Sorry for the long post - I view writing as a diversion from stress..
Let me begin this tale with some background. I do travel a good deal for both work and family. In the old days I would have said work and pleasure, but traveling (the process of getting from one place to another) is rarely pleasurable. Now I am not a road warrior like some people I know. I travel about 30 to 60 days a year. I work for a big Company and my travels include both domestic and foreign locations.
Over the years I have acquired many travels lessons and stories. When it comes to hotels I have learned the value of sticking with one chain. Staying with one chain allows you to accumulate points quicker and achieve elite status levels quicker. Points and status bring you freebies - free breakfast, free internet, and eventually free nights.
Over the last several years I chose Marriott as my chain of choice. They seemed to have hotels near where I was visiting that were well priced and had the amenities that I wanted. I am based in Texas but have family in California and Massachusetts. My brother and my daughter have worked for Marriott hotels over the years. I always felt that the level of customer service was good at the Marriott hotels. Front desk personnel, maids, and kitchen and restaurant staff were quick with the hello, welcome back, and thank you. These are the basics of good customer service that I expect from a hotel. In general, travel is a stressful endeavor and I want to hear these nice words when I get to my hotel.
Now for the real story. There are times in your life when you need more than this level of service. My family has gone through a difficult few months. My dad passed in December after a battle with lung cancer. It was a difficult time for several months. Our oldest daughter was due in January with out first grand baby and we were looking forward to an exciting change in our lives. The cycle of life brings with it a roller coaster of emotions.
Since our daughter lives in California, we booked a short stay ( 5 nights ) at a local Marriott. We have stayed at this particular hotel several times over the past few years. It is close to our daughter's home and we like the hotel. Between my wife and I, and other family members, we have probably stayed 30 to 60 nights at this hotel. We are not difficult customers. We don't have a lot of special needs. Give us a clean room, and maybe some extra hangars (my wife is not a light packer) and we are happy. We order room service; we order the ridiculously expensive in room movies; we fit the ideal hotel customer profile.
As many parents know the birth of a child is chock full of risks - for both the child and the mom. In our case the birth went smoothly for both mom and child. Unfortunately our grand daughter quickly developed a number of issues. I won't go into details, but she was quickly admitted to the neonatal ICU. We had a rough time. On the hotel front, we explained our situation to the front desk and asked them to extend our stay 7 days. This is where the trouble started and this is where the customer service did not elevate to a higher level. The first response from the front desk clerk was that she could extend us 3 nights but could not guarantee anything beyond that time, since the hotel was fully booked. She agreed to keep our room at the same rate for these 3 nights. She also said that she would see what she could do about further extending our stay. I thought that this was fine.
The front desk clerk did call me later and said that she was able to extend me for 2 additional nights, but that since the hotel was filled she would have to increase my room rate about 50%. She said that this was a lower rate than the current booking rate and was the best she could do. I was not happy and I expressed this to her. We were on our way to the hospital and I was in no mood for a negotiation.
The following day I went down to the front desk and asked to speak with a manager. I explained the situation. I was stressed and in no mood for her lack of compassion. She reiterated what I had heard on the phone and then proceeded to lower the rate for my last 2 days by $20. Really..that is all she could do? She stated that she had a big conference coming to the hotel and the hotel was overbooked and there was nothing she could do. I told her to comp the parking for the stay to offset my increased costs for the last 2 days..no she explained, that is run by a 3rd party. I didn't care. I wanted something more than the " thanks for coming", "have a nice day". I was disappointed and angry. Where was the higher level of customer service? No delighting the customer! No "let me make this situation easier for you by doing something nice..."
Eventually she agreed to keep our room rate flat for the remaining 2 days. I told her that if should could not extend my stay, that I would appreciate it if she could check for other local Marriott's so that we would not be caught without a room. She said that she would keep checking to see if she could extend our stay and if not would look at other Marriott's in the area.
I checked back with her the next morning to see if anything had opened up. It had not. I asked her if she was able to book me a nearby hotel and she stated that she had checked a few hotels in the area and nothing was available. Now I knew this was not true. I had checked online earlier that morning and had found a room at the Marriott that she said she had checked. I popped open my iPad at the desk and booked the room at the hotel that she told me was full. She said that when she checked it, it was full. I told her how disappointed I was with the situation and left.
On the morning of checking out of the hotel, my wife received a call from the manager and was told that things had changed and we could stay in our room for the final 2 days of our stay and that the rate would stay the same. I am not sure what happened here. We got what we wanted, but somehow I still don't feel very satisfied.
There were other staffers at this Marriott that were great: The staff at the lobby bar that saw that I had been working for a few hours and brought me a nice glass of ice water without asking; the waiter at breakfast that was very efficient and still chatty (but not too much).
So back to my original questions, what is good hotel customer service and what is not? Maybe I am asking too much, but I am looking for more than the "hellos, welcome back (insert name here), let me help you with that". I want to be surprised. I want people to "really listen" to my situation and try to help me when I need it. Maybe I am asking for to much in this low cost, outsourced, high pressured world. Maybe I should try a Doubletree hotel, at least I will get a cookie!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for writing an honest review of the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley! Our apologies for the sub-standard experience you had staying at our hotel. We strive to provide the most brilliant service. Your story is a reminder that we need to rise above the basics of good customer service even more so during difficult situations like yours.We hope to continue to be your hotel of choice when visiting San Diego and welcome the opportunity to redeem ourselves in your eyes.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.