It’s NOT OK to Touch a Stranger’s Underwear!
Listen, I’m all about having great systems in place. However when the system is more important than the people you serve then common sense needs to prevail.
This past week I arrived at a hotel a day earlier than the actual reservation. The client had handled the room details. So when I tried to check in, they could not find the reservation. It seemed to be no big deal. I just grabbed the room a night sooner. This was Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, I facilitated a birthday training class from 2-5pm. I headed for the room to drop my stuff so we could go to dinner. My key did not work. A malfunctioning key is no an unusual occurrence for me. I figure it’s my magnetic personality demagnetizing the key! Just kidding.
So I head back to the front desk and you’ll never believe what happened. I say, “My key won’t work, I’m in 239.” She looks at me and says, “Are you sure?” I thought that was a weird answer. I said, “Well I was in there this morning and last night…and by the way, so is and was my stuff!” She clarifies that I know my own name; and so I get out my driver’s license to offer up proof that I’m sure I’m who I say I am. I go on to explain that I had a reservation that actually started on the 10th, but that I had arrived a day early so I was already checked in. The desk person looks me in the eye and says, “Mam, I see your reservation and you haven’t checked in yet.”
Now I know that I have two options at this point. I can get ballistic, and truthfully, my exasperation meter was in the red; or I could simply act as confused as they were (and I was truly very confused by this time.) Luckily my cooler head prevailed, and the concern about my where my underwear and my make-up were outweighed my urge to punch someone.
As the plot thickened, I discovered that they had packed up all the stuff in my room and brought it down to lobby. I was stunned. I ask, “Did you get everything out of the drawers?” Yup… They did recheck me in to a new room and the young man that handled my clothes, make-up, etc. helped me up to my new room which by the way, was exactly the same type of room as the old room. I travel a bazillion days a year and I have NEVER had an experience like this.
At dinner that evening I met up with a dear friend of mine in the industry who works for Embed. His name is Phil Showler. I was sharing my hotel do-da story and find out that as a bizarre coincidence Phil had been checked into room 239 that afternoon! I didn’t even know Phil was going to be at this event. I’m pretty sure that he could have been checked into room 540 where I was moved to and been perfectly content with that room!
The accommodations in both rooms were very nice. The people were nice. The systems were not nice. They were unable to use common sense in this situation. I’m not sure what it would have taken for there to have been a wiser transition in this case and apparently neither did the staff on that Wednesday afternoon.
On the morning that I checked out, I stopped to get my receipt. In the confusion of the room shuffle of the first night I had not received verification of the charges. The young woman that had checked me in originally was working the desk as I was leaving on Friday morning. I explained to her what I happened. She seemed horrified. Apparently she had given me the same room for the second reservation. This young woman tracked down who was working so she could review the situation and she also reached out to her boss and got approval to comp the room. I want to be clear, the only reason I stopped at the desk was to make sure that I had only been required to pay for the first night and to grab my receipt. It’s my experience that if anything is goofed up with a hotel room charge it’s a lot easier to get it fixed before you leave the premises.
I would encourage you to look at systems that you have in place. Technology is wonderful but often times it can get in the way of common sense. Do what’s right. Put yourself in the guest’s shoes. I’m pretty sure that if someone had taken the time to consider how uncomfortable having their own underwear handled by a stranger, they might have been able to come up with a better solution.
Do you have a system in place that might impede guest service? Have you ever had something wonky happen that a little common sense could have fixed? I’d love to hear about it.
Have a great week.