The Customer Service Survey

Fancy Hotel

by Peter Leppik on Mon, 2007-05-21 01:00
This weekend, my wife and I had the unusual treat of the grandparents watching our kids overnight. It's been at least a couple years since we've had that kind of a break, so we wanted to make the most of it. I went to Travelocity and booked a suite at The St. Paul Hotel, once of the fanciest places in the twin cities and the place where Presidents and Prime Ministers stay when they come to visit. I didn't go totally overboard and book the Penthouse Suite, but I did splurge a little and reserve a room a notch above the standard.

When we checked in, however, we were given a considerably smaller room than the one we booked. Fortunately, I had printed out the confirmation page from Travelocity, and showed it to the check-in clerk.

She just sort of shrugged and offered that sometimes "the systems just don't integrate properly."

Could we get the room that we'd booked? No going, since all the fancy suited were booked for that evening--mostly with prom-goers we guessed, judging from all the teenagers in fancy clothes hanging around.

One of the things you expect when you stay in a super-fancy hotel is that they'll take care of everything for you. Part of that is the expectation that if something goes wrong--such as a mistake in your reservation--the hotel will go beyond the call of duty to make it right.

So the indifferent response I got to this booking error ("I'm sorry for the error, but at least it's a less expensive room!") really surprised me.

Don't mistake me: the room we stayed in was quite nice, and we had no complaints about our stay. It just wasn't as special as I'd hoped for our rare night off.

The story continues, though: the next morning, we got up, had a relaxed breakfast at the hotel's sunday brunch, and checked out mere seconds before the check-out time.

"How was your stay?" the manager asked us as we settled the bill. I explained that it was very nice, except for the mistake in our reservation. "I heard about that," she said, "did anyone do anything to make up for the mistake?"

When I said that nobody had, she proceeded to take both the valet parking and breakfast off our bill, apologizing profusely the whole time. "And," she said, attaching her business card to our statement, "if you come back--and I hope you do--give me a call and we'll do something for you."

Now that was the kind of service I expect from a fancy hotel.

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