The assertion on the three-star hotel’s Facebook page that people who couldn’t afford their rates for Ed Sheeran’s Croke Park dates this July should find a bed in either a homeless shelter or a dog kennel has polarised people – to put it mildly.
Manager (and the sole operator of the Facebook account) Paul Stenson has been doing the media rounds since yesterday evening to clarify his stance.
Is he repentant? Not a bit of it.
“Good lord, if people don’t want to stay then don’t stay, get over it and buy a tent,” he told Eoghan McDermott on RTE Radio last night.
I’d say if someone had a car and could sell it for €10,000 why would you expect them to sell it for €5,000? It’s economics, supply and demand.
Strictly speaking we could be charging €300, that’s our rack rate, but are people giving us credit for the €21 discount? No they’re not.
It’s all about ‘having a laugh’ apparently, a phrase Stenson uses countless times over the course of his many interviews.
I love the abuse, it’s all a laugh and people see the funny side to it.
Look we’re not a charity, if you want charity then go to a homeless shelter or sleep with a dog at the DSPCA, you have to be firm with this otherwise people will walk all over you.
Anyway, we’re close to sell-out, bookings have increased exponentially since this kicked off and we’re getting 20 or 30 Facebook likes an hour.
This morning he appeared on John Murray’s morning show, again on RTE Radio One. The belligerence was slightly toned down but not by much. When asked what a regular hotel rate for the hotel would be he answered:
“How long is a piece of string? If there’s demand the price increases, just like with an airline, we charge from €49 up to €300, we can’t go above that because of the Fáilte Ireland cap.”
It doesn’t seem to affect people, we’ve only two or three rooms free on the Friday now and Saturday is picking up all because of the post.
Murray then asked if Stenson saw himself as the Michael O’Leary of the hotel world?
Well he’s one of my great idols. Being compared to him? I don’t think there can be anything wrong with that.
Finally, the battling hotel manager made a brief appearance on the Midday show on TV3, where presenter Elaine Crowley’s displeasure at the hotel’s ‘nasty’ marketing tactics was fairly evident.
Again, he gave as good as he got.
“Some people don’t get it and take offence unnecessarily, it’s just a joke, if you can’t take it then go back home to Cork or wherever,” he said.
Careful Paul, the People’s Republic is an enemy you make at your peril.
When asked whether the nasty tone of his Facebook posts is really necessary Stenson was, you guessed it, unapologetic.
It’s not nasty, it’s funny, it’s a joke and not meant to be taken any other way.
Facebook is not a place for professionals, it’s a place for fun and engagement and having a laugh.
We filter out the people who can’t have a laugh via Facebook, I’d much rather have our 30 rooms occupied by happy people.
Not that he would turn customers away, mind.
“We accept all-comers so long as they’re willing to pay,” he said.
To counteract irate customers leaving bad reviews for the hotel on Facebook since the controversy broke, the hotel has been running a new competition since last night: free Ed Sheeran tickets to one lucky person who leaves a five-star review on the page.
The hotel’s approach to Facebook has been making waves since last year, be that for calling out customers for leaving negative reviews, telling angry Garth Brooks fans to ‘get a life’, or even taking advantage of the controversy over Irish Water.
One way or the other it looks like it’s working – the hotel’s page has over 22,000 likes.