A Hotel Experience: From Agony to Ecstasy in Under 30 Minutes via Social Media

The part I enjoy most about my career is that occasionally, I get to travel to far-off places like Providence, Rhode Island. I had begun my work day as I boarded a Southwest Airlines plane at 9:00AM in Dallas, Texas. I flew through Saint Louis to Orlando. In Orlando, I had 10 minutes from the time I got off my plane until my next flight boarded. I grabbed a pre-made chicken wrap and hopped on my next flight to Norfolk, Virginia. I spent three hours working in Norfolk then hopped on another plane to Baltimore, where again, I changed planes. Finally, I boarded my flight to Providence at 10:25PM. By the time I made it to the Sheraton at Providence Airport, it was 12:05AM. For those of you who have not been counting, that’s FIVE flights in one day – with over 15 hours of combined flying or “airport appreciation time.”

Within 10 minutes of getting to my room, I set my iPhone alarm for 9:30AM, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and crawled into bed.


At some point in the middle of the night, I think I hear a tap on the door. Then I hear it again, more vigorously. I grumbled “WHAT?!?” and the tapping ended. I rolled over and the clock said 8:40AM. I realized the tapping had come from the housekeeping staff, wanting to clean my room. Since my alarm was still set for 9:30AM, I tried to go back to sleep. Complete failure. So I got up, made coffee and turned on the TV, which I watched in bed while I decided what action I should take. At 9:27AM, I fired off the following tweet at Sheraton’s accounts:

Only eight minutes later, Sheraton’s @StarwoodBuzz account replied:

I replied two minutes later with my e-mail address as well as my Starwood Preferred Guest account number. Six minutes after that at 9:43AM they replied once more: “Thank you. Just spoke to the director of housekeeping who will look into this matter with the housekeeping staff.” Simple, speedy resolution. I figured it was over at that point, and I was satisfied.

But wait, there’s more! At 9:50AM the phone rang. It was Olga, Director of Housekeeping, calling to apologize and offered me a free breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I replied that I appreciated the offer but I was in a bit of a rush to get over to the airport. She encouraged me to stop and pick up a coffee and muffin on my way out. Upon checking out, the Housekeeping Director was working the reception desk. She apologized once more when she recognized my name , and again encouraged me to partake of some free breakfast. I obliged and speed-walked down to the restaurant, where I got a couple of cinnamon rolls to take with me. As I was leaving, Olga mentioned that she had also credited my SPG account with some extra credit.

I’m not writing this to bring attention to the Sheraton Housekeeper’s error, but to the fact the Starwood Brand has an excellent grasp on social media. Let’s look at what they did RIGHT:

  • They replied quickly, with a promise to take corrective action.
  • They followed through on their promise, which was verified when the Housekeeping Manager called me.
  • They went above and beyond my expectations with the free breakfast offer and extra credits.

Every job I’ve had since a teenager has been in some form of customer service, either with money-paying customers, someone needing help, or internal customers within a corporation. Organizations that understand the value of excellent customer service know that customers are fickle, and can spend their money elsewhere. Thus, it is imperative to maintain, and repair if necessary, the goodwill of their customers. Starwood continues to have my good will, as a result of this perfectly-handled occurrence.



9 thoughts on “A Hotel Experience: From Agony to Ecstasy in Under 30 Minutes via Social Media

  1. Natalie T. (@nearafar)

    This is a great case study and I’m glad that companies like Sheraton are embracing social media to deal with customer service issues. At the same time, social media and bad publicity is forcing companies to deal with it. P.S. five filghts in one day? This is madness!

    Reply
  2. Ayngelina

    I have had a few run-ins with airlines and online booking services and the key here is immediacy

    I won’t name the offender but when I had a question about booking a flight it took them 48 hours to reply to the tweet and told me that I should have called – ummm perhaps they should not have a twitter account?

    However, I had a great experience with WestJet after they lost my baggage in Mexico and I was trapped in customs with very poor Spanish, not knowing if my bag would actually arrive. Within the hour they messaged back with details on my bag and when it would arrive.

    I now fly WestJet whenever I can, if only they flew to more international destinations.

    Reply
  3. jenn seeley (@jenn_seeley)

    Superb example of a great response to your aggravation. I especially appreciated, Paul, that you identified that you were not looking to bring down the housekeeper or the hotel, but rather wanted to bring light to an example of how social media can be the speedy bridge between a customer and exemplary customer service. Hope you don’t mind, but I plan to share this one lots!

    Jenn Seeley
    Community Engagement – Radian6

    Reply
  4. William DeRosa

    FAIL to the blogger who wrote this about social media, and didn’t have a twitter share button so I could tweet it out to everyone ;-)

    Just kidding, great post about the importance of social media. We are a social media marketing agency, so we try and teach clients the ways to mitigate things in the cyberworld like this. Thanks for sharing (just wish I could share it easier!)

    Bill

    Reply
  5. Jen Pollack Bianco (@lax2nrt)

    Paul, I referenced this case study again this week when I was talking about the subject of how to properly go about using social media for customer service. It remains the most identifiable flow chart of engagement and appropriate response. I also point out that you (obviously) were savvy enough to use the appropriate hashtags so your complaint reached the appropriate people.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Sheraton TriBeCa Review | My Life's a Trip

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