A WELL-KNOWN hotel owner has warned of the harmful effects of social media trolling on the hospitality industry amid calls for review sites to reassess their anonymity policy.
Michael Magner, who owns the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire, stressed that in his line of work, feedback is always welcome. However, he added that personal and hurtful remarks referring to hospitality workers by name should not be tolerated.
The industry veteran shared his thoughts on hospitality review sites that allow users to leave abusive comments with the protection of anonymity.
“Feedback has to be taken on board because it can be used positively to improve the service and make for a more positive experience for future guests,” Mr Magner said. “As a hotel, this is something we embrace. Technology is there to help and should be used as a resource in terms of sharing our experiences.
"However, with the best will in the world, a customer might still not be pleased.”
He stressed that reviews should be objective without bordering on personal.
“I have no problem with a reviewer mentioning that the chicken they were served in an establishment was cold. What I do take issue with is when the reviews border on the personal and focus on the person instead of the service. Some people forget that when they mention a name in a review they are remarking on a real person and while the review might be true to them it is still their own interpretation. As employers, we have to protect the welfare of our colleagues and remind ourselves that it is not acceptable to engage with our colleagues in this type of manner.
"If the element of anonymity was removed it would be interesting to see if the reviews would be more balanced and respectful.”
He said complaints can be dealt with more efficiently when handled face to face.
Mr Magner added that their doors are always open to staff affected by social media trolling.
“People working in our sector — like many others — have been on emotional journeys and are having to manage their wellbeing during Covid. Somebody could have lost a loved one to the pandemic. We too have been through that horror that was Covid and the sector is still rebuilding itself.
“Wellbeing is extremely important as we return to our working lives. There is no point dwelling on a negative that could be solved and turned around into a positive.”