Staying at the Hilton for his first-year wedding anniversary, Brian and his wife had to suffer through two different groups of fellow guests prank-calling his room, excessive noise, and a non-working air-conditioner. They did give him one free night for his troubles, but that didn’t make his experience any less unpleasant. Here’s the letter he just shot off to the CEO of Hilton Hotels and other top-ranking executives to express his dissatisfaction. It got him his entire stay refunded, a voucher for two-nights stay at any Hilton, and, holiest of holies, an apology from the manager.
Dear Mr. Nassetta,
I recently stayed at the Hilton for my first wedding anniversary. My wife and I travel as often as possible, and we usually enjoy staying in the Hilton family of hotels, including Doubletree, Hilton, and Hilton Garden Inn. We choose your hotels because we enjoy nice amenities and quality service.
During this particular stay (April 2010), we had a very unpleasant experience. A very large group of high school music students were checking in right behind us. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I sure did later that evening when they were wrestling in their rooms until about 2am, and running up and down the corridor. My wife travels with ear protection to help her sleep at night, so I figured that she may enjoy some rest. That notion went out the window as soon as the prank phone calls started. Evidently, some of the more clever high school students decided to call my room repeatedly, indicating that they were Hilton “room service” and that they were confirming my order of 15 pizzas. I know – why didn’t I think of such a clever ruse at the tender age of 15? Needless to say, the volume of the bedside phone is rivaled only by a select few jet engines and/or mythological banshees. My wife was not pleased.
On top of the tremendous noise being made by the students, the air conditioning unit in the room wasn’t functioning properly, blowing warm air instead of cold, which made resting very difficult.
That was just the first night of a three night stay.
I work in an industry in which I have customers, and not everything is within my control. So I do understand that the story above may leave you thinking “It’s not OUR fault that some rowdy high-school kids caused a commotion”. I would tend to agree with that sentiment. However, being the type of consumer that values my hard earned dollars, I called down to the front desk (or so I thought) to ask for some assistance with the air conditioning and the noise.
To my dismay, the call was sent to another “front desk” (the location of which I am still unsure) who asked me what the problem was. I explained, after which the attendant asked “You wanted the HILTON front desk, didn’t you?” My first question is, who in God’s name SHOULD I be calling when I press the Hilton front desk button on my insanely loud
I was apparently transferred from that point to the actual Hilton front desk, where I was again asked to tell my tale of unpleasantness. The front desk “manager” said that she would send someone up to “check” on the noise level. She also said that she would send up a maintenance technician to investigate the air conditioner. “No thank you!”, I said, realizing the pain I would suffer if I had to ask my wife to dress so we could exit the room for a few minutes while the technician determined the cause of the problem. “I would like to wait until morning for the maintenance crew to inspect the air conditioner, but I would be happy if the noise level could be reduced”.
That call was made at approximately 12am. The noise level had not subsided by 2am or so. I’m not really sure because I’m fairly certain I passed out from exhaustion.
The following morning my wife and I left our room rather early, hoping to get a jump on our day. We returned to our room around noon, and noticed that the air conditioner had not been fixed, and that housekeeping hadn’t been by. I called down to the front desk, and I spoke to the day manager, who was much more polite than the night manager. She said that she would have maintenance up to the room immediately and that housekeeping gets a late start due to an 11 am checkout time. Understandable I suppose. So I decided that it would be in my best interest to leave the room for awhile and return later. We returned about 2.5 hours later to find the exact same situation, only the room was now hotter.
I called the front desk again and spoke the manager, who indicated that she would reduce my charge by one night’s stay (which after the whole ordeal, I am thankful for), and would get maintenance to check again. I asked if it would be possible to move to a similar room that may be available. The manager indicated that if the air conditioner couldn’t be fixed, then she would try to reserve another room for me.
The air conditioner was fixed that evening. I thought all was well and that we’d enjoy a peaceful night’s rest. Wrong.
Another group of teens had checked into the hotel, and were just returning from Medieval Nights as my wife and I returned from dinner. The same situation as the night before ensued, only this time, the phone calls consisted mainly of heavy breathing.
Again, I called the front desk (wiser this time, asking to speak with the “Hilton” front desk). The night manager (who was entirely unpleasant and unhelpful) indicated to me that there was nothing she could do, and that I should just hang in there because this particular group would be checking out the next day.
Mr. Nassetta, I would be a liar if I said that money was not important to me. However, when I plan a trip, even a short one such as this, I fully intend on spending money for the hotel that I book. In return for that money, I expect a certain level of service, which is why I chose the Hilton and not Motel 6.
I am incredibly disappointed with the level of service that the staff at the Myrtle Beach Hilton provided. I am appalled that I was not immediately moved to a different floor, or a room that was not adjacent to a group of high-schoolers. This hotel has 16 stories. I’m certain that they did not occupy every floor. I am flabbergasted that I was booked on the same floor as a very large group of teenagers, considering that the staff at the Hilton must have known that this group was going to be present.
The next time I book a hotel room, it will not be with any chain that falls under the Hilton family umbrella.
And this is the second email we got from Brian, telling us his EECB worked:
I just received a phone call (post-EECB) from the hotel manager at the Hilton I stayed at. He is making sure that the charges for my stay are reversed, and he is sending me a voucher for a two night stay at any Hilton hotel.
All of that is fantastic, and I certainly won’t complain about it. What really sealed the deal for me is that the hotel manager apologized. I realize that the situations caused by other guests are not caused by the Hilton or it’s staff members, but I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle against a staff (particularly the late shift staff) who did not care about my situation. I am thankful for the apology and the reimbursement, but the apology over the phone means more than a cold, callous voucher alone ever would have. Kudos to Hilton for making this right.
Once again, the all-mighty power of the Executive Email Carpet Bomb reigns supreme. To learn how to make and send one, check out “How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb.”