On the road: hotel horribility

Surely you’ve seen the hidden video from an Atlanta hotel, where a housekeeper was seen using industrial cleaner on drinking glasses. Or maybe you’ve been bitten by bed bugs. It’s tough to keep things clean in a hotel – my former colleague and travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt always removes the bedspread as soon as he enters a room.

This week I encountered a small surprise while staying at the Hudson Hotel in New York:

Notice the lip stain on the cup? I’m glad I did before I used it. The hotel didn’t respond on Twitter and I didn’t bring it up when checking out, because while somewhat disgusting, I’ve encountered worse. Like:

  • Using a hand towel then seeing foundation smeared on it from a previous guest (original W hotel, New York)
  • Opening a bottle of water then realizing it had already been opened – someone had refilled it with tap water to avoid paying a fee (Hilton Chicago)
  • Stepping into the shower at 6 am the day of a client pitch and looking up to find a giant cockroach on the shower head (Holiday Inn Baltimore Inner Harbor – and we won the work)
  • Finding a mousetrap under the bed, thankfully not sprung…or maybe better if it had been? (Sheraton New York)

    Mousetrap behind bed - Sheraton NY

  • Waking up early to get online and do some work, then hearing a scratching sound in the vent above. A mouse? No, a BAT! Which then came out of the vent and was flapping wildly around the room. (InterContinental Austin)

So, let’s say you do want to bring a situation like this up with the management. I’ve seen people complaining wilding, ranting and raving about never staying at a property again. Many times, the hotel is better off without them anyway. I’d recommend an alternate approach. Ask to speak to someone with authority privately or at least out of earshot of other guests. Describe the issue you encountered and stick to facts, leave threats – veiled or not – out of the conversation. Then ask for something specific and reasonable that can be accomodated – whether a reduction in your bill, loyalty program points, or other.

If you just want to rant, that’s what social media is good for. If you want results, have a face-to-face conversation. I’d love to hear your horror stories and tactics for dealing with them!

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