Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 238 -Recovering From A PR Disaster. What To Do When You Just Did Everything Wrong

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In today’s podcast we’re going to cover what you do when you just did something really, really stupid.  Case in point, the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, NY. The Crossroads, very aptly named, had a decision in front of them and they did not choose the right path.  

Now before we get too in depth into the situation I’ve got a trigger alert.  Today we’re covering how the Crossroads Hotel opted to receive a large group of migrants/refugees/illegals/asylum seekers or whatever you prefer to call those who have crossed the US border.  We will not be talking about the politics of this at all, nor will we be providing any commentary on the US border crisis.  However we will be talking about what happens when you alienate other guests.  In this case, at least two large blocks of rooms reserved by a wedding party for guests.

This has been in the news across the nation as of this recording in May, 2023 and our topic is not about the decision to displace booked reservations for other opportunities.  Our topic is about how you handle the social and PR fallout when you make a decision that impacts your guests in an incredibly negative way.

First, let’s look at five strategies you can employ when a PR disaster strikes:

  1. Turn lemons into lemonade
  2. Embrace and turn
  3. Own up and apologize
  4. Fight
  5. Passively monitor

In this case The Crossroads really only have two options, they can Embrace and Turn, or they can Own Up And Apologize. Since so much time has past since the 1st news dropped, embrace and turn is pretty much off the table.  This leaves us with owning up and apologizing.  

So how can they do that?  For this we’ll turn to another set of five items, from Forbes Magazine, the  The 5 “A’s” Of A PR Crisis.

  1. Assess. Calmly, despite the stress, identify the issue and determine the best course of action.
  2. Admit. If you were at fault (or worse, lying) admit the transgression quickly and directly
  3. Address. Specifically address what you are admitting and apologizing for.  Don’t mince words, be direct and succinct.
  4. Atone. Make right what you made wrong.  Detail out your plan to ensure (1) you fix the issue and (2) layout out plan for it to not happen again.
  5. Adapt. Move on to be a better person or company.  It’s time to begin repairing and rebuilding you social capital

First and foremost: Lead with understanding and sympathy.

How did Choice Hotels handle the situation?

  • Why did Choice not at least make a statement of sympathy and looked at how they could have improved the situation.  Example is how Chic-fl-a supports disasters

How did the individual property handle the situation?

  • You HAVE to address the issue
  • You HAVE to address the people impacted 
  • “No Comment” is ALWAYS the wrong answer
    • People will always assume the worst
    • It may not truly be the hotel’s “fault”
  • Switch the conversation back to why the property was in a bad spot.
  • How could the hotel have made this into a positive

How can the hotel make the situation better.

  • Did the hotel’s legal team prevent “making it right” for fear of further litigation?

How the hotel Should have handled the issue

  • First and foremost, reach out Choice to get their guidance 
  • Helping address a crisis and this is an unfortunate statement
  • Needed to make a personal statement to those guests who were impacted
  • Needed to lead with sympathy 

Past Episodes (very wayback): 

Crossroads Hotel In The News Examples:


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