We are finally slamming the door on the few remaining church convention members that have been in the city the past 7-10 days.
They’ve been coming to St. Louis for the past three years, and most of them aren’t happy about it. They miss their usual host city of Memphis, so when they get here, they have a slight chip on their shoulder.
And nothing we do can please them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a handful of them that are extremely appreciative of our customer service, and are quite happy with all the freebies included in our room rate, but they in no way make up for the incredible amount of them that aren’t.
These people swarm into the hotel, dressed in their finest. They arrive in expensive suits, adorned with extravagant jewelry and showy hats. They have boxes of clothes and hats and shoes shipped to the hotel, because they won’t fit in their vehicles.
They demand help with their luggage, (we are not a full-service hotel, so we don’t staff a bellman – we use whoever is available), and they’ll happily tell us if whoever is available is not good enough. One time, the person available was me. I got looked up and down with the most condescending eyes, before I explained to her that I may look little, but I can manage this overstuffed luggage cart just fine. (And I did.)
A different group however, demanded a male to help, even though our female houseperson was waiting for them and more than capable. A few of us desk agents defended her, but they were having none of it. So we sent her away and called for a male. I’m sure you can guess how I felt about that.
Each room we checked in took at least 20 minutes. Every single group demanded a lower rate than their already discounted rate that they agreed to. Many of them didn’t have full payment for the room at check-in so were forced to wait for their roommates to arrive before they could check-in, or would use multiple forms of payment to cover their 7 night stay. Quite a few of them paid with cash, which requires even more steps in the already long check-in process.
Throughout their stay, they complained often, and then would blatantly ask for compensation because of it. We are normally a 100% satisfaction hotel, and have no qualms about giving money back if we did not meet their expectations or if we were unable to fix a situation.
But with these people, we knew they would be trying everything in their power to get something for nothing. So we weren’t caving easily.
This “church” convention loves to stay at our chain of hotels because we offer free hot breakfast and free cocktails and appetizers at night. They love free. Although they did not take us up on our free cocktails, they totally made up for it in the amount of food they would eat. We’d witness the same families taking up multiple plates of food over and over again. Who were they feeding? My guess? They were loading it into their fridge for lunches or snacks later on, or for friends staying in different hotels.
Of course, we never said anything, but today, the last family to leave, had the nerve to take the entire box of bananas one of our team had placed briefly up on the counter. She was so flabbergasted, that she just let them do it. And the day before, a different member of this family asked for some hot chocolate. When she was given a couple of packets, she demanded that she get the whole box!
Who does that?? I mean really! At what point does it become stealing?
Again, not everyone acted this way. Quite a few were more than generous with their praise, and we soaked that in whenever we could. Because the ones who complained and demanded so much without any appreciation were enough to wear us normally customer service oriented people out.
Our management was fed up as well. Many of the guests want to return again next year, but a few of them will be surprised to hear that they are not welcome in our hotel. Either they trashed their rooms, or they complained about every little thing in hope for compensation, or they demanded an extreme amount of unappreciated service. We’re all about repeat business, but when there are guests who cost us financially as well as emotionally, it’s just not worth it!
One of our desk agents straight out told a guest, “This city dreads when you all come into town. You are customer service’s worst nightmare.”
Maybe not something that should have been said out loud….
but absolutely dead on correct!