There are some hotels where they simply do things wonderfully, because management is smart and sets the example. I love the Four Seasons in Palm Beach for meetings, as I do Castle Hill Inn in Newport. I can trust them to be responsive and consistently excellent. On the other side of the ledger, you don’t own a gun large enough to get me to back to The Breakers in Palm Beach, where they seem to think that you’re lucky to be there, so keep quiet. We’ll charge you a lot and ignore you.
I was recently contacted by The Viking Hotel in Newport in a marketing initiative, and the sales director asked if I’d be interested in having one of my meetings there. We used The Viking many years ago as “headquarters” for my family when my daughter was married at The Astors/Beechwood mansion. So I proposed a new program I’ve scheduled in September as a trial run. I was impressed that they would reach out like that.
The sales director told me an associate would be in touch (the infuriating “handoffs” that poorer properties engage in) and the next day I received the call. The associate asked me the same questions I had already answered, and then kept insisting: “What is your budget?” I replied twice that I was booking over 30 room-nights and the conference room and meals at whatever their rates were. But did they have availability? Money wasn’t an issue, availability was.
She kept hammering me about budget, as if I were a wedding planner. I finally demanded to know about availability and she told me: “That person isn’t here today, you’ll have to wait until Monday.” I said, “Are you seriously telling me you can’t check room availability right now?” She told me I’d have to wait, and I told her I didn’t because they had just lost my business.
I called the general manager, received a message that he’d be back Monday, so I detailed what had happened on his voice mail. If I were he, I’d want to know. As of Wednesday morning, he’s not bothered to respond. Maybe I have to wait until next Monday. But maybe that example he set is followed by his staff.
The Viking is in a competitive struggle in Newport—how would you like to be an investor in a property run like that? Thus, I am awarding them the most recent Dumb-Ass Stupid Management award. I’m assuming they have the budget to take care of it.
© Alan Weiss 2014