A wedding in the family served a worthy excuse for a Saturday night sojourn to a resort hotel in a small city two hours away from my hometown of Toronto. The venue was immaculate, the bride was stunning, the speeches were uproarious, the food was great and the whole shebang went off without a hitch. But an issue arose when I tried to arrange an early breakfast with my sister for the Sunday morning after the festivities.
She had to leave relatively early at 9am because she had a grueling seven hours ahead of her for the commute back home. Unfortunately, the main restaurant at our hotel didn’t open until 11am.
While not an outright deal-breaker, it was definitely cause for chagrin – a 9am start-time is vastly different than 7am or the crack of dawn when the real ‘early birds’ want their worm. Yet as an active member of the hospitality industry, I understand all too well about the additional labor costs associated with opening two or four hours earlier. But this is still something that should have been expressed at check-in specifically because the resort wasn’t situated in a bustling metropolis and because there were limited food options elsewhere, all of which would require us to leave the property. (Of note, my understanding was the resort was ‘sold out’ for the night, so it was not for lack of patrons!)
So there I am with my family, standing outside the entrance to a closed restaurant, scrambling to find an alternate solution before the hunger pangs and caffeine addiction kick in.
The first action was to return to the front desk for help. After some deliberation amongst the three clerks, they were able to suggest a brunch spot less than two blocks away. We promptly hop in the car and drive over, only to discover that the recommended diner also doesn’t open until 11am.
Now, not only am I hungry, but I’m angry at the front desk’s poor recommendation – ‘hangry’ being the apt portmanteau. White-knuckling the wheel as we move on with all other family members searching on their respective smartphones for other options, my wife turns to me and blithely whispers, “If you were the typical guest, that would be an automatic two stars off of your TripAdvisor review.”
Then it dawns on me. This one-two punch goes back to what I started writing about five years ago under the terminology of ‘double deviations’. Basically, when it comes to staff mistakes or a hotel’s inability to satisfy a guest’s exact preferences, one deviation is acceptable, but two in rapid succession are not.
The immediate lesson here is to properly train your staff on all restaurant or external vendor recommendations so that they never point guests in the wrong direction. Next, consider how you can adapt your own facilities to better cater to the early birds amongst us. I use early birds rather lightly: 9am on Sunday is not really that early.
As for me and my family, we drove around for a bit until we gave up and settled for a light nosh at Starbucks. Not to knock the coffee goliath, but it was a wholly unmemorable way to cap off an otherwise flawless destination wedding getaway, and certainly a poor reflection on this hotel.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on October 11, 2016)