Wednesday, June 15, 2011

San Diego Hilton Bayfront - A Bad Service Review

I’m staying at the San Diego Bayfront Hilton right now.   


After a long day of travel, I arrived at my hotel lugging my case, backpack, and golf clubs.  I waited patiently in queue, as the hotel had many conference attendees checking in, and things were busy.  Soon enough it was my turn, and I was greeted by a nice gentleman at the counter who welcomed me to the hotel and asked for my name.  I provided it to him by spelling it (I always spell my last name for folks – it just makes it easier for both of us), and he happily typed away into his computer.  His good nature quickly turned to a frown, and he asked me to spell it again, which I happily did.  Failure.  Then the “gotcha” question comes out: “Sir, we have no reservation under this name.  Do you have a confirmation number?”  I jokingly stated that nobody ever wants to hear that question and pulled out my iPhone to get the number that would save my bacon.  

 I passed along the number which was quickly typed into the computer, and was again met with a frown.  “Sorry sir,” my increasingly agitated hotel helper stated, “that confirmation number belongs to another guest.”  

I repeated the number and was met with the same answer.  I knew my admin made the reservation months ago, and knew as well that she’s aces – she did not screw up.   

Immediately my pressure rises – it has been a long trip, and I’m losing the mood for this exercise.  I stated that I did have a confirmation number, and that meant I had a room.  Finding one was not my problem.  He immediately retorted that the confirmation number I had was obviously wrong, he had no rooms, and there was nothing else he could do for me.  At this point I asked, “So are you telling me, tough bounce you’re screwed?”  He pointed me in the direction of the concierge and stated that he might be able to help me find another hotel in the area.   

At 9:00 PM.   

The night before a major conference.   

As I turned to head to the concierge I overheard my crabby agent suddenly switch into customer mode and exclaim “Welcome to the Bayfront Hilton!” in happy sing-song to the next person in line.  It was like fingernails on the chalkboard.   

I made my way to the concierge who was apologetic and polite, but obviously upset that the agent handed me off to him.  The agent had the ability look for other hotels for me, but instead passed me off.  I wasn’t a paying customer, just some idiot.  Who gives a crap about me?  The concierge stepped up and immediately called over the manager on duty, to whom I downloaded my whole story again.  Something must have smelled wrong to her about my situation as she went into investigation mode to see if she could determine what happened.   

After about 5 minutes of questions back and forth and hammering into the computer, I could tell an “aha” moment had been reached.  They did indeed find my reservation.  It seems that someone with a similar name as mine had checked in previously that day, and had been mistakenly been given my reservation.  It would just take a couple of minutes and I would be set up.   

Apologies were quick from the manager, and came from the first guy that helped me as well.  I told both that it was OK, but you know, it wasn’t.  I would have fired that guy on the spot – he’s in the hospitality industry.  He was anything but hospitable.   His solution was for me to find another hotel.  Next!

So after 45 very tense and stressful minutes I left the lobby armed with my key cards and some apologies, and I made my way to the elevator with the major crisis avoided.   But I did so with the firm commitment that neither I nor my team will ever stay at a Hilton for business again.  I know mistakes happen, I get that.  But what I don’t get is toleration for impolite treatment.  What I don’t get is the assumption that since I got my room (the one I should have had in the first place), I’d be happy.  What I don’t get is that the person who had the ability to say “For all of your troubles, please accept my apologies by buying you a drink,” appetizer, dinner, or whatever.  Note I wasn’t fishing for a free dinner – I wouldn’t have used it anyway.  All I wanted was recognition that I had been wronged, along with some token effort to make it right.   

But that didn’t happen, so instead, my little travel budget will go elsewhere.  Will it make a difference to them?  Hardly.  It will amount to maybe $10,000 over the next year or two – a rounding error for Hilton.  But it is the principle of the thing.   

You know, principles.  Things like, oh I don’t know, maybe taking care of the customer…

UPDATE: The Hilton responds, and does so in impressive fashion.  Read about it here

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