The Monday Rant: If the Hotel's a Rockin' . . .
Not a week goes by, it seems, when we in Travel don't hear from some poor soul whose vacation was ruined by a bad hotel stay. The question is, what to do about it?
Case in point: I recently stayed at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center in preparation for an upcoming Travel story. Coincidentally, the hotel was also being visited by a large group from an organization called Student Ventures, which according to its Web site, is "the high school and junior high ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International."
In other words, the hotel was besieged by teens from all over the southeastern United States, and as you might expect, things got rowdy. Door slamming well into the wee hours, people running down the halls, loud talking in the corridors -- you know the drill.
So what do you do in that situation? Well, if you're like me, first you try to reason with the kids, telling them that no one in your room can sleep. Next, when that doesn't work, you call the front desk and complain. And when that proves ineffective, you visit the front desk and ask for another room, only to be told that there are no other rooms. Eventually, the police are called, at which point the corridor suddenly goes deathly silent, and everyone finally gets to sleep around 1:00 a.m.
"It's up to the hotel to quiet things," said Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry group. "And the way to do that is to empower the people at the front desk to do the right thing. The last thing you want to hear is, 'I have to call the general manager and he doesn't come in until 8 o'clock in the morning.'"
In the Sheraton's case, after an initial period of confusion, the front desk personnel reacted well, offering to comp us for a night's stay and giving us a few complimentary breakfast coupons. But we -- and a few other parties -- lost a vacation night that we can never get back, which raises the question of whether you can ever be adequately compensated for a nightmare hotel stay.
One thing that McInerney was adamant about, however: "Always have the hotel handle the situation," he told me. "The last thing a guest needs to do is confront another guest. You don't know what kind of built-up rage the other person might have."
On the off chance that some of you have found yourselves in situations similar to mine, I'm wondering how you were able to defuse them (or not). What, if anything, was just compensation?
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