Hotelier's Generosity/PR Move Rescues Ireland's Welcoming Image
Three backpackers from Plano, Texas, were denied entry to Ireland. Apparently the trio made a poor first impression. They didn’t fill out the entire immigration forms given to them on their flight, and their plans for couch-surfing, a worldwide network of hosts who offer their extra bedrooms or couches to travelers at no charge, didn’t fly with immigration officials.
An officer said she didn’t believe they had the means for the trip and that they weren’t there for the reasons they stated. Even after offering up online copies of bank statements and the phone number of their couch-surfing host, all three were sent home at their own expense ($1,900 each).
No matter the circumstances, the ordeal left Irish Immigration looking unwelcoming and unreasonable. Read the whole story at www.khou.com/news/state/stories/khou090706_tnt_texas-backpackers-ireland.13d8cc46.html.
Enter D4hotels.ie. In an effort to rescue the Ireland of the Welcomes image… and get their hotel some public relations coverage, the hotelier offered to pay the group’s airfare, hotel accommodations for a week and give them $1,000 to spend in Dublin. Read the whole story at www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-ireland_09met.ART.State.Edition2.4bccf51.html
My reaction… Cheers to D4! They’re stepping up and reinforcing the message that Ireland takes in visitors with open arms. This is an example of the tourism industry taking advantage of a potentially negative situation and turning it around. In the end, everyone benefits. The backpackers will be spend money in Ireland and become instant spokespeople for the hotel and Irish travel… and any euros the hotel doles out will certainly come back to them through the positive press they are receiving… is there a better way to show they take care of their guests than showing the world that they are willing to take care of three complete strangers?
Case in point, I only vaguely knew of www.D4hotels.ie before today. Now, they’re on my list of places to consider next time I’m in Dublin.
I have to wonder, did Immigration really think sending these guys home was in the best interest of the country? It’s unlikely three backpackers on a tour of Europe would cause a drain or danger to Ireland. That said, let’s hope these fellas make as good of an impression on the Irish as D4hotels.ie has made on us.
Updated 9:30a Jul 10, 2009 –
The guys plan to take D4Hotels’ offer but are waiting for Irish officials to give them the go-ahead to assure they won’t be turned back again. They’ve become known as the Plano 3 in Ireland and are due for a superstar welcome with Irish media outlets clamouring for interviews with Ireland’s new “Travel Ambassadors.” D4Hotels has already unveiled a new radio ad featuring an especially twangy Texas accent, and another company has offered the fellas mobile phones for their travels around Europe.