Mind the Small Stuff

Booking.comSue & I are taking a vacation and this blog will be on hiatus for the next couple of Sundays while we’re traveling. That got me to thinking about travel, and hotels, and the like.

What’s Most Important in Booking a Hotel Room?

Expedia Group put this question to consumers, and the answers, in this order were, price, guest ratings and brand value.

For years I was a valued member of a big hotel chain. I had worked myself up to Gold status. I never even looked at another hotel chain. I had their App on my phone and many times, my phone served as my room key in addition to keeping all of my stays organized. Until…

How to End a Customer Relationship

Then Sue & I were using some of her time share points up in Virginia Beach and I wanted to treat her to an elegant dinner on the beach. I found the highest rated restaurant in Virginia Beach and reserved an ocean window table for our meal one evening.

When we had made our dinner selection, we noticed a dessert that sounded intriguing so, we ordered it at the same time we ordered our meal, as it would take 20-minutes to prepare.

Is Everything OK?

Frequently throughout the evening different people in this elegant restaurant stopped by our table to see if everything was OK or if we needed anything. I wasn’t surprised, as this restaurant was operated by the same big hotel chain that I was a gold member with. I expected nothing less.

Till it Wasn’t

When we had finished our meal, our waiter came over to see if we wanted dessert and we said, we ordered dessert at the time we ordered our meal. “Oh, that’s right,” he exclaimed. “I forgot. I’ll be right back.”

And then we sat there for what would seem like a lot longer than 20-minutes, and for what would turn out to be a dessert that was terrible.

By now, the restaurant was filling up with people who were attending an office Christmas party and we just wanted to leave. We settled our check for several hundred dollars and proceeded to get our checked coats and our parking ticket stamped.

And Then It Just Fell Apart

As we pulled up to the garage parking attendant to hand in our parking ticket and parking voucher, the attendant informed us another $10 was due. I said that the restaurant had picked up our parking and that the voucher was supposed to cover our parking fee.

The attendant said the voucher was only good for two hours of parking and it was now twenty minutes past three hours’ time.

I asked if he could call over to the restaurant and get a waiver, but the attendant said he didn’t have a phone to call them. So, I put my car in park and turned off the engine and proceeded to get on my cellphone to call the restaurant.

First, I was told the manager was not on duty tonight and there was no one there who could help me. Then, I was told that on-duty manager was busy and could not come to the phone. When I called back the third time, I reached a person who said they were the manager but they could not come across the street to help me with my parking ticket. The fact that we had just spent several hundred dollars in their restaurant, that I was a gold member or the reason it took us over three hours to dine was their fault, seemed to make no difference.

By this time, parking attendant’s manager came into the booth to hear what my problem was and why I was parked with the engine off in the only exit lane at the parking garage.

This Virginia Beach city employee reached into his own wallet and paid the parking fee and opened the gate. I told him, I did not want him to do that, but he said he wanted to be sure we had a good experience in Virginia Beach and wished us a Merry Christmas.

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

First, I have a lot of praise for the City of Virginia Beach and whatever training they provide to their employees in building good relationships with tourists. However, that big hotel chain never ever provided any real satisfaction in my later email encounter with the problem I had at their restaurant property and with their employees. They really missed the mark in delivering on their “100% Satisfaction Guarantee.”

The result was in 2018, I booked more hotel nights in one calendar year than I’ve ever done in my life. Sue & I did a cross-country road trip that covered over 11,000-miles in eight-weeks. And this year, we’re doing even more traveling, because sightseeing has become our new passion in life.

However, that big hotel chain didn’t see a single dollar, all because of a $10 parking ticket. Everything for our cross-country trip was booked through Booking.com and this site has opened our eyes to better prices, real-time guest ratings and introduced us to new brands.

It’s ALL Small Stuff

I learned early in my radio career that no matter what, keep the listener and the advertisers happy. Even if you know that they are wrong, treat them as if they are right.


It all comes down to the lifetime value of a customer. One transaction is minuscule when you think of the big picture and return business.

In radio, keeping the listener happy will show up in what they tell their friends, post on social media and what they do when they participate in a ratings survey.

Keeping the advertiser happy means enjoying repeat business for years to come. Good radio advertising is about building a relationship that delivers a win-win outcome. Plus, it’s harder to develop a new radio advertiser than to keep a current one.

My purpose in sharing this story was not to cast aspersions on a major hotel company, but to take from this situation a learning moment to make you successful in your media career.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

14 responses to “Mind the Small Stuff

  1. jmelnick@coloradio.com

    GM   Dick:

    Would have been nice to see a name of this establishment..   I certainly don’t want that experience to happen to me,   or  anyone else…

          You guys have a great and safe trip…..     Cheers   Jay

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There was a story in a recent Wine Spectator magazine that I found at a Doctor’s office about the man who owns the Landry’s Restaurant chain. Here’s a quote from the story, “Tilman Fertitta’s global restaurant empire of nearly 600 steak houses and seafood venues is built around his core philosophy of keeping customers happy.“. He says in the piece that he doesn’t like the so called “celebrity chef restaurant” because they tend to lose focus on the customer. In his mind, nobody is more important that his customer! This is a man who owns this chain (no partners,stockholders, etc) and us worth something like 20 something billion dollars. He wasn’t handed his success through inheritance, but grew up in his folks local restaurant, and made this on his own. He knows the importance of sweating the small stuff, and he takes it to the bank! Cause and effect, but too many don’t see the connection!



  3. The big guys, they can afford to lose a customer because someone else can take the place. People keep going back to the chain restaurants, big box stores, etc. and complain about service, but still go back. How many times have you heard the complaint at the big box store “22 registers and two are open” Have a bad experience at a local business? you can track down the Manager or Owner. A lesson for radio: Most of my radio spots are tagged “shop local, buy local”. We are fortunate not to have any of the big radio chains in our market within 70 miles. They occasionaly stop in and offer pacakges with rates twice as mine at ROS (which means after 6 and weekends). We get a good laugh. We invite our clients on the air to chat with us, find non profits events they support, and support them. Visit a client at least every 2 to 3 weeks. I stopped by and visited a client in pouring rain the other day. He told me not to see him in bad weather because it was dangerous, we talked about his business, family, etc. We do business based on a relationship, not as a client. We had one long time business that was sold, I stopped by spoke the new owners, got the word out about the new changes they said they look forward to working with us for many years to come. Every client and community group has my cell phone number that I handwrite on the back of my card. No partners, no stockholder here. If a client has a issue we will make it right. 5 years on the air 100% customer statisfaction. I ask everyone next time you need to make a purchase find a local business and “shop local and buy local”. It might cost a little more time and 10 cents more, but it might be worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ds52

    My husband and I had a small computer services business for many years. We were both brought up with “the customer is always right.” Early on, someone taught me to say to an unhappy customer “What can we do to make it right?” Invariably, it was much less than we thought we were going to have to do. Usually a win-win for both sides.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s always been my philosophy that one or two “little things” can become a BIG thing if not dealt with. That’s why, when a Manager told me that I “care too much,” I faced her and said, “well, you’ve just proven that you do not care at all.” That didn’t end well, but to this day I enjoy telling the story when discussing anything I know IS in need of correction. It’s most always a listener and/or image thing, but OFTEN it is a Client thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Jagger

    I work at an Apple store now and one of the things the company and managers do is empower all employees to make decisions that will make and keep customers happy. It’s one of the most vital things in any business. After 40 years on the air the closest I came to that was “do it and ask for forgiveness later.”
    Apple’s way is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joe Jindra

    Dick, Your blog this week reminded me of a book I read several years ago, probably a recommendation from the International Broadcasters Idea Bank, which you and I were both members. It was called “Give Them The Pickle” by Robert Farrell. Who knows, you may have been the one that recommended the book! It was so good I bought multiple copies and shared them with clients. Here’s a link to the book:


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s