Did you ever meet someone who instantly ruined an entire experience with their attitude? You know, someone in a position of power who thinks it’s their job to tell you they’re in charge? If this sounds familiar, then you’ve met someone like ‘Brian’ the front desk clerk at the Hotel Skylar.
Yesterday, I was in Syracuse, New York to speak with the advertising students of Syracuse University and help them learn from my experience and provide some wisdom about advertising. Tips on how to get a job. Introduce them to the wonders of healthcare advertising. You know, helping them see what’s possible in their future.
My first meeting with the students was at 5 PM. When I arrived at the hotel at 2:05 PM, Brian informed me that I couldn’t check-in, since check-in time began at 3 PM. He didn’t look to see if my room happened to be ready. He didn’t even ask me for my name. He just saw someone approaching the front desk with a suitcase and decided that I must be trying to check-in.
I told him I would wait, and sat quietly in the corner of the lobby reading and responding to e-mails.
After 10 minutes, he came over and asked if I’d like something to drink or eat. I thought, OK, maybe he’s not a total jerk. I told him I’d love a bottle of water. He pointed to a little room, where they sold drinks and snacks. “Water? We sell that, help yourself and I can charge it to your room.” He continued, “we also sell premium coffee or you can have the cheap stuff for free.” Isn’t that special. He’s trying to up sell me on drinks while I’m waiting to check in.
“Ahhh, no thank you.”
It’s now 2:20 PM, Brian comes over again and suggests I walk around campus while I’m waiting. “Wouldn’t you like to stroll around campus? It’s just outside the front door.” I once again declined. I was happy to sit and read e-mail. Even though I was getting very thirsty.
Fifteen more minutes go by. 2:35 PM. Brian comes over and informs me that my room is now ready for early check-in, if I’d like to check-in now. I told him I’d be over in a minute, once I finished reading e-mail. At 2:40 PM I came over to the desk. Filled out the paper work. Got my room key. Then Brian said something incredible.
He said, “Mr. Levy, we’re going to waive to early check-in fee for you today.”
Excuse me? You were going to charge me an early check-in fee for 20 minutes? Really? I can’t believe how kind he was. I’m shocked that he had the authorization to make that call on his own. Perhaps we should check with senior management at the hotel just to make sure we’re not getting poor Brian in trouble.
So I decided to call the 800 number to check the policy. Sure enough, the woman on the phone told me that there was indeed a 3 PM check-in time and there would be no exceptions. But then I asked, “Lets say I showed up at 2:30 PM and the room was available, could I pay to check-in early?” She thought for a moment then said, “Sir, I’m sure if the room was available, we’d let you check-in” And the cost? “Sir, there would be no additional cost to you.”
So Brian, what were you trying to pull? Did you think that by giving me something for nothing, I would feel better about my experience? “Wow, that guy let me check-in 20 minutes early, and didn’t charge me.”
I can’t let this go. Brian, I can’t let you waive the mysterious check-in fee. So, I’m going to pay for my 20 minutes. Since the room was $189/night – with a check-in at 3 PM, and check-out at 11 AM – that means the room is mine for 20 hours. That’s $189, divide it by 20 hours, and you get $9.45/hour. Since I’m only using the room for and additional 20 minutes, you divide again by .33 and get $3.12.
Yes Brian, I’m sending the Hotel Skylar a check for $3.12. I will write you a personal note of apology. I don’t know what I was thinking, you know, trying to check-in early.
I also plan to write a little review on TripAdvisor.com and any other website that asks for hotel recommendations. So how was the hotel? It was fine. How was the service? Do you really need to ask?
Oh, and by the way – I think my speech was great.