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October 05, 2011


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Mark @ yBC

Great post David. Thoroughly agree. This kind of thing makes me squirm all the time.


Glad to read your post. Honesty is the number one message I tell my clients.

The core definition of branding is the image and feeling that someone gets when they think about your company. Once people get a feeling that you are less then sincere - that's part of the image they have about you.

Chris S.

So let me get this right... You've decided to use a copyrighted photograph in order to bash the company that you stole the photograph from?

Do you know that that atrium is a huge energy suck? Do you where that energy comes from? Could it possibly be really efficient?

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in Mark & SalesAddiction.

Chris S. - Yes, of course I could be wrong. And I hope that I am called out for being wrong because I would be happy to set the record straight and then talk up that I was wrong and praise the company for their quick response.

At the same time, I'd also advise the hotel to talk about how they are energy efficient in all of their actions, not just make me feel guilty when I am in the shower. I've used the name of the hotel in the post and I used both the hotel's twitter ID and the parent company twitter ID in my tweet so I hope that someone will respond so we know the truth.

Ashley Baxter

Customers are getting wiser at seeing beyond the marketing vs reality bait and switch! Sadly, many companies aren't getting wiser on how to tell the truth and still appeal to customers. Takes some creative thinking.

Jamie Mordaunt

I know exactly what you mean. I get wound up by those little bathroom notes in hotels imploring us to reuse the towels in order to "protect our precious environment", when in fact it's just as much about saving their laundry bill.


Great post. i hope IT marketers at various IT vendors see this and stop the lip service and actually start doing.

I spend my days engaging with 2 million IT buyers and I get 5-7 e mail messages a week asking if i can help to get an IT vendor to call a buyer back"

When i see a article online talking about how customer centric such and such a vendor is and then a day later an IT buyer who wants to spend $25,000 can not get an e mail returned is laughable".

The irony is apparently they are all focussed on "lead generation" ??????????? hmmmmmm.

Chase Sherman

Great post, cheers.

Jesennia King

I'd like to hear comments from business owners who sell a hand made art item ( I sell hand dyed silk veils and scarves for example ) ..hiring someone to answer my emails is nearly impossible since the customer has to ask me, the artist, about specifics. I do have a note on my email signature that provides a basic FAQ section but I don't think many people read it. I have over 2000 unanswered emails in my inbox..comments would be appreciated :)


So TRUE! A local car dealership recently re-modeled, and in the radio ad tell us all about it, the owner says: "I build a new xxx-sqaure foot dealership ALL FOR YOU!" ...um, no you didn't. You did it for YOU. I don't give a care how big the dealership is.


Starwood Social Media Team

Allow us to share a few important facts that reinforce our company-wide commitment to conservation and sustainable operations. By 2020, Starwood plans to significantly reduce energy and water consumption at our 1,000 hotels around the world. We have targeted a 30% reduction in energy use and a 20% decrease in water consumption per available room. We are dedicated to global citizenship and these targets are an embodiment of our passion for creating positive change in our communities and our world. With regard to the Westin Heavenly Shower, the current shower head can be turned on if a guest so wishes. Our next generation shower head, which will be installed in all Westin hotels by 2013, will outperform the government’s regulation of 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Our Environmental Sustainability Policy can be found at www.starwoodhotels.com. In closing, we would like to clarify that the Gaylord Resort is not a part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (Starwood) and has no affiliation with the Westin brand.

David Meerman Scott

Thank you Starwood for commenting and for clarifying.

However I am very confused. I indeed was booked for a hotel stay at the Gaylord National. The shower head is exactly as I photographed it in this post -- it says Westin on the bottom. Maybe you can explain what the difference is?

J Brett Abbey


I'm confused. You just noticed this now? It happens in many places, most of the time, and it's just another example of "when good messages go bad."

David Meerman Scott

Brett - of course I've noticed it before. But it is the first time I called out a brand because it seemed such an obvious contradiction.

Charles Edmunds

Good job on calling them out. Too bad their reply sounds like it was drafted up by their publicist. I understand the reasons why big brands operate the way they do, but I'd have so much more respect for big companies if they would engage with their audience in a more intimate way on the level.

I would have much more respect for star wood if they would have replied something like this (granted they say the hotel isn't part of their group)

David, great post and thanks for pointing that out to us. I hope you enjoyed your stay regardless of the mixup with the showers. We realize that it can be a bit confusing at times and were doing our best to fix up any contradicting messages but when you have over 1000 hotels all with an average of 200 rooms it's not something that's done overnight... So that you know we are very committed.. Here's something from our cleaver over-paid publicist "insert quote here"...


David, great post. Just wanted to chime in and clear up a few misconceptions. First off the Gaylord is no longer part of our group. They broke off and became independent X months ago. Not really sure why they are still sporting the Westin brand but I've notified the appropriate people here to look into it. I'm really sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy your experience however you did bring up and important topic that I wanted to elaborate a bit on. "insert publicist quote here".

Ok I realize that theres social media guidelines set in place for tone, style, etc.. But cmon people it's 2011. Our bullshit radar is at an all time high. If you reply with PC type of replys how are we th consumers supposed to take you as being genuine. I would love for once to see a big brand step up and say "oops we screwed up and made a bad decision but were doing everything that our shareholders will allow us to do in order to fix it quickly" instead of try to put up a thick layer of smoke to hide behind.

Just my $0.02 on it all. Take it for what it's worth ;)

Btw: love the blog David (I'm a recent subscriber) and to everyone else sorry for the "mini novel" reply.

David Meerman Scott

Charles -- You are absolutely correct. Here's hoping that our friends at Starwood see your suggestions. Many thanks for taking the time to jump in. David


Sometimes the comments make me think more than the article and in this case Charles' comment has done just that. I love the message and tone in your replies Charles, either of them would have made Starwood seem more human and compassionate; especially on a post about telling the truth!

Ron Carter

Great post David. Big corporate brands must tell the truth especially when their mistakes are obvious to those of us who track messages.

Colin Warwick

Hmmm... No word from Gaylord, eh? According to this press release:


...the property was owned and operated by Gaylord from day one. I can't find any connection between Gaylord and Starwood (who bought the Westin brand in 1994) so the logo on stickers in the shower are a mystery. Hotel chain do have complex relationships: they contract some aspect to one another. Inquiring minds need to know! How did that Westin logo get there!

David Meerman Scott

Colin - there is no question that the sticker was on the shower. So either someone at Westin is confused or not telling the truth.

Colin Warwick

Agreed. The logo is clearly visible on your photo. Wonder what the connection is (or was)...

Colin Warwick

...I think the Starwood person might be right. There are two separate buildings side by side:

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3027 is 171 Waterfront Street and the Gaylord with the big atrium is next door at # 201

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