Platinum, Gold, Silver … and Lead.
I have been told on excellent authority that hotels do a little extra for guests who book direct—that is, who use the hotel’s web site to make their reservations rather than going through one of the on-line travel agencies such as hotels.com or expedia. Either that, or the guest who books on another site gets one of the less attractive rooms. That makes sense because the hotel pays a commission to the on-line booking agencies, leaving a bit less for the hotel.
I happen to be a member of the Hilton Honors program, and on my way back home from my NARP meetings in the San Diego area, I spent a night at the Hilton hotel at Los Angeles airport. When I checked in, I was acknowledged as an Honors member, thanked for my loyalty, and handed the key to my room. So far, so good.
However, my room was a great distance from the elevator. So far, in fact, that heading down to dinner, I paced it off. One hundred-and-thirty-five long paces—roughly 135 yards, or as long as one-and-a-half football fields.
In my room, I pulled open the drapes and found myself staring at a massive, grey concrete wall not more than 15 feet away. If I stepped close to the window and looked to the right, I could see a small portion of the hotel swimming pool.
When I got back home, I emailed the people at Hilton Guest Assistance, politely calling their attention to what was without doubt one of the worst rooms in the hotel. The next day comes an obvious one-size-fits-all response, the first sentence promising “to assist with the view from your room” and the following four paragraphs about how hard Hilton tries to satisfy all of their guests.
I responded by saying I simply wanted them to be aware that one of their Honors members had ended up in what had to be one of the least desirable rooms in the entire property.
That prompted another email from a Hannah C. It included the following sentence:
“We can ensure you that it is always our intention to please our guests, no matter what their HHonors status.”
Ah . . . OK, I get the message: a Gold or Platinum status is one thing, but I’m Silver status and to Hilton that’s no big deal. A form letter of apology and a subtle reminder of my lowly status is all I get.
Hannah C, on the other hand, will get one last note from me suggesting that “assure” would be preferable to “ensure”. It’s the least I can do.