A Must-Learn Guest Service Lesson

I stayed at the Courtyard Hotel at Greenbelt, MD for the SBP11 Conference last week. The hotel features the new lobby design and nice guestrooms, as what we discussed before. Everything looks great. I rated this hotel an A in terms of facility and checking-in and checking-out processes. However, I can only give this hotel a D or D- in terms of handling guest request. There is a lesson needed to be learned.

I checked-in on Sunday and had an Express Mail delivered to my room on Tuesday (under a different name; labeled with my cell phone number). For sure, I would not expect the staff can figure out a different name on one’s own. As a result, I stopped by the Front Office Monday evening and informed two Front Desk Agents that I was expecting an Express Mail the next day under a different name. In particular, I requested these two Front Desk Agents to put the new name under my room. They told me that I was all set.

After I came back from the conference Tuesday evening, the evening staff told me that the hotel did not accept the package because the morning staff was not able to find the name in the hotel. I asked them to check my folio. It turned out that the Front Office Agents who worked in Monday evening put the name I requested under “comments” in my folio. Who would have thought to locate a guest package by looking at guest comments? I had requested the hotel to put an additional name under my room --- I guess the hotel staff either did not know Front Office operations or failed to listen to me.

Indeed, I needed the document the next day, but I would be in the conference from 8 am to 5 pm. The Front Desk Agents or even the supervisors were not helpful at all. They kept saying “I am sorry … I felt very sorry … Oh, I apologize.” As a guest travelling for business, I did not want to listen to apologies. I needed solutions. I was told I can pick up the package by myself in the post office if I needed it. I was then given the post office address. I asked for the hours of operations. Nobody was able to tell me. The truth was I would not have time to pick up the package myself.

I am an experienced traveler and know hotel operations well. I decided to solve the problem by myself. I took the following actions: (1) made sure that the Front Desk Agent “shared” my room with a different name (in order words, my room was “registered” under two names/guests); (2) looked up the Post Office’s number on the Internet and call the Post Office first thing in the morning; and (3) once the package was located, I requested the package delivered one more time to the hotel. With my efforts, the package was delivered on Wednesday.

What can the hotel learn from this case? First of all, they should have created a “shared” guest account in the first place so that they could easily locate the guest/room number when the package arrived. Second, if they could not locate the guest, they could have called the number listed on the delivery label before rejecting it. Third, they could have offered more assistance to the guests with whom they messed up, such as helping the guest call the Post Office to request a redelivery. Would you agree?

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