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Wednesday 21 October 2015

Hotels sometimes forget they are in the hospitality industry

So far this morning I have had a hotel try to rip me off and then waste my time, had a receptionist insinuate that I was liar and been treated with rudeness and disrespect by a duty manager - all before 7am. 

To be fair, I have stayed a couple of time before at the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport. It is superbly situated, offers comfortable rooms and generally helpful staff, and the room service nasi goreng I enjoyed last night was excellent. 

But it all went horribly wrong this morning when an "express check-out" envelope showing a balance of $50 on my room account was posted under my door. The only problem was that there was a $40 food credit applied to my booking that should have been deducted (as had been confirmed when I checked in). 

This meant I had to stop at reception rather than heading straight to the airport; and the receptionist couldn't find any trace of the credit, or so she claimed.

"No," she said. "There is nothing there." I asked her to check again. No joy. I pointed out that the receptionist the previous evening had seen it. "Who checked-in you in?" she asked.

Infuriated, and fearful of missing my plane, I asked to speak to a duty manager. Big mistake. 

The duty manager turned out to be a young fellow; cocky, rude and dismissive and perhaps annoyed at having his morning coffee interrupted. But after a few keystrokes and a furrowed brow he'd solved the problem and found the credit note. The missing missive had miraculously reappeared. 

"It's sorted," he said. No apology. 

Incensed, I then pointed out that I had a GHA Discovery card which had failed to earn me a room upgrade, or "local amenity". "It wasn't registered," he said. I pointed out that I had emailed the hotel two days earlier with the card details. 

"I'll sort it out," he said brusquely. Presumably he plans to cart a cheese platter or fruit plate down to Tasmania personally. Or maybe the card wasn't valid. That's by the by, but indicative of a greater malaise.  

Given the fact that the hotel wifi had also dropped out several times during my stay, I handed over my business card and asked that the hotel manager ring me. "I'll do what I can," said Mr Charisma. 

"No, you misunderstand," I said. "I am a hotel guest and I want you to ask the the GM to call me."

"I'll do what I can," he said again, before walking away. 

Now it is easy to dismiss my complaints as nitpicking, "first-world problems" and self-indulgent.

Go ahead. But the reality is that tourism is a major money earner for Australia and if the rip-off and inability to find paperwork had happened to an overseas tourist with limited English it could have been more than embarrassing if they had felt they were being accused of lying. 

Australian hotels, some of them at least, need to lift their game and remember they are in the "hospitality" industry. Guests are supposed to be assisted, not insulted. Maybe better staff training is in order, or maybe some arse-kicking for cocky "managers".

UPDATE: The general manager called me the following day and was most apologetic. My message had not been passed on to him, but he had been advised of this blog. Action is being taken on the check-out systems, and I understand words have been had with staff.  

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