A life of a hotel, just like that of a human being, can be a matter of moments. Exceptional service and ethics can earn a hotel a good reputation, and therefore a bright future. It's the core of the hospitality business. At the same time though, the lack or momentary lapse of such service can give the place a bad name. And that means trouble.
Sometimes this is due to unpredictable unfortunate events out of the hotel's staff's control.
It could be something as gruesome as the mysterious death of a VIP in their guest room (like recent cases of showgirl Anna Nicole Smith and wrestler Eddie Guerrero, but the list would be long), or something as clumsy as O.J. Simpson's attempt to "take matters in his own hands" at the "Palace Station" in Las Vegas in 2007. And as a matter of fact, these stains in a hotel's resume usually turn into powerful publicity factors that bring even more business through the enormous notoriety they bring.
Sometimes, however, when the problem derives from staff's negligence or mistakes, a hotel's reputation is seriously damaged, and its future doomed.
It may be the accidental death of a guest due to food-poisoning at the hotel's restaurant, or just the disclosure of a guest's whereabouts and private data by a front desk agent upon answering a phone-call. Lawsuits, negative publicity, police on the scene: who would book their next stay at such hotel?
What happened to the "Hilton Hotel" in Chongqing, China, falls in the latter category.
Earlier this week, this hotel was closed and the police arrested 22 people suspected of running a prostitution ring.
Chongqing police were investigating the owner of the property, Qinglong Property Development Co, and its alleged links to an underworld gang running a prostitution ring at the hotel. The gang is also suspected of dealing illegal drugs.
The hotel was shut down for business immediately and customers were seen leaving with their luggage.
The hotel's reception desk confirmed the establishment had been closed, but refused to comment on the investigation. According to the news report, police interrogated many of the hotel staff, detaining 102 suspects, of which 22 have been formally arrested.
The Hilton International Hotel Group manages the business in a joint venture with the property company. While the Hilton brand and name can hardly be affected by such an unfortunate and random event, local heads at the premises in Chongqing will most likely be rolling.
Hopefully only job-wise, because the death penalty is a daily reality in China, and it has already been applied within the investigation that led to the seizing of the "Hilton Hotel".
We do hope the punishment will this time fit the crime.