You think you are building a relationship with a brand, made a few visits to hotels in their chain, are totally satisfied then bang you encounter customer service at its absolute worse, and the relationship is dead in the water. The absolute worse customer service for me personally is when staff are prepared to twist the truth rather than admit they are wrong.
When you book through a third party or experience website, pinning down the problem and the blame becomes really tricky.
In February we decided to book a package through Experience days for a Luxury (and I say that in the loosest sense of the word) spa.
The Esprit Spa was in the Holiday Inn Reading having always been satisfied with the brand we were looking forward to a Saturday night break with a 3 course meal, and a morning in the spa. The problems began immediately, I found the voucher process confusing, but to be fair I am a bit of a dinosaur so maybe its not really that confusing. However as we wanted 3 rooms for 6 people I had to ring the hotel to book myself, this is where the real hassle began.
- As instructed I rang the hotel to check availability, who refused to even check availability on our flexible dates until I spoke to the spa.
- Rang spa but couldn’t actually book until I spoke to the hotel again.
- Spoke to hotel confirmed availability, made a provisional booking, the said a 45 min treatment was included and sent across a brochure for us to choose treatments to pre book.
- Back to spa to confirm dates
- Back to hotel to actually book. But the “only” person who could deal with this was busy so i was promised a return call.
- Many emails were exchanged to confirm the vouchers.
These calls took up a whole morning and the man didn’t ring me back so spent all afternoon waiting, eventually had to ring them back, if it had just been me booking I would have given up then, but getting available dates from 5 other people is difficult so I continued.
- got back to spa with treatments, they inform me its actually 25 min treatment
- back to friends choose treatment
- back to spa, “sorry we double booked can now only fir you in on the Sunday from 4pm on. So we would have to wait around a hotel we had checked out of for 4 hours before our treatment and arrive home really late on the Sunday.
- Spa finally agreed as it was their fault we could change the date.
- Complete all steps in Round 1, which was worse this time as people had already booked time off work, the hotel was pretty accommodating as it was the spas fault, eventually we booked the week later, minus one person who had no time off left in work.
Break already pretty ruined 🙁 An issue with other peoples work and a pretty personal serious problem for another caused me to ring the hotel to try and change the date again. Wow what a change in attitude to when the spa caused us to change, there was absolutely no way we could change anything, I fully explained the circumstances and asked as a gesture of good will could they just hold the booking in the system for a different date, or credit my IHG account, until we could fully assess the situation, as we were in this mess because of the spa, and how good the brand usually are I thought maybe he would help. The man was so abrupt, by this time with all the problems encountered with the hotel and personally I just couldn’t be bothered to fight over it so just resigned myself to the fact we would lose the £450. This hotel was fully booked and it was 4 weeks before the booking, there was no real reason for him to be so stubborn, I understand procedure but:
A. They were happy enough to change the booking when the spa caused the problems;
B. To build a solid relationship with customers you sometimes need to find a way around procedures, a gesture of goodwill is the best way to ensure customer retention,
Customer service and PR were obviously an alien concept to this man.
Over the weeks leading up to the break we decided 4 of us would use 2 of the rooms as £450 was alot of money to just throw away. We assumed things couldn’t get worse, boy was i wrong.