I recently took a trip which required me to travel from my home near Washington, DC to Seattle for an afternoon meeting, then take a redeye to New Orleans for an all day meeting the next day and return home that evening. In other words, two days, five flights and no hotels. Because my meeting in Seattle was scheduled to end by 4 pm and my flight wasn’t leaving until 11:30 pm, I thought it would be a good idea to make a hotel reservation anyway and get some rest, take a shower and change clothes before going to the airport. I made a reservation at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center and all seemed to be right with the world…
…until I actually got to Seattle and found out that I was expected to attend another meeting that evening and would be unable to use the hotel room I had reserved. I called the hotel to cancel the reservation and was told that it was too late; reservations had to be cancelled the day before and I would be charged the full room rate whether I checked in or not. I was a bit upset when they told me this, so I checked the Hilton website and sure enough, buried in the fine print, was the following quote:
“If you wish to cancel, please do so 1 day prior to arrival to avoid cancellation penalties.”
Of course one could argue that “cancellation penalties” and the full room rate are not inherently the same thing, but clearly the front desk staff were not empowered to make those kinds of decisions. I was obviously going to be paying $156.24 whether I checked in or not, so after my working dinner I checked in at the hotel, took the most expensive shower of my life, checked out, headed to the airport and flew to New Orleans.
Upon arriving in New Orleans I picked up my rental car and drove to the location of my meeting. Fortunately I knew where I was going since I used to work there. I also knew there was a gym nearby and if I was lucky the front desk staff would still remember me and (fingers crossed) would let me take a shower and change before heading into a meeting after being on an airplane (actually two) all night. Everything worked out as planned, but the best part was that not only did Scott at the front desk recognize me (he hadn’t seen me in almost five years), he said I looked at least five years younger than the last time he had seen me. Within 12 hours I had gone from the most expensive shower of my life which had put me in an absolutely rotten mood to a completely free shower at a gym that made me feel better than I had in a long time.
Thank you Hilton. Without the bad you can never truly appreciate the good.
Thank you Scott. Every now and then people need to hear something extra special, and you made my day.