Thursday, September 27, 2012

Super 8 Update (poet and know it)

Super Eight Logo
After my September 4 post about my unhappy Super 8 stay (Whaaaa!), a few of you  encouraged me (YAY, and thank you!) to report the incident. So I sent a short note to Super 8 Customer Care via The Form that pops up under Super 8's "Feedback on my hotelstay". In it, I included a link to my blog post account of the gnarly details.

Within a day or two, I received a nice response email from Julie, an Internet Specialist with the Wyndham Hotel Group. Super 8 is now under their umbrella.  In case you're not aware how many other brands fall under that umbrella, and at which you could be earning Wyndham Rewards, check the bottom of that page. You might be surprised at the size of this alliance which includes Microtel, Ramada and Days Inn. [You will also find call-out boxes on the Super 8 home page: HEY STOCK CAR FANS. HEY RODEO FANS. Of course this got my attention because I do believe it was greasy stock car driver fingerprints that graced my keycard holder upon check-in. :)]

Julie thanked me for contacting them, apologized for my dissatisfaction (good business) and said I would hear directly, by a named timeline, from the hotel's manager to "assist" me "in reaching a resolution".

The response deadline date, also my 43rd wedding anniversary, came and went with nary a word from Super 8, but I did enjoy a wonderful breakfast out (blackened catfish omlet!) with my honey. (He ordered two eggs over easy. That's the way we roll.) Either the response of the manager was lost in the cosmos (always possible) or he didn't get to it. Oh, well, after that kind of stay, that's pretty much what I expected.

However, Julie then contacted me via phone (surprise, and terrific business) to see if I'd heard from him. I told her no, but that I sure appreciated her followup. She said the matter would be handled in house. She wanted to know what I expected by way of resolution.

Whoa! What an excellent question, one I hadn't actually thought about--well, aside from the whining part. What did I want? 

Since my mouth is always quick to speak, even when I haven't thought about much of anything, I told her I'd never asked for a "resolution". I guess all I really wanted was for The Powers that Be to know about it. After all, via the comments on my blog, seasoned travelers had encouraged me to Give Peace a Chance. I told her I doubted I'd be back that rural Super 8 way anyway; the incident was over. But I wished to have my complaints acknowledged, and to hopefully help spare anyone else the same yuck treatment. I told her I'd originally put my experience out there in part just to ask others to share their GOOD Super 8 experiences with me, so that I didn't write off the whole brand over that one experience.

The next day I missed a call from the Super 8 manager, which I later returned. He said he'd tried to contact me previously too, within the timeline. Nothing on my phone logs validated that, but then again, technical glitches sometimes do happen. My default is one of "benefit of the doubt" when it comes to technology, so I set aside my skepticism.

He was extremely engaging and apologetic. He said he speaks with his workers all the time about first impressions and the importance of little things, which was the gist of my post.

He THANKED ME for the specific feedback and said if I ever came that way again, I should let him know before I arrived so he could make sure everything was fine. He was going to go over all my complaints again with his employees. He mentioned something about keycard cover changes. (In case you missed the original post, you won't believe what I was handed at check-in. I posted the disgusting pictures.)

His attitude was humble, his apology charming, he sounded sincere. We hung up and that was that.

The next day in an unrelated conversation, a friend of mine shared her recent terrible experience at a new restaurant in town. She said her turkey burger tasted like the entire thing had come to the restaurant frozen, then was heated in a microwave. Since she had to wait an hour to get her food (strikes one and two), and because she was starving, she ate the fries, which she said were good. She did not, however, take even a second bite of the turkey burger, it was that bad.

When the waitress came around to ask if everything was okay, my friend, encouraged by her tablemate, told the waitress exactly what I just told you about the turkey burger. The waitress asked if she wanted something else to replace it, to which my friend replied, "No thanks." She had to get back to work and she was already more than an hour in.

When the bill came, the waitress had deducted $3.00, presumably for the turkey burger portion of the turkey burger/fries basket combo, not even half the combo amount.(Did they discount the value for the bite she took?)

There are two ways to handle customer service: one gets a job done, the other breeds extreme good will, something that packs a much heartier come-back-again wallop than a "Sorry" or a few token bucks. Since it was a new restaurant in a small town and word-of-mouth spreads quickly, and this was my friend's first impression (again I refer to my initial Super 8 post), I believe her entire meal should have been comped. My response to her story was REALLY? That's just bad business.

Which got me to thinking, oh, boy. 

When Wyndham asked what I was looking for by way of resolution after my Super 8 stay, like I said, I responded that I just wanted to let them know. I hoped to help spare future travelers the same horrid experience. My benefit-of-the-doubt self imagines that complaints will be taken seriously and corrective measures taken. And again, the Super 8 manager was friendly, humble, apologetic, thankful and sounded sincere. When I hung up, I felt satisfied because I'd received what I asked for. (Pollyanna here believes nobody else will ever have this problem again.) I was impressed with Wyhdham's speedy response and in particular, their follow through, especially since I'm not a heavy hitting Wyndham Rewards' customer. 

But since then (here comes the thinking part, oh, boy), since hearing the story about my friend's restaurant yuck and considering my response to it, I've been thinking about good will--and money-back guarantees. There are hotel chains out there with such offers. I've always been a fan of Hampton Inns. I see in a simple Google search that their 100% satisfaction guaranteed offer is front and center, even though I've never had cause to try to call in that marker. I know what to expect from them, and it's almost always 100% positive.

Who knows: maybe Super 8 has such a guarantee too, although I don't see up-front evidence, nor did web prowling produce such a promise. But if they did offer such a thing, and I knew about it, and if/when someone asked me about "resolution," I could have just said, SHOW ME THE MONEY!

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