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Inhospitable hospitality

The recent story of a New York hotel threatening to charge guests who post negative online reviews highlights the enormous psychological and ethical transmutations currently taking place in the business of hospitality.

"Fawlty Towers" has gone global and bullying is in trend. International travellers are now just a nuisance, a means to an end, and established local communities are there to be treated with contempt.

Though the problem is worldwide, Thailand has been at the cutting edge of these developments. Instances abound and word is getting out. For example, a Bangkok resident fears returning home because of the severe threats and intimidation facilitated by a major US international hospitality corporation. Evidence abounds that this company is knowingly operating at least one seriously illegal hotel. Attempts to publicise this have not been appreciated, which explains the aggressive corporate tactics. Other regulatory, international and local law violations and company code violations complete the picture.

So why is the hospitality industry becoming so anarchic and inhospitable, at both local and international level? Is it arrogance? Egotistical CEOs? The fetishism of rapid growth and quarterly profit (aka corporate greed)? Thailand and industry-wide corruption?

The business of hospitality is looking tired, in need of refurbishment, and a luxury five-star worldwide probe into how the hotel industry is being administered would be appropriate and warmly welcomed.

John Shepherd


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