First of all, we also do not want people to "choose sides".
An email just landed in our laps that has, apparently, been sent out to a large distribution list. We are now forced to address this publicly unfortunately. This is an attempt to recap what's what in this mess, and we'll post full disclosure in a separate thread soon. We really did not want to get into this drama, publicly, but we feel that we have no choice.
We are going to try and keep this as short as possible, as this is very upsetting to us, and we don't want to get into a petty cat fight, however it is quite a complicated matter, so bear with us.
First off, as many of you may know, Playa.Info is a business, and we earn our living off of the goods and services we sell on the site, like most businesses. Economy in a tourist town is based on commissions and that is how everyone earns their living in a town like Playa del Carmen. That's why we have to have rules on our site. Rules that prevent other businesses from using our site for their own promotion without our consent. This is very clear in our forum announcement, and our user sign-up agreement, but even if it were not, it would be common courtesy.
The background behind the email sent out by Tony and Cheri is the matter of a PeepFest event, specifically a catamaran trip. Though organized and promoted on Playa.Info, it came to our knowledge that the actual booking was arranged by Luna Blue. We were never asked about setting up this event or if it was OK to promote it on our site, even though cat trips have been organized and arranged on this site with our involvement since 2002.
While the average user of the forum cannot be asked to understand how things work, or think about the implications of taking their business elsewhere while promoting it on Playa.info, Tony and Cheri should have known better, especially given the long relationship between our businesses.
T&C claim in their email that "the only thing we did was book a tour at the request of one of our hotel guests" and that they didn't know it was a PeepFest event, and many other comments to prove their plausible deniability. In the email, Tony and Cheri try to make it sound like we are trying to ask for a commission that isn't rightfully ours.
Let us make it perfectly clear that we at no point asked for a commission for this event. In our initial PM to them, to ask what the deal was, we simply asked what was up with the cruise and how come we weren't asked about it. Their reply was that "We did not consider this to be any sort of Playa Info event and had no knowledge of any claims by Playa Info to management or promotion of this tour." It's quite obvious for anyone that this tour is in deed organized and promoted on Playa.info - it's all right there, on the forum. Tony & Cheri even posted on the thread themselves, so they certainly did know about it.
We do have set some rules about other businesses arranging tours and events on our site, we think that is understandable by anyone, and this event is clearly booked by Luna Blue - a business other than Playa.info. Perhaps, if involved parties had shown the courtesy of contacting us while planning and arranging this event, a friendly agreement could have been made; and by that we do not imply that we would "demand money from us that we thought you didn't deserve" as T&C earlier in this thread, but an arrangement that would have left everyone happy. Those are possible to achieve...
In our PM conversation earlier today, T&C got quite defensive in this matter, and just blindly refused to see how Playa.info could have anything to do with this event, though it is clearly posted, promoted and organized on our very site. At this point, we felt that we no longer wanted to give Luna Blue any more free publicity and promotion, and we did three things:
1. We took off the signature that they had in all their posts, promoting their hotel.
2. We removed the thread where they posted their promotional video of their hotel, a promo video they posted without asking us, by the way.
3. We took them off the list of recommended hotels, which is a list that will disappear in a soon future to make room for our new directory, and at this point earns us no commissions anyway, but is fully free promotion to the hotels we have been working with in the past.
Our reaction to this issue also has to do with the history with Luna Blue and what happened after last PeepFest. As many of you may know, Tony and Cheri of Playa's Hotel Luna Blue are no strangers to drama. After PeepFest 2007, T&C posted a thread where they publicly scolded some of their guests for misuse of their premises. Though they may have been right when it comes to the fact of the matter, it was certainly bad form to publicly complain about your guests instead of dealing with the few 'offenders' in private, especially when those guests were people as supportive and loyal as Playa.info Peeps have been.
The value of all the good things Peeps have said about Luna Blue here and other forums, can not be measured in money (or perhaps it can). When challenged whether the mere exposure in relation to the PeepFest perhaps outweighed the monetary value of some people taking showers in someone else's room, T&C, and others, stooped to profanity and name calling, as well as finally telling the world that Playa.info wasn't really all that important to them (on OUR forum). After commenting that they wished they'd never posted the thread, we took it out of public view. It still exists though, so if you're interested, here
is a copy. The profanity and name calling have been edited, but it was bad. Other people also got out of hand, and all offenders were contacted. While the others apologized for their bad behavior, T&C chose a different route.
After that, we, as well as a bunch of other people, were dumbfounded to received mails where T&C renounced all friendship. We were also told that they would never again post on Playa.info, and for many months, they didn't. After a hiatus, they came back claiming (again publicly, on OUR forum) that they only came back to help others, which they did, in a most amazing fashion (first helping the Bloody Chicas after their accident, and then the hurricane victims of Majahual). Their participation escalated to daily posting and we certainly never thought of calling them on their prior decision to turn their backs on us, it was not our decision to break all ties, though we did find it a bit weird to have them post so much after having caused such a stir. For those involved in the last drama - and yes, they sent out long emotional emails to people then too - you know what I'm talking about. Now back in full force and posting promotional material without asking, we do believe we had to put our foot down and stand up for ourselves, which is why we removed references to their business.
Let us make it perfectly clear that Tony and Cheri are NOT banned on this site, nor are any comments about their hotel or their business. We will never say anything bad about Hotel Luna Blue; it is a well managed hotel where we have sent many clients in the past (including family and friends). We just cannot let them as a business use our forum for financial gain anymore, especially while they choose to make this personal in such an immature fashion.
Sorry it had to come to this. We certainly didn't want to take it publicly.
James and Anna