Here’s a nice holiday-themed story of how a kind Comfort Inn driver not only helped out a group of stranded travelers, but even agreed to take them to get food after they checked into their hotel. Maybe he was hoping for some big tips, or maybe he’s got some grudge against the local Holiday Inn. (Or maybe he’s a nice guy.) Whatever his motivation, he probably just earned some repeat business for Comfort Inn.
Interesting evening last night. You might think this was another Delta hatemail, but -though the tale of expected woe starts with them- this is really about how one hotel employee can poison a whole slew of airline passengers against her corporation, while another can foster appreciation in a competing hotel chain.
My mid-sixties mother was trying to get to our house near Gulfport, Mississippi from Tampa, and chose a Delta flight that would take her through Memphis. The plan was for the connecting flight to leave Memphis last night at 7:20pm, but by eight the plane still hadn’t arrived. (I’m assuming the usual Delta/NW-related snafus, as the passengers were not told it was weather.) The plane arrived sometime after 10pm, but it was noted the airport in Gulfport was closed at midnight, and the flight was canceled. Delta gave the passengers a meal coupon and a hotel voucher for Holiday Inn Express. Some of the passengers (my mother included) were told the checked baggage would not be released and to meet the Holiday Inn van at the Ground Transportation curb outside their terminal.
So the group my mother has found herself with wait for a period of time, with very little vehicle traffic passing by. Shortly before midnight, the van with Holiday Inn Express on the side appears, but drives right past them and stops at the far end of the terminal, apparently where baggage claim is. Her group now realizes that Delta HAS released baggage, without informing everyone, for there are a group of passengers down there with their bags and boarding the van. My mother’s group is waving and shouting as they dash for the van, and my mother felt that the driver clearly saw them, but did not acknowledge them. Before any of her group can get there, the woman climbs back into the van, half-full, and drives away.
When my mother gets to the baggage claim, a soldier awaiting other transportation says she informed the driver that there were a whole bunch of people trying to get her attention, but the driver simply dismissed them, as they were not where they were told to be. So my mother and her group stand around a bit, wondering now if the van is even going to come back.
Now this is where it turns positive: presumably as someone is trying to call Holiday Inn Express, a van from Comfort Inn arrives, asking if anyone needs a ride to that chain. The group responds that they only have vouchers for Holiday Inn Express, but the driver replies that they will be accepted. The remaining Delta passengers gratefully climb aboard. As it is almost midnight, and many of the passengers had not yet eaten dinner, they ask the driver if he can stop at any fastfood joint on the way to the hotel. He replies he’s not allowed to make intermediate stops, but he’ll be glad to take them after they check-in to the hotel…and he does! Wendy’s was the only local restaurant still half-way open after midnight and he has a van full of starving people. Oddly, Wendy’s will only take two separate orders from one vehicle at a time, so the driver orders twice, waits for the meals and then proceeds to drive around the restaurant to the drive-in as many times as it takes for all the passengers to get fed. And then he takes them back to the hotel for the night.
I could easily hear the appreciation in my mom’s voice on the phone for this Comfort Inn employee this morning (she’s stuck in Memphis until 3pm today). He picked up people that he wasn’t sent out for, assured them of a room, and then went the extra mile (literally and figuratively) to ensure everyone got fed. Holiday Inn Express’s employee took the initiative to leave ‘guaranteed’ clients on the curb, as some sort of bizarre punishment for not standing where she thinks is the right place.
Ooh-rah, Comfort Inn, for remembering why you’re in the business you are in. Holiday Inn joins Delta (a long time member) on my blacklist, as it apparently has with several weary travelers.