Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Damage Control: Can we still save the Plantation Bay Resort?

Wazzup Pilipinas!

By now I'm sure everyone is aware of the Plantation Bay issue currently circulating on social media. (Needless to say, this fiasco is exactly why companies should hire a PR person/firm.)

Plantation Bay should just stop issuing statements. But there's an improvement on how they wrote the apology letter. Nag-improve na nga eh. Hindi na Comic Sans ang font na ginamit. But the tone of the apology letter is "unapologetically still full of entitlement."

I suggest they stop responding to the complaints and bashings. 

They're, or should I say Manny Gonzalez is, digging their/ his own grave at break-neck speed.

There are two issues here - disability mishandling, and irresponsible feedback management. 

For the first one: issue a public apology, acknowledge the mishandling, commit to inclusivity to the disabled, express interest to investigate on the matter, coordinate with specialists, say the staff will be better trained so it won't happen again.

For the second one, you cant do damage control if the owners are exactly the cause of damage. They deny public opinion and even insinuate in their website that social media uproars are orchestrated. The second issue is unfixable unless the issue translates to negative business - but I think it isn't given the entitlement they are showing off. Best for the old people to stay away from company assets. Sila ang risk.

It won't do anyone any good if, moving forward, a person who thinks like THAT is still the head of the business. It will happen again.

In crisis management, there are three key things to consider in the communication:

1. Acknowledgment

2. Apologies

3. Accountability

I would start by crafting a proper letter of apology, and it should come from the CEO, and not that Manny person. However, Manny is the CEO. So therefore, either get the second highest in command and keep this Manny away from the social media accounts of Plantation Bay.

Under the circumstances, the only thing they can do is distance themselves from this Manny Gonzalez (if that’s possible) and issue a more appropriate statement of apology. 

Manny, unfortunately, will never be able to redeem himself. But he can be useful as a sacrificial lamb. 

The new apology should throw Manny under the bus in no uncertain terms. In the statement, they will apologize (almost to the point of groveling) to the family, the public, and to all families with special needs members. The statement should acknowledge what was done wrong, what was said wrong, and will offer no defense. Will offer no excuse. It will say in no uncertain terms that the company has failed to uphold its values and failed to protect its guests. If the resort is not a place of comfort for ALL of its guests then it has failed its mission and brand promise. It will also outline what the company will do moving forward in order to help ease the emotional inconvenience they caused to the child and family. 

They will also make a commitment to change the resort’s policies, educate their staff, and improve their customer service overall. They will seek the help of professionals to do proper training. And the statement will end with him promising that the company will donate a hefty sum to CereCare Philippines, an educational facility for special needs children. Lol.

As a PR practitioner, there is no way that I'm going to accept this project even if they offer a huge amount of money as payment. This is a different crisis for their company as it's almost inhumane for someone to belittle, question, and defend his ignorance towards people with special needs. 

But on a PR standpoint, the CEO or owner of the resort should make certain actions, especially towards that shitty response to the issue. I would encourage the executives to create a statement that they do not tolerate this kind of behavior from their employees towards guests. Especially those of special need.

So does this mean Manny is a failure in this particular part of handling customer complaints. He speaks with so much entitlement as if he is never wrong. Remember the saying that a customer is always right? Basic but he is so full of himself to realize what is more important.

Maybe the resort should revisit their policies. Plantation Bay is really really strict when it comes to noise. It’s posted in the reception area and everywhere. I remember when I was there, it clearly says that IF YOU CAN’T FOLLOW THE RULE, WE WILL BE GLAD TO ASSIST YOU TO TRANSFER TO A DIFFERENT RESORT. 

But how come they were not strict to the Koreans who were probably noiser than the autistic child?

Seriously, they should’ve remained silent for a couple days. Afterwards, acknowledge and be accountable of the blunder. Then apologize(with a heart) and not with that righteous tone.

Moving forward, accept that the damage has been done, and the resort right now is facing backlash for what the CEO did, kung ako Ang PR person, I'd urge the resort to humble itself and accept their fault, then settle the matter with the complainant personally and privately, like what some suggested, away from the eyes of socmed. 

Tapos, fix things from the inside muna. Educate the CEO about the issue and since may PR team (or person) na sila, huwag na ipahandle sa CEO yung pagrereply sa feedback ng mga nagstay.

Sabihin nating may point yung post nung CEO. Mahirap nga naman kasi talaga ang maingay, pero there is always a proper and better way to handle such situations. 

Improve facilities, do proper staff training in case may mga ganoong guests na darating. Assign a person para sa guests na with disability or special needs. Para kahit sila lang ang go-to-person ng staff pag may assurance ang guests na maaasikaso sila. 

Then yun ang ipa-publicize. Ilagay sa socmed na may ganung person na sa resort to make sure ma-accommodate yung needs ng mga special guests, bilang improvement sa kanilang past mistakes.

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