An Unhappy New Year

I was excited. I had splurged for VIP tickets to an amazing weekend at the Harbor Hotel in D.C. I packed my bag and prepared for a great time. My girlfriend and I were going to ring in 2009 in style!

Man, was I disappointed. From my late fulfilled request for additional washcloths through the “consider it done” line (I considered myself done with the hotel when the washcloths appeared an hour and fifteen minutes later), to the event that was supposed to start at 6:00 p.m. that didn’t start until 8:30 p.m., to the bartender who, at 8:56 p.m., told me that he didn’t start serving until 9:00 p.m., I started 2009 not in celebration, but in aggravation. It was also my first 2009 lesson in service.

In this economy, where folks who are willing to pay good money for luxury items (like a New Year’s celebration vacation in a hotel) are in the minority, you would expect organizations to provide the best service possible. After all, in times like these, businesses don’t get second chances. This weekend provided opportunity after opportunity for the hotel staff to impress me and, later, redeem themselves; instead, they consistently under-delivered, under-performed, and under-executed and I was repeatedly disappointed. At the end of the weekend, I went to the front desk to pay and told the staff representative about my experience. Then, he relayed the information to the hotel’s manager and brought him out to speak with me. I expected an apology or some incentive to return; I would have even been pleased if he had wanted to know what went wrong so that he could fix it. Instead, he said “New Year’s is a really hard event to do and sometimes people have their own ideas about how everything is going to work out perfectly and that is just not realistic.”

He put the blame on me and I will never return to the hotel. I’ve already given my poor review to a friend who was considering a weekend stay as a Valentine gift. I’m wondering how long it will take for poor service to translate financially into dollars and cents for this hotel. In this economy, I’m better sooner rather than later.

We want to hear from you! Respond to one, all or none of the questions below. We just want to hear your thoughts!

  • Did you have a poor service experience on New Years? Tell us about it!
  • If this had happened to you, what could the manager have said that would have retained you as a returning guest?
  • How long do you think it takes poor service to impact the bottom line of an organization? Do you have a first hand example?