Friday, May 26, 2006

Dateline: Dallas, May 24 -- A Hotel Rant

Once, while on a research trip, I saw some corporate bigwig shouting into his cell phone that “the !@%#* limo isn’t even here yet!” And I thought, How pathetic that someone so entitled, so overly privileged, is actually angry about his limousine not arriving on time. Gotta put that in a book.

But now I’m beginning to understand how that guy felt.

I’m on tour. I get up ridiculously early most mornings to get to some airport to do a day of media and then an event at night. The travel can be so stressful and exhausting that I need to be able to count on my hotel to do everything right, so I don’t have to worry about it.

In Miami, the hotel I stayed at near Books & Books (which shall remain nameless)turned out to be so incompetent it was funny. . . almost. When I checked in, they had me staying for one night (instead of three), and they had no record of payment from my publisher and demanded my personal credit card. OK, so people make mistakes, no big deal.

Next morning I had to get up early to do a Miami TV show. Called room service the night before, but no one could take my order; they told me I should hang a room-service request form on my doorknob. Which I did.

6:30 the next morning, no breakfast. At 7:00 I called down to room service, who said they had no record of any room service request from me. I went to the door of my room, and sure enough, the form was gone – someone had picked it up. Whoever picked it up never delivered it to room service. So no coffee before my TV appearance. Somehow, I did OK anyway.

Next morning, having learned my lesson about hanging the thing on the door, I decided to CALL room service at 6:30. It rang and rang, and no answer.

For half an hour. Rang and rang; no answer.

Finally, I went down to the front desk, where I was told that I should have hung a room-service menu form on my doorknob; "Right now, the room service people are too busy delivering breakfast to answer the phone." I put in an order for breakfast with the front desk.

It arrived an hour later. I’d asked for a large pot of coffee, and when I poured it out – it was hot water. No coffee.

Pretty much everything at this hotel worked like that. A FedEx package sent to me never arrived – it got there, but someone in the hotel lost it. My publicist faxed me something on Monday – never got it. She faxed it again, and I still didn’t get it. Tuesday night I went down to the front desk – no, Sir, no fax for you.

Around 10:00 that night came a knock at my door. Turned out they had indeed received the faxes -- but someone had put them in an envelope labeled “Mr. Fischer.”

Now I began to understand the frustration of the corporate bigwig whose limo never arrived.

Then I flew to Dallas and checked into the Adolphus Hotel. They handed me a fax that had just arrived. A few minutes after I got to my room, they delivered a FedEx package I’d just gotten, then another fax. Brought me a fruit tray as a VIP welcome gift (!). Coffee arrived, right on time, at 3:30 a.m.

The Adolphus is a beautiful, magnificently run hotel – and now I appreciate well-run hotels as never before.



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