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When Service Goes Bad! - A personal story about a hotel chain - Raj Wadhwani - Blog

When Service Goes Bad! - A personal story about a hotel chain

I am on my 31st event and have to write that my experience with one of the venues we chose has been horrible – let’s just call this group ZZZ. I have complained on countless times about the way they have looked after me and my business and earlier this year flew all the way from Canada to this European venue to try and make sure everything was ok - I felt they were not looking after me.

I complained to several people I know and my complaint was passed to the European HQ at ZZZ - at this point I felt they would take note, but all I got was an email from HQ saying they had spoken to the venue and all was ok ... hey, what about talking to the customer to ask if all is ok??? 

…Seems that talking to the customer is not part of the complaint handling process which is somewhat bizarre! I found in general that the ZZZ hotel really were not interested in any professional relationship – seemed it was just one big money grab!

We had numerous issues about bookings - sometimes their system failed to show available rooms so some delegates were told there was no space even though this was not the case! They were offering better prices to other groups even though we were told ours was the lowest and we told all our delegates our was the lowest - we found out this was not true during a phone call with the sales director of the hotel! And, worse we had signed an agreement to hit a min room block or face financial penalties. They did acknowledge there were problems but as you will see later, they were not very understanding!

We were promised by the Sales Director, after more complaints, that I would receive a personal contact from the GM the next day ... never happened, got a long winded email (sorry that is NOT personal when you complain but a brush off) saying they had done all they could!

I had been complaining that they never seem to communicate with us by phone – in all the time we worked with them think we had 3 calls – very un-personal doing everything by email and we often waited 2-3 days, sometimes longer to get answers to questions – what’s up with emails all the time especially when I asked them to pick up the phone and talk?!

Never got minutes from phone calls or any meetings - seems they were trying to avoid putting anything in writing from meetings! 

I had resigned myself that they were really doing a lot to make it difficult for us and the Friday before our event asked for a meeting - a team of 6 met me - one was the so called Sales Manager who just said hello then left! - was the second time she did this – she did this in Feb when I made a special trip to ZZZ!

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At the meeting I asked for them to confirm we had done everything we could to hit the quota of 340 room nights with a current count of 337 and asked them to accept that we should be allowed to avoid penalties and was told ‘absolutely not’ - we would have to hit 340 or face penalties! The hotel had not supported us and made it very difficult for us and did not seem to acknowledge this at all and simply refused to budge! We were 991% of the target and told we would have to pay a penalty!   The GM in his long winded email said he would be confident we would hit our min – seems he again was avoiding the issue and not prepared to take a realistic look at all our issues!

At the meeting I also went thru the plan and asked for tea/coffee to be served on the first day as delegates checked in - was noted by the account manager and yet it never happened - again no meeting notes and yet 5 other people from the hotel were there it was missed!

At the event I was asked if they could reduce the amount of food at lunch as we had guaranteed a certain amount and were short of this - I said if you can reduce our costs yes. The response was absolutely not! On the second day of our event they did reduce the amount of food by half - was very obvious to all my delegates they had done this and was done without asking!

At breaks in the am/pm they drastically cut down on food - they put out 0.75 muffins per person ... that means 1 in 4 would not get any food because they were deliberately under catering despite fact we were paying for everyone and again they did this without asking – very insulting to us and the delegates!

Overall this venue was appalling - it’s not one of the hotels owned by the hotel chain, rather a franchise ... so buyers beware, there are some very bad 'big chain' hotels out there and this was the worst we have ever worked with. Too bad the folks I complained to did not listen to me the customer ... maybe they should have sat in on the customer service presentations given by our presenters who clearly know what service is all about!

Remember a satisfied complainant is more likely to buy than someone who has no need to complain. This hotel group missed the opportunity to build a relationship and now I won't ever work with any of their properties again! And look, I am sharing this with 138,000 of our members - all business professionals and will be tweeting this, posting on Facebook and spreading the word!

Ironically some members from this group do come to our best practice events – just not the ones who were looking after our business!

So, if someone complains, listen and improve ... some people at the hotel understood exactly what I was saying and agreed we had been treated poorly - shame the management were too ignorant to even care!    

Finally have to say the support staff were great - in most cases they are amazing and the folks in the lounge, in the conference area, guest services etc were always helpful.

PS - I also had to complain about the wakeup call service - in the first 3 days of staying there 2 of my 3 requests were not actioned on time - they have a policy of calling you to wake you rather than using a machine - problem is when they are busy they are late and mine were late 2X out of 3! … never had such poor wake up call service in my entire career! 

Its been 17 days since our event finished and still no contact from the venue to ask how things went and get some feedback. They know I am not happy and ZERO effort has been made since I left! I know if I had someone who spent $100,000+ and they were not happy I would make a lot of effort to communicate and see what I can do! ... this really emphasizes the lack of customer care by this hotel in Vienna!

Publish Date: July 11, 2013 2:02 AM

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