Put this into the category of stories that I would never of thought that I would have to tell. I was recently traveling to Ohio to meet with a client, as well as conduct an interview of a new Account Manager that I was looking to employ. While this trip was full of strange travel occurrences, I am going to specifically focus on one.
To start, it is important to know that I was traveling alone. Just myself, suitcase, and my briefcase, (I always travel light). I booked a room at a new hotel on the west side of the city, the Courtyard by Marriott Toledo West. Upon arrival, I checked in, threw my bags in the room, and then proceeded to head over to the bar to complete some of my work. I had asked the staff how long the hotel had been open, in which they informed me that they’d only been open for only about a week. The bartender had made the worst drink possible, but I knew that she was new so I chose to not even mention it. Shortly after I had wrapped up my work, I grabbed some dinner at a restaurant in front of the hotel. After dinner, I paid the check, grabbed some water at the market in the hotel, went back to my room and watched Netflix. It was 8:30 PM.
I woke up the next morning at 4:00 AM, went to the gym for about 90 minutes, and then got ready for my day. I wanted to try and get an earlier flight home, however, the weather hindered that from occurring. I decided to work from the airport for the rest of the day. While I was working, I had gotten a notice from my credit card that a second charge was authorized for $250. This charge was from the Courtyard by Marriott Toledo West. I knew that this charge was not correct, so I forwarded the email to my assistant and then proceeded to continue my work. I was making a job offer to the interview I had the day before, when my assistant replied informing me that the charge was from the hotel accusing me of having a cat in my room, violating their no pet policy.
Now first off, I don’t have any pets and my assistant knows this. She told me that the front desk said that I had snuck in a cat at 2:30 in the morning. They told her that they had watched the video tapes overnight and saw me sneaking in the cat. She proceeded to go back and forth with them for two days, trying to prove that I did not have a cat. Frustrated, I called the Marriott Elite line and went to file a complaint. The lady on the phone seemed confused how I was being charged for a cat based off of a video tape, but she said she would call the hotel and see what she could do. The General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Toledo West was out of the office for lunch, so she said she would call me back. However, I never received a call back.
After repeated calls, my assistant was able to get the Courtyard by Marriott Toledo West to admit they had charged the wrong person, and that it was someone else who had snuck a cat into their hotel room. The next day, my assistant sent the General Manager an email, asking for a refund for my night because of the loss of work the issue had caused her and myself. The hotel responded with the below email:
Although we are new to open this hotel, we are not new at all to the hospitality industry. We go above and beyond for all our guests and we run top hotels in the nation. We made an error. We acknowledged our mistake and apologized for our mistake and it was corrected immediately.
While this statement may be true it is not the whole story. They did correct the issue, but the credit card charge was the next day, not overnight when it apparently occurred. Most likely the GM made the error herself. This hotel was using video tapes in an to attempt to catch people sneaking in animals. Then they took the time to try and figure out which guest name was with the cat, not sure how that part worked.
I also am the highest level of status at this hotel for my loyalty and travel frequency. Something that Marriott does not value enough to even return my call from the customer complaint line.
Overall, you should never make assumptions about your clients in an attempt to charge them more. My guess is that the hotel has setup a compensation plan to try and get every nickel they can out of their guests. This level of unprofessionalism not only shows the lack of privacy you have while staying at a Marriott hotel, but that they are also willing to just charge you for things, giving up a lack of control. They would have been better served to call me about this issue before they made the assumption.
Since I now know what Marriott is doing to their guests, I can say that this leads to brand damage. This comes after the hotel chain is being caught overcharging guests on their agreed rate and losing the identities of guests for over four years and counting.
So, how does this apply to a small business BLOG? You can learn a lot about what could be better. Companies who try and squeeze every penny out of their clients do not make it. They end up as a damaged brand. Think of ways to better interact with your clients instead of looking for ways to drain them of more cash.