The dangers of social media accounts falling into the wrong hands have been highlighted following an angry late night exchange on Twitter between chef-restaurateur Mitch Tonks (pictured) and Hotel du Vin Bristol.
A row erupted after Tonks voiced his disappointment that a barman at the 40-bedroom hotel refused to serve drinks to a number of his friends, including chefs Ken Hom, Angela Hartnett and Yotam Ottolenghi.
Tonks, who has been a regular guest at the hotel for more than 10 years, wrote: “@hotelduvinbristol so much for hospitality as a resident I couldn’t bring a few friends for a drink .. I could have one but not them…”
In reply, Hotel du Vin Bristol wrote: “@MitchTonks unlucky, find a new hotel!”
After Tonks told the hotel that he was booked to stay for two nights, Hotel du Vin Bristol replied: “@MitchTonks sleep tight then we shall discuss tomorrow”
Despite it by now being the early hours of the morning, a number of Tonks’ 15,700 Twitter followers jumped to his defence. Food writer Tom Parker Bowles wrote: @MitchTonks. Is this a joke? Bloody hell Mitch, get out of that hellhole sharpish.”
Mark Taylor, food editor of the Bristol Post, said: “@tomparkerbowles @MitchTonks @hdv_bristol Unbelievable, who could turn away @AngelaHartnett Ken Hom and other great hospitality people?”
Angela Hartnett replied “@sophiemichell @MitchTonks @wallfishbristol @MarkTaylorFood @tomparkerbowles @hdv_bristol Terrible service and reply! Meanwhile, Megan Hession summed up the numerous exchanges: “@MitchTonks @wallfishbristol @MarkTaylorFood @tomparkerbowles @hdv_bristol @AngelaHartnett Absolute PR disaster currently happening”.
Tonks, who runs six restaurants in Devon and is the author of seven cookery books, later told The Caterer that he had been staying in Bristol to attend the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
“After the event I suggested to some friends going back to the bar at Hotel du Vin Bristol, where I was staying, for a drink. We arrived at about 12.15am and the barman said he would serve me, but not my friends. The atmosphere was not at all welcoming and so we headed off to the Marriott hotel.
“We were good people to have in the bar, in fact, other guests there offered to buy drinks on behalf of my friends.”
Tonks said that he was amazed the following morning to discover the support he had received on Twitter regarding the incident.
“What happened was disastrous for the Hotel du Vin brand,” he explained. “Two lessons are highlighted here. Firstly, that people in the industry sometimes forget that we are working in hospitality and that a welcome is pivotal to the success of a business. Secondly, when the operation of a Twitter account gets into the wrong hands, it can go horribly wrong.”
Tonks met with Hotel du Vin management this morning who he said were “very gracious” and apologised for the actions of the barman who had not followed the company’s training procedures.
“I understand how these things happen, but unfortunately the hotel didn’t jump on it fast enough.”
A spokesperson for Hotel du Vin Bristol said: “The hotel is investigating a temporary breach of the Hotel du Vin Bristol Twitter account on Friday 29 April and sincerely apologises for any offence caused.”
The offending tweets have since been deleted.
Tonks said he is a huge fan of Hotel du Vin and will continue to use its hotels in the future.