One Bad Apple, Part 2

The flurry of emails I received over the original post entitled “One Bad Apple” last week has prompted this follow up.  My feedback has come primary from 2 types; business travelers who could easily see themselves in this scenario and managers with OTHER hotel brands who were planning to use the blog post as a training tool for their teams.

Most were outraged by the Fairmont response.  Readers, of both the blog and the posted comment by Fairmont, had not missed what Fairmont had; that I had not lost MY phone, I was relaying the experience of a friend.  However, this lack of attention to detail is representative of the problem and makes me wonder just how many “bad apples” there are in this particular basket…

Here’s a part of the response from Fairmont:

“We were terribly sorry to learn that your iPhone has been misplaced. As you mention Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has built an enviable reputation on delivering exceptional guest service.

According to our records, a manager was immediately dispatched to the guest room upon receipt of your call and unfortunately the missing property was not found in the room. Our management logs further note that another manager was sent to the room that same day to again search for the phone.”

I asked each of the managers of OTHER hotels who responded why they felt the phone had indeed been left in the room and not “misplaced” somewhere else.  Their collective response can be summed up by this:

“No one leaves their phone WITH the charger still attached in the back of a cab!  Plus, the GPS indicated it was STILL IN THE BUILDING!”

I also asked what the other hotel managers would have done in this situation. Each would have not only checked the room, but would have gone immediately to the housekeeping staff to ask about the phone in case it was still on someone’s cart waiting to make it’s way to lost and found.

If the team cleaning the rooms “didn’t have it”, they would have pulled out their cell phones and called the number listening for the ring “in case it had gotten into the trash in error”.

In each instance, they outlined far greater steps they would have taken in an attempt to recover my friend’s phone.  Each of them seemed to take the loss far more personally than the staff at the Fairmont – but then, that likely explains why I personally choose to stay at other brands of hotels when I travel…

The lesson for all business people  is your response to a complaint matters. If the Fairmont had done all it could have done and the phone was still gone; that’s life, it would have never made it to my blog.  However, their bare minimum response of “we went to the room and it wasn’t there”, their refusal to talk to responsible staff members even in the face of GPS proof of location and their erroneous and patronizing reply has outraged business travelers and hotel managers alike.

In this electronic age (think the 1-800-FLOWERS/Twitter episode and the You Tube “United breaks guitars”) HOW you respond to a complaint is critical.

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One Response to “One Bad Apple, Part 2”

  1. Victoria Says:

    Interesting update. The response from the Fairmont missed the mark in so many respects. You provided them the perfect opportunity to fix their mistakes yet they made it much worse. The manager could have personally called you or your friend to apologize (no cost to the Fairmont, but good will built); your friend could have been offered a free night or two at the hotel (may cost them less than a new phone and provides a new and better experience to replace the last one); or your readers could have been offered a discount (likely few would actually have the need to use it, but what a gracious gesture it would have been). There are many, many ways to say “I’m sorry.” Apologies are important, as are the timing of apologies. The Fairmont apparently needs to learn this lesson the hard way.


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