patrons with an enjoyable and relaxed environment. Introduced as a safety measure which we take very seriously, the issue of the plastic glasses has not escaped us. We truly value the feedback and are already exploring ways in which glass could be used whilst at the same time avoiding accidental breakage of glass and potential harm to our guests, particularly in the swimming pool.

Let me reassure you, these are not the opinions or values of the hotel or its Management. We have already begun to address the matter internally and Mr Workman’s contract with Lansmore Masa Square is under review. On behalf of the entire Lansmore team, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused by comments made to both our valued patrons and to our fellow industry professionals at Gaborone Sun, whom we hold in high regard. We are saddened by the thought of any of our patrons and fellow professionals displeased by us in anyway and any inconvenience is highly regretted.

Lansmore Masa Square welcomes and encourages all feedback on how we can continue to work further to ensure only the best experience for all of our guests and patrons.

Rupert Elliott
General Manager
Lansmore Masa Square"
Good recovery. I still have some "issues" with the plastic cup thing but this is a mature response to the problem. It's clear, direct and decisive, it's also apologetic and conciliatory. Nicely done. That's how you deal with a PR problem. You take it on the chin, you stiffen your backbone, apologise decently and offer an assurance that it won't happen again.

Problem solved?

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