I made reservations for two rooms at the Sheraton Indianapolis for Saturday, November 3rd, 2012. As the Indianapolis marathon and a Colts game were happening over the week, I made reservations in September to make sure we wouldn't have trouble finding a place to stay. I made these reservations through Southwest Airlines, as they had a special with the hotel that guaranteed bonus points for the stay. With confirmation number in hand, we drove from Chicago to Indianapolis looking forward to getting checked in the hotel quickly so we could watch the football game that afternoon.
When we arrived at the hotel, there were no bellhops outside. In fact, there was no one from the hotel to be seen anywhere. Cars were all over the place with flashers on and spilling out of the holding lane in front of the hotel - not a good sign. My girlfriend had to run into the hotel to find someone to ask if we could safely leave the car out front to check-in. They said we should leave our car outside while checking in so we could receive a hotel-specific parking ticket, so we put on our flashers on as and went inside.
Once there, I gave my last name and the confirmation number we received when booking the hotel. The girl at the front desk looked puzzled and could not find the reservation. Somehow, between the reservation system at Southwest and the hotel itself the entry had never made it into their system. Perplexed, she went into the back to talk to a manager for a few minutes. She came back and told us that the hotel was full, but that they would be happy to get us a hotel room at another downtown hotel and were truly sorry for the mixup. We understand that mistakes happen, so we told her it was fine and that we would wait for a few minutes while she figure out arrangements. She went back to talk to a manager yet again.
This is when things starting going downhill. After about fifteen minutes, the front desk agent returned, and started assisting other customers rather than acknowledging us while we waited at the front desk waiting to be told what was going on. When we finally got her attention and were able to ask what was going on and her response was completely different than what we had heard before- rather than saying "we'll find you another hotel", the response became "it's not our fault the reservation didn't go through, sorry. We're not going to help you find another hotel".
I called Southwest at this point to get more information from their side - it turns out this hotel's system is completely non-automated. Online booking agencies like Southwest, Hotels.com or Expedia actually send a fax to the Sheraton where someone has to manually key in the reservation. Apparently their data entry clerk could not possibly make a mistake, so we were just out of luck. I asked if we were going to get our money back as I had already paid for both rooms in full. I also asked about the Sheraton covering the difference for a similar hotel. The front desk agent said no, since it was not the hotel's fault and they wouldn't be helping us in any way. She then turned and went back to helping other customers.
Feeling very frustrated, we finally asked to speak to a manager. A manager named Nick finally came over to talk to us after spending several minutes staring off into space and pretending to be busy on his computer. Rather condescendingly, he told us it was our fault that we did not have a reservation. I asked if they were still even looking for another hotel for us, and he scoffed - his actual words were "Why would I look for a hotel for you?" (emphasis on the "you" as if we were some homeless people attempting to stay in his fine establishment). Rather than escalate the situation, I hit the phones. No need to lower myself to a person like that. Terrible, awful, no good, very horrible customer service.
When a hotel treats a customer like this, you know it rolls downhill. The management at this hotel does not care about customer service; they don't even bother having anyone outside the front door to greet customers and answer their questions. I can only imagine the quality of the rooms with such rude and disinterested management. If Nick worked at my company and treated customers like that he wouldn't last long. I can't believe someone with such horrible people skills is put in a management position.
Lucky for us, the Hyatt in Indianapolis had rooms available. When we called to book rooms, they went above and beyond to apologize for the horrible service we had received at their competitors' hotel. They were very accommodating with our last minute request for two rooms. When we got to the hotel and we were instantly greeted by a team of valets, were welcomed to the hotel, were checked in within minutes, and had a wonderful time.
Moral of the story, don't stay at the Sheraton in Indianapolis. After my experience, I will never stay at a Sheraton again. If for some reason you absolutely have to stay there, do NOT make an online reservation. Their 90s-era "fax and enter" system has no accountability and the front of house staff will treat you horribly. Just avoid the headache and stay elsewhere. I'll be sharing the same information with the various online travel sites to hopefully get this hotel removed until they can fix their back of house processes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel offers a warm welcome in the heart of beautiful downtown Indianapolis. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Sheraton Indianapolis
- Indianapolis Sheraton