Yesterday, I went to a seminar in Philadelphia. Because the seminar was starting at seven in the morning, I stayed at Hotel X the night before. Capital mistake. Date notwithstanding, temperatures outside dropped below thirty and the hotel had no heat. I called the desk. The clerk explained that because I had the corner room, the heat wasn’t getting to me. She said they’d find me another room. That didn’t happen. So the night before the conference, I went to bed wearing two sweaters, woolen socks, and I doubled up the comforter to get warm. My skin turned into cracked, dry leather from the cold by the time I woke the next morning.
I’m usually slow to get up, especially since I’ve had my health issues. Not this time. I was out of bed, dressed, and ready for the conference long before seven. After I checked out, I headed over to Starbucks to warm up with their coffee and breakfast. Because I wasn’t sure of the exact location of the seminar, I headed toward the address given me. The upshot was, I got there a half-hour early. The registrars – there were seven – kindly pointed that out. So I explained that I’d stayed at a hotel room without heat, that I was freezing, hence my early arrival.
“Oh, my! Which hotel?” one woman asked.
“Hotel X,” I replied loud enough for everyone to hear.
Let’s back up and look at what happened. I had a bad experience at a hotel. Upon arrival at my seminar I told seven people what happened. When I took my seat, I met three other respiratory therapists and proceeded to describe Hotel X’s poverty of heat. Will these folks go home and tell their families about Hotel X? I wonder.
Moral of the story: bad customer service to just one person can lead to disaster. The negative reports will have wider reaching and often permanent effects on your reputation. A former boss once told me that if I did nineteen out of twenty things well and the twentieth poorly, patients will focus on the thing I did poorly. I think he had it right. Hotel X had a beautiful bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a wall-mounted TV screen. But it’s pretty hard to enjoy those things when you’re shivering in two sweaters.
Why haven’t I given the hotel’s real name? Because of a thing called tortious interference. That and Jonathan Maberry’s advice on the importance of positive interaction, that negative will only generate more negative. This applies to any marketing, whether you’re trying to promote your books, food, or services. However, I will suggest that you look long and hard at the reviews before you make reservations at any hotel, and make your reservation way in advance. I studied the reviews, but I sought out the vacancies too late to get a better hotel.
Stuff happens and we’re all human. Humans make mistakes, right? So what could Hotel X have done to keep me as a customer? They could have offered at least a partial refund or a Visa gift card. This comes under the heading of service recovery. Example: one person who ordered a NTD book ran into problems with PayPal, and for some reason there was a delay with me getting the monies (and order). Meantime he was out his money for the eBook. I sent him his eBook with a nice email and a complimentary copy of one of the other NTD books.
Keep it positive. Positive publicity generates more positive.