Hilariously bad travel: Hyatt's desk chair that wasn't there
by Josh Bernoff
Here's all I want from a hotel room: a nice firm bed, electricity, a working bathroom, and high speed Internet. It's also nice if the shades close. You can keep the robe and the marble fixtures.
The Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, where I stayed at the ePharma summit this week, provided all of those things, along with a very nice view of the lit up tall ships out the window. But the hotel omitted one thing I hadn't thought of -- a chair to sit on at the desk. As always, when expecting to be treated like a human, what happens next is what matters. So here's what happened next.
8:45 After arriving, called the front desk and requested a chair.
9:45 No chair, and time to sack out. So I call the desk and cancel the chair request. I also put out the "do not disturb" to make sure no misguided hotel employee interrupts my beauty sleep.
10:15 Inevitably, a knock on the door. An engineer has arrived with my chair, ignoring the "do not disturb." But this is no ordinary chair. It has a suspicious stain on the seat, and the back is broken. "It's all we have," he says. (I've stuffed a towel through it so you can see the cracks in the back.)
That's sufficient to get the Hyatt into my "hilariously bad travel story" category (look for more!) and on my "didn't treat me like a human" list. I suffer, you get to hear the story. (And I'm not even talking about ending up in a smoking room, the missing pages from the room service menu, or the fact that the breakfast order was wrong -- those things don't nearly reach the "hilariously bad" level.)
I emailed the manager Glenn Michael the next morning (it took the front desk half an hour to locate and provide his email address). I also left a complaint at Hyatt's corporate site.
As I was leaving the hotel that afternoon and retrieving my luggage from storage, Mr. Michael introduced himself, apologized on behalf of the hotel, and agreed that the situation was handled poorly. He also said they have chairs, and that the employee who delivered it had been reprimanded. (Sounds like a broader service problem than one employee to me).
Mr. Michael promised me enough reward points to pay for a free stay (if this happens to you, that's about the best you can expect). He hasn't followed through on that, yet, although he has my email address.
I still haven't heard from Hyatt corporate.
How important is acceptable hotel service in an economy where travel is hit hard? Does a blog post like this make a difference? Will Hyatt notice? Stay tuned.
Update (2/14): Mr. Michael reports he has credited my Hyatt awards account.
Update (2/19): Email from Hyatt Corporate. They are checking to see if they can comment on the blog with their perspective.
Update (2/25): Hyatt comes through with a very human touch in Seattle. See the post.