Not too long ago, I walked into the hotel lobby of a well respected and some might consider high end hotel chain at 2.30am.  I had just flown cross country and was somewhat tired.  Upon trying to check in, I was advised that my reservation was not for Monday night (2.30am on Tuesday is considered Monday in the hotel world), but instead for Tuesday.  I acknowledged the snafu on my side, but nonetheless needed a room for the night.  Much to my surprise, I was informed that there were no rooms available.  The only thing they could offer me was a parlor room with a pull out couch.  After much conversation back and forth, the front desk attendant insisted there were no available rooms.

At this point it is close to 3am and I need to determine plan B.  Before calling one of the popular hotel booking sites, I decided to call the 1-800 number of the hotel whose lobby I was standing in.   Surprisingly, the reservation agent indicated that the hotel indeed had rooms and was not sure why the desk attendant couldn’t figure that out.  At this point I am confused, but happy.  So, I saunter over to the front desk again and meet with the attendant and the night shift manager.  While the manager did provide me with a room, he would not explain how a room “magically” appeared in the matter of 15 minutes.  He chalked it up to a communication issue.

While I was glad to have a room I was extremely disappointed in the service I received up until that point.  Fortunately the story gets better.  The overall service at the hotel was fabulous and the hotel must have some type of system where they share issues from the previous day.  Upon returning to my room the next day, the GM of the hotel had left me a note with a gift and asked that I call him to discuss the issue.  I did speak to the GM and he fully explained why a room “magically” appeared.

That follow up note and communication with the GM was a great example of how to rebound from lackluster customer service. Clearly the GM saw the big picture and understood the importance of customer satisfaction.  If I had booked the room correctly none of this would have happened.  So I accept my role.  Could the front desk attendant done more?  Could they have inquired more?  Could they have escalated versus telling a customer “sorry” at 2.30am in the morning?  Maybe.  Many front line staff don’t feel empowered.  Some lack empathy and some just don’t understand and or care.  Hopefully it was a learning moment for all involved.

Rindge Leaphart