Does Anyone Else Think This PR Request Is Weird?


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At the beginning of December I published a post in which I called out a number of hotels in Miami for the resort fees they add to their nightly rates and for the less-than-obvious way in which some of these fees are displayed.

In the post I pointed out that the W South Beach doesn’t make any mention of resort fees on its homepage or on its rates page, the rate details page doesn’t mention them either and neither does the “cost summary” page…..but the hotel charges resort fees of $35/night.

It’s a rip off.

I also called out Hyatt’s Confidante Miami Beach for being less than transparent about its resort fees and also for what it claims the resort fees are meant to cover:

Apparently guests at the Confidante Miami beach have to pay extra for the chairs the hotel provides by the pool and on the beach, they have to pay extra to use the hotel gym, and extra for a bike too.

Why?

Why is a beach-adjacent hotel with the word “beach” in its name charging guests for beach chairs? Why does this hotel get to charge for the use of the gym when its an accepted free amenity at most other properties? Why are guests being charged for a bicycle and helmet when, at a guess, most will probably never go near one of the hotel’s bikes?

I think we can probably agree that the post wasn’t exactly a great advert for hotels that charge a resort fee and it certainly wasn’t a great advert for the W South Beach or the Confidante Miami Beach….so imagine my surprise when I got this email from a PR company:

Hi there,

I hope you are doing well. I’d like to thank you for mentioning The Confidante recently on Time To Legislate: This Hotel Rip-Off Needs To Stop on travelingformiles.com. We appreciate it!

I noticed that you forgot to link to our website when you mentioned us. Would you please consider adding our link to the post? Our link is: [redacted – I’m not about to give them a link!]

Thanks in advance, and if you ever need any more info on The Confidante , I’d be happy to supply you with content, images, or video.

Thanks again!

Erm….what’s going on?

I checked the email address from which the message was sent and it confirmed that the request came from a genuine PR company and that it was the same PR company that contacted me in the past about adding links to the Confidante.

The last time a link request was made the post I’d written was one about the Confidante joining Hyatt’s portfolio so I can understand why the PR company would get in touch….but this time I have no idea what they’re thinking.

I re-read my post just to see if I inadvertently made the Confidante look good or if anything I wrote may encourage people to book at the hotel but I can’t find anything positive.

The post clearly calls out the Confidante for charging less than transparent resort fees for things that shouldn’t come at an additional cost….so why is a PR company asking me to include a link to the property in the post??!!

The person who wrote the email even included the title of the post in her request (“Time To Legislate: This Hotel Rip-Off Needs To Stop”) and I’m really struggling to understand why a PR company would want one of their clients linked to a post whose title has the words “Rip off” in it and whose content makes them look pretty bad.

I wondered if perhaps this was a PR company for a rival property (I can’t see Hyatt or the Confidante in the PR company’s list of clients) but I’m ruling out that possibly on the grounds that these guys have been in touch before and, on that occasion, a link to the Confidante would have been a positive thing for the property.

I know that inbound links from external websites can boost the Google ranking of a page (in this case that would be the Confidante’s home page) but surely they can’t be so desperate for inbound links that they’ll accept links from sites that are calling them out?

I know they say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity but this is verging on the ridiculous 🙂

Anyone have any suggestions as to what’s going on?

8 COMMENTS

  1. Seems fairly obvious that a human did not write that email – it was likely auto-generated by a script that runs searches for content that mentions their client.

    • Wouldn’t it have to be a pretty advanced script to be able to check the GDPR box that the blog contact form requires a user to check before a message can be sent?

  2. If not completely automated it could just be the job of an intern or some entry level pay position who could care less about reading an article.

    Along that same kind of thought, maybe the PR firm has told it’s people to respond to any an all mentions of the hotel so they can get their numbers up. They may show the Hotel that they sent out 1,000 emails asking for links and got a 60% positive response rate. The management wouldn’t know that these numbers weren’t all from positive articles. Even if they did see a link in a negative article, unless they contacted the poster or read this exact article about getting the email, they would have no way of knowing if the link was requested or just added by the author.

  3. I think in the case of the W Marriott property, Marriott will whatever it takes to f**k over their clients with no concern about it or the consequences whatsoever. We were guests at the Royal Hawaiian during the Kyoya Hotels/Marriott strike this past October. If you’re interested in the details if that horror show, email me privately and I’ll share it with you. We never stay in Hyatt’s so cant speak from personal experience. The suggestion that the response was automated sounds very possible. If so, proves just how out of touch they are.

  4. “I know that inbound links from external websites can boost the Google ranking of a page (in this case that would be the Confidante’s home page) but surely they can’t be so desperate for inbound links that they’ll accept links from sites that are calling them out?”

    Yes they are. Google doesn’t look at the context, it just sees another link in from a high trafficked site and bumps up the hotel in its search rankings.

    They will pay you, by the way. Email and ask for $50. Unlikely to get more but there is budget for $50.

    • Thanks for the tip! I’m very tempted to milk them for some cash but the part of me that really, really dislikes hotels that add resort fees is stopping me right now 🙂

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