Should Hilton have the last word on this TripAdvisor takedown?

Have a look at the TripAdvisor reviews of the Hilton Garden Inn in Tampa.

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You might notice a scathing write-up by Christian Crane, a.k.a. DutchOven, who referred to his stay as “a comedy of errors.” From a non-working air conditioner to abundant insects, to shoddy housekeeping, he had almost nothing nice to say about the property.

In response, the hotel offered to refund one night’s stay and moved him to a different room, where the hot water didn’t work, the bathroom sink leaked and there were pools of water on the carpet.

But that’s not why he’s upset. He’s mad at the general manager’s rebuttal, which reads as follows:

You complained of ants and our maintenance team visited your room after your complaint and found sugary food left out.

You live in Florida as do I and no matter how you attempt to stop ants they will be there with an open invitation when food is left out.

I really wish you would have approached me and we could have spoken about your major concerns in person.

Now that’s what I call reputation management. But Crane is unimpressed.

“Simply put, the GM has taken liberties to respond to negative TripAdvisor reviews with whatever information makes him and his hotel look to be free of error and wrongdoing,” he says. “In my case, a GM at a Hilton Garden Inn lied on a public website to make me, a loyal Hilton Gold member, look like an inconsiderate, impatient guest who turns hotel rooms into places of squalor. This absolutely infuriates me.”

A review of the postings on this hotel suggests that the general manager is unusually active on the TripAdvisor page, either thanking the reviewers who leave a positive review or defending his property when they didn’t like their stay.

But did he cross a line when he responded to Crane?

I suggested Crane ask Hilton directly. Here’s what it told him:

I do apologize, but after further investigation the hotel does not have the ability to remove comments once posted.

The comments are first reviewed by TripAdvisor and if the hotel’s comments fit their guidelines, they will post them.

TripAdvisor manages this site and the various functions associated with the site, not Hilton.

I do apologize for the inconvenience that the situation has caused you. You can reach out to TripAdvisor directly to see if they can provide additional information.

OK, so Hilton isn’t going to do anything. And TripAdvisor won’t delete the review, because it didn’t violate its guidelines.

Crane wants me to get involved and compel Hilton to remove the review.

I have a little experience with unwanted reviews, and I think it all depends on where they appear. If Crane ran his own review website, he could delete this feedback and be well within his rights. But this may be a matter between him, Hilton and TripAdvisor.

I’m not sure if my involvement would fix anything. But I’m not opposed to trying.

Should I take Christian Crane's case?

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24 thoughts on “Should Hilton have the last word on this TripAdvisor takedown?

  1. Crane complained and the hotel responded by trying to make it right when Crane was there, by apologizing, and then with a rebuttal indicating one mitigating factor in their own defense. All that seems like a fair war of words to me: Crane made his points and Hilton theirs and honestly, Crane connected a lot more. But Hilton apparently connected just once and now Crane suffers sufficient butthurt to try to stifle Hilton’s and Crane’s own fair speech? Sorry, friend, but TA is well within its rights to let the review and response stand.

  2. Reading the hotel manager’s response, I don’t see that they rebutted anything except an issue about ants – in which case, they may have a point (thank heavens I do not live in Fla and have no knowledge of such things).

    The manager also says that Crane should have contacted him. Assuming Crane did not attempt to contact a manager, it seems like a valid comment.

    As to Hilton not taking down the response… why should they. They are entitled to respond to user comments, and apparently, that property does so actively. Isn’t that what we want?

  3. Leave it be. I say this for multiple reasons. First, if you dish it, you should be able to take it. Lest I sound unsympathetic to someone who had a bad experience – I encourage people to click the link and read his post on trip advisor. Though he did list positives, it was a laundry list of complaints. There isn’t much a business can do to keep people like that happy. Could the hotel managers response been more polite…yes, but what he wrote isn’t fundamentally untrue. If you leave sugary snacks out in a tropical climate, you will get ants. The hotel isn’t blameless, but neither is he…and by his own post they did apply pesticide to try and resolve the issue.

    Second, reviews and responses of this nature speak for themselves. If I read or see a review like that as a consumer, I’m going to skip right over it, assuming the person is hard to please. Maybe that’s true in his case, maybe not, but that’s the impression I get from lengthy reviews like this. Equally, responses by management play a role. Are they responsive, professional, and polite? In this case, I’d say they were. I read more frustration than anything, honestly. I wouldn’t automatically skip over this hotel based on this response alone.

    Personally I tend to take trip advisor reviews – or any crowd sourced reviews – with a grain of salt. There are going to be really bad ones, and really good ones, but what is the trend?

    The bottom line on this to me is everyone in this could’ve done better – him with his original review and the manager with a response. With trip advisor, never post angry or upset because it is a matter of permanent record unless it violates their guidelines.

    1. I tried to read the review but Gave up at “…incorrect TV channel listing and a gorgeous view of lobby roof with its rooftop A/C units…” At that point I skipped to the response and noted the bit about the points not being deposited to his account… After just 2 days!

      1. I wanted to scream at the same time. Nitpicking if thats thats the only 2 problems.

        But my overwhelming thought was “didn’t he read reviews before he booked?” It’s rated as a 2 star hotel and thats what he got. Why would you expect anything better? The warnings were clearly all over TA.

  4. If there are continual lousy reviews on TA about a property, people can read between the lines and see how the manager may be lying or rescinding to unflattering reviews instead of fixing the problems. Crane shouldn’t worry about the response because as a reader the managers response to one of the many complaints makes it seem the un responded issues are true.

    I also hope Crane reads reviews on hotels he may consider using before he books them going forward to avoid problems in the future.

  5. I followed the link to the actual review and read this: ” moved to third room – incorrect TV channel listing and a gorgeous view of lobby roof with its rooftop A/C units.” Then I skimmed the rest. Who complains about an incorrect tv channel listing? Seriously? That speaks volumes.

    I actually was just forced to stay in a hotel for over a week when we had to move unexpectedly. And the TV channel listing in the room was incorrect. Honestly, same exact thing happened to me last week. And I certainly didn’t go posting reviews complaining about it!

    He admits the staff was very polite and friendly and bent over backwards trying to accommodate him. I’m sure it was a difficult situation for them based on the review, I still can’t believe someone would complain about an incorrect tv channel listing. And I also am very suspicious of someone that is only interested in presenting their own side of the story. He was fine with posting the information, but someone else shouldn’t be able to reply? And if they do reply, the entire thing should be removed? That’s basically saying that I want to tell you what I think, but I don’t want you to hear what someone else has to say. If it wasn’t online, but an in person conversation, that’s the equivalent of telling someone your opinion and forcing them out of the room when someone else starts stating theirs. Not exactly the best type of guest at a dinner party!

  6. As with any poll which seems to be going one sided, I’m curious why the minority voted the way they did. As of this writing, we have 4 yes votes to 49 neative votes. Any yes voters out there want to chime in as to why they voted the way they did?

      1. Fair enough. But, how is Chris fighting this case where the response seems to be fair, and the review is nit picky and mean going to help resolve the problem you are concerned about.

  7. Unless the management’s post was extremely ugly or libelous (I don’t think it qualifies as either), then NO!

    …and complaining about an incorrect tv channel listing? Really?

  8. I think you should because there are far too many cases of hotel managers being dismissive of major concerns or trying to minimize them and have them look like an isolated incident when it is the norm. Tripadvisor should take a dim view of this sort of thing, it does infuriate people and diminishes the value of the site.

  9. When hotels screw up, they screw up big, and it is not hard to get a big list because they are often guilty of a huge amount of things. I just stayed in a Residence Inn where the furniture was too worn out, and they also had a broken door lock in the back so anyone could get into the hotel at anytime..through my whole stay. And they KNEW about it.

    Whether or not this particular reviewer complained too much is not so much of a point as hotels being dismissive. So how did the ants “smell” the food that was left out? They could smell it all the way down the hall and out the doorway?

    1. I used to live in a tropical climate, and boy do I wish I knew how ants could find the tiniest bit of food and get in. But they did. One scout ant would find it and the next thing you knew there was a trail of hundreds. The only thing that worked was sealing everything, taking the garbage out daily, killing any you saw, and laying down a perimeter of spray around windows and doors every three months. Unless you’ve lived in a tropical climate…you just don’t know how many of them there are in one. They’re amazing creatures, really.

    2. Your point is exactly why there are all these opinions. I personally would agree with you that a broken back door lock is dangerous and would be very annoyed that the hotel didn’t care to fix it but someone else might feel that it doesn’t matter as long as the door to their room locks. You feel the furniture is worn out and may complain while I may feel it’s acceptable for the price I paid. Crane probably had valid complaints but there was so much emotional barbs in the review that it made him appear to be nitpicky. The hotel could have been dismissive or he could have been impossible to please. But either way for him to seek out help just because the manager made a short (unemotional) response which according to TripAdvisor rules is allowed, seems a little over the top to me….but that’s just my opinion.

  10. No, no, a thousand times no.

    If TA will let consumers write reviews, it makes sense that businesses should be able to respond. Just because that response doesn’t make him very happy doesn’t mean that he should have any power to compel anybody to remove it.

    Free speech works both ways.

    (And I love how he thinks his Hilton Gold status should somehow change things; if, as he says, the hotel is a bunch of filthy liars, would a mere Silver member be expected to suffer in silence?)

  11. Considering the Nickname, the number of “supposed” grievance items and the manager offer of correction and the OP still unsatisfied, I can what’s category of customer he is. 100% NO.

  12. Crane does have the option of updating his review, rebutting the Hotel’s comments. It’s easy to do, and lets readers know Crane had the last word.

  13. I didn’t see any untruths or insults in the GM’s response, just a rebuttal, which, like reviews, should be weighed against all reviews.

  14. On Elliott.org, Chris makes the rules about posts, but on Trip Adviser he wants them not to be able to make the rules? can anyone say double standard?

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