Sue & 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.