I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to traveling. I have certain rules for just about everything I do but even moreso when it comes to booking anything travel related. My one golden rule? I never book the hotel until I’ve landed at my destination. Seems strange to most people but with so many last minute booking services, I often just book while taxiing from the runway to the gate. Also, if you book a non-refundable room and then have to cancel, you’re out that money. Not the end of the world but it is frustrating–especially when you don’t make it to a destination due to circumstances outside of your control.
Earlier this week I wrote about how my flight from Chicago to Tampa was cancelled. That’s ok, travel is often chaotic and cancellations and delays happen everyday. However, due to time constraints, it didn’t make any sense in waiting for the next plane that afternoon . I ended up scrapping the whole mini-trip last minute and for the most part it worked out great. I was able to cancel restaurant reservations on OpenTable right away and I was able to cancel my rental car with National right away.
Know what I couldn’t cancel? My hotel reservation at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort–Which by booking beforehand was going against my biggest travel rule. I immediately tweeted @SPG and as usual they were of help right away by passing my information along to the hotel manager and saying that he would contact me this week.
It’s Friday and I haven’t received a call.
Part of me didn’t expect a call at all but since it was SPG I had high hopes as their customer service is one of the best in the travel industry. It’s one reason I book with them more than anyone else. I can understand that the hotel room was non refundable but if you make a point to tell a customer that you will reach out to them to discuss something, it would be great to actually follow up on that. SPG is the first hotel in 3 years that hasn’t contacted me after a missed hotel stay to offer a full refund or at least a credit towards a future stay. I guess most companies realize that the person that missed the flight will be back eventually – and by contacting them and talking with them they know they’ll eventually get their business. Or you could keep the room rate and not contact that person. That option certainly does less for the long term though. What incentive do I have to stay there in the future?
I wrote recently about hotel loyalty and maybe if I had elite status I would have been contacted. That gets back to my original point though – Is it worth it to pay a premium for added incentives? If a hotel only gives great service to “top” members then is it a hotel worth doing business with at all?
Time to chalk this up to “live and learn”. It’s often a common theme when traveling. Especially with anything non-refundable.