by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief Social Media Strategist at xynoMedia
Last week I spent half of the week in Boston, speaking at the Marketing Profs B-to-B Forum, and then I headed straight to Chicago to speak lead back-to-back workshops about social media for an entire day. This was just one week in the life of someone who, you could say, along with many, many other women, travels for a living.
While in Boston I did something I never do, I stayed on-site at the event location -- in this case it was the Renaissance Boston Waterfront. Nice enough. I'm a Rewards member so I like getting my points that transfer to airlines miles plus I like the fact that the Renaissance properties are less cookie-cutter and have a more boutique feel - well, at least they try. Cool and the gang.
Instead of flying to Boston, I took the Amtrak up and it was a lovely ride (with the exception of me banging my knee on the way to the bathroom which caused a huge purple bruise). After arriving at Boston's Union Station, I took the "T" (Silverline) to the hotel, which was a 10 minute ride. When I can, I always try to take the public transportation available in other cities so I can see how it compares to New York's buses, subways and MetroNorth commuter trains. I'm
nosey curious like that.
This sounds like the ideal business trip so far...and in many respects it was. But, here's what I've been able to tell about travel systems and hotels that come so close to perfection, but miss the mark:
They annoy me more than hotels and travel systems that totally suck. It's akin to dangling the carrot and then snatching it back when I reach for it. You get my hopes up only to dash them on the rocks.
It makes it that much worse when a hotel or airline gives me a half-assed experience rather than a overall crappy experience. In the former scenario I have hope and expectations, in the later I don't expect anything so I'm pleasantly surprised when the smallest thing goes right.
To which, many people would say, "Then why have any expectations at all?" Not only is that the easy way out, but when you (or in this case the conference producer) are paying $400/night for a hotel, it's only right to expect good service -- after all this is the HOSPITALITY business, right?
For example, one evening at the Renaissance, something went wrong with their kitchen equipment which forced them to offer only 4 or 5 items on their menu...only sandwiches and stuff. Instead of them letting their guests know - they do have the global telephone voice mail messaging system - they waited until people were STARVED and called for room service, only to be told that they have to choose between a cold salad and a cold sandwich. *Niiiice.*
Or how about when I arrived at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront, sticky and travel-jostled from my lovely Amtrak trip, they asked for ID and a credit card for incedentals. I provided both. And, instead of swiping the card I gave them at the front desk, they opted to go for the now-expired card that's on file with my Marriott Rewards profile. Which meant, as soon as I check in, get to my room and order room service, they started calling back and forth:
Them: "Ms. West, we don't have a card on file for you. Were you going to pay cash for room service?"
Me: "You do have a card. I gave it to the front desk guy when I checked in."
Them: "No, we don't. There's something wrong - the card won't go through."
Me: (Totally paranoid that something might be wrong with my card that I know is perfectly good and replenished) "I don't understand. When I checked in, I gave him a card."
Them: "Ok, we'll look into it." Call ended.
Them: "Ms. West, that card is not working. So, will you be paying cash? And, can you come down to the front desk to give them your new card?" (No offer of them to come up and get the card!)
Me: (Annoyed!) "Fine! Just send up the order. And, PLEASE don't call me back because I'm getting in the shower."
I'm in the shower thinking about the next day and how well the Social Media hot Seat is going to go (which, by the way, it was one of the highlights of the conference), totally unwinding from my trip and then....wait for it....riiiiiiing.
Bottomline: Holy cow, you just can't make this stuff up.