We were here to work a full-day meeting for 300 in the hotel's ballroom. Unfortunately, our meeting planners scheduled the meeting for the Friday of what's called race weekend here. Our planners had no idea, and were not informed of this when they booked the meeting.
I call this a lack of anticipatory thinking. It seems only reasonable and professional for a hotel sales team to inform out-of-town meeting planners of major local events going on at the same time as their proposed event ... especially something as big as race weekend turned out to be.
Anyway, when our travel agent tried to schedule us a sleeping room for the night before, she was told the hotel was sold out [another consequence of no anticipatory thinking by hotel staff]. The nearest available room was 40 miles away ... a long drive if you have to be on-site by 7 a.m. So I contacted the hotel and finally got a room -- for $285 -- after identifying myself as a platinum member of HI's Priority Club and pointing out that we were bringing 300 people in for a conference.
I was shocked and dismayed at the rate, but I understand supply and demand.
Then the little things started adding up. At check-in, we asked if breakfast was included with the room [it often is for Priority Club members]. Not at this HI, even at $285 a night! Correction: the total was $325.66 with taxes!!
Next, we were given a room far, far from the meeting room, so we asked about a cart to haul our luggage and half a dozen heavy boxes. Sorry, the race people had all the carts in use.
The room numbering system is really whacky -- maybe the oddest I've seen -- so it took several minutes of schlepping luggage down the halls to find our room.
The room was really warm; the thermostat read 84. When I pulled back the drapes to turn off the old heater, I found a dead stink bug on top of the heater. That set my partner to worrying about other bugs, especially in the bed [he found none].
We had a king room. The bed was hard, the sheets tired, and the pillows lumpy and uncomfortable. It was a particularly sad contrast compared with the wonderful bed we'd slept in the night before at the Knoxville Marriott [which, btw, cost half what we paid for this room!!].
The next morning, we learned that the hotel had booked another meeting across the hall from ours, with 150 attendees. That totaled 450 people, mostly women. Heads up: there were 3 stalls in the banquet area ladies' room and 2 more in a bathroom at the other end of the hotel. 400+ women, 5 stalls, and 15-minute breaks. Do the math.
The computer system in the business office was archaic. The internet connection was extremely slow and the system wouldn't download the sign-in documents we needed to print ... which, I guess, was okay because the printer connection wasn't working either. My partner finally had to email the information to the hotel office and have the documents printed out at the front desk ... by a printer that was running out of ink and provided only partial images of names on the sign-in sheets.
To their credit, the two women who worked the meetings [Penny and Sis] worked hard and were friendly and helpful.
The morning front desk person was one of the few anticipatory thinkers I met. When I stopped there before the meeting, she offered to recode my room key since it expired at noon and we had requested a late check-out. I appreciated her offer.
On the other hand ... I went there to show the bug I'd found in our room to Jill, the sales director who guaranteed me the room. The woman at the front desk told me Jill wasn't in ... and then I realized I was talking with Nicole, the on-duty manager. So I showed her the bug. "Oh," she said, "a stink bug." She told me she'd let Jill know about it. No "I'm sorry" or "Oh dear" or any acknowledgement that dead bugs are not a pleasant thing to find in a sleeping room.
I had already decided to tell our meeting planners not to book any future meetings at this hotel. I just wanted to get through the day and get out of town. So I left the bug with Nicole, worked the meeting, and got out of Dodge.
If you just need a sleeping room, here's the short story: this a below-average Holiday Inn in terms of comfort and service. And, obviously, if there's a big race going on, chance are you'll pay royally for it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Holiday Inn Conference Center:·Located just minutes from Science Hill High school, ETSU,and Milligan ·College, Wing Deer Park·Nearby Cinemas, Shopping & Dining·Full Service with Restaurant, Lounge & Room Service·Interior Corridor Rooms with free WiFi·Pet Friendly. Please contact us to see about our special room rates for your group, convention or business. We look forward to hearing from you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn Johnson City Hotel Johnson City
- Johnson City Holiday Inn