DASM: The Viking Hotel

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

9 thoughts on “DASM: The Viking Hotel

  1. Alan,

    Reading this post I couldn’t help thinking, why didn’t person just do some simple math in their head. They had the information that you wanted 30 nights at the prevailing rates. If the rate was $100 a night for 30 nights that’s $3,000 time the number of participates say 15 takes it to $45,000 just for rooms. And they continued to push you on what your budget was?

    Having been in Newport a number of times during the timeframe you wanted I understand you’re wanting to know if they had the availability, but, based on the rudimentary math I just did and they should have done, their response should have been yes we have the availability, the contract is in the mail and we offer a 10% discount if payment is made upon acceptance of the contract.

  2. Because the Viking Hotel has dreadful management. The GM never returned my call, and his incompetence is reflected in the dimwitted approach of his sales department. You know, this is far from the best property in Newport, and they ought to be charming people, not annoying them.

    • You’re correct, especially since they called you. One would think that the GM would have the sense to follow up.

      It seems that management has gotten away from understanding (or caring) what real customer satisfaction means. It doesn’t mean that the customer is always right, but, that if you want sustainable business you need to develop a process for strong customer retention. Far too many managers and their subordinates play it safe and refuse to push the boundaries which limits their opportunities in a number of ways.

      Had the GM’s subordinate taken the initiative and provided you with the dates you wanted, it would have resulted in a new client. Instead it gets them in the running for DASM management of the year award. Which by the way I think should be an annual event you host (virtually of course) by allowing us to vote for our favorites and the winner receives a certificate of recognition of being selected the DASM Managed Company of The Year.

  3. Note that they don’t track the internet, or Google Search would have turned up this discussion about them. Or maybe they do, it did, and they don’t care.

    • What is interesting is you go to their website, hosting meetings is prominently featured. Not to mention that according to Meetings East Magazine they are a top 50 meeting hotel also listed on their website. Have to wonder how that happen with the lack of response you received.

  4. I’m sure Meetings East rates hotels based on how much they advertise or lobby. I’ve never seen a survey or vote from them. Hotel management is among the dumbest int the world, “handing off” people who want to hold meetings to three or four different people all requesting the same information; they charge for wifi; their rate structures are as confusing as the airlines; they instruct maids not to replace shampoos unless they are nearly empty; they take far too long to check you in. There are certainly standouts, but most of them treat guests like cattle. I love the minibars where, if you so much as jostle a bottle, you’re electronically charged!

  5. I don’t know it’s a neck and neck race between hotel management and management at the airlines. Have to wonder if they just don’t swap people in an out from each other.

  6. Hotels have guests, not customers. Yet retail transactional thinking is replacing the sense of hospitality most hotel (and restaurant) staff used to be inculcated with. It’s become extremely sad to watch and even more so to work with.

  7. I think that’s unequivocally true. You can tell as soon as you’re at the front desk, or if no bellman/doorman appears to help with the luggage.

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