Great stay at the InterContinental San Francisco, except for one gripe

I really love the InterContinental San Francisco, especially as a Royal Ambassador. The hotel is reasonably priced, has exceptional employees overall, and tends to treat Royal Ambassadors particularly well. I’ll post a more thorough review when I get back home next week.

There is one thing that really bugged me upon check-in just a couple of hours ago, though. As I entered the hotel I went towards the Ambassador check-in desk, which was unmanned. I asked someone at the concierge desk, which is located right next to it, whether there was anyone manning the Ambassador desk. The response from this gentleman was appalling: “You’re an Ambassador?”

I responded “I’m actually a Royal Ambassador,” and all of a sudden he couldn’t have been nicer. He addressed me by name, asked me to take a seat, etc. Nonetheless, the way he phrased that question left me annoyed. In all fairness I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and I’m probably among the youngest Royal Ambassadors out there, but that doesn’t make me any less likely to be an Ambassador (or Royal Ambassador) than anyone else. What disgusts me the most about this is that anyone can join the Ambassador program for $150. I guess he just thought I wasn’t worthy.

Am I off base?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Nope.

    You should have requested another employee to check you in, perhaps one with a greater experience in customer service or something, haha.

  2. Given the likely age distribution of Ambassadors, yes, someone your age is less likely to be an ambassador. Not a valid reason for the question… But is it really worth a blog post?

  3. @oliver-What is the age requirement to buy Royal Ambassador @ $150? As long as its at least 18 & above,then u don’t need to question/judge me on whether/not I fit the profile of a RA. Lucky might have been wanting to aquire about how to become an RA. Me personal, I would have asked if he actually works there!

  4. You’re not off base – it happens all the time. People judge you by looks.

    I had a very similar experience with United at LHR.

    I was flying C and was waiting near the gate to board. Bear in mind I had jeans and a t-shirt on.

    The agent came out and started “pushing” people away, clearing space, saying we need this space for first and business class passengers.

    I stayed put after a minute boarded and the look of her face when she seen I had a C ticket was priceless.

    The thing I like about these things is how stupid they look after they find out the truth.

  5. 🙁

    I wish I had known you were going to be at IC SF; would’ve sent an email… which doesn’t have anything to do with your unfortunate experience.

  6. I don’t think it was that bad of a comment on their part. They likely get a lot of bozos that try to check-in at the Ambassador desk that don’t belong. And if you’re in a t-shirt and jeans and look like a college kid, 99% of the time they’re going to be right in questioning who you are.

  7. On the contrary, you indeed are less likely than anyone else to be a Royal Ambassador, given your age (specifically). In fact, if your demo represents < 1% of all Royals, you individually are extremely unlikely to be a Royal.

    However, no excuse for the service person to make assumptions.

    Oops..I see Scholar said almost the exact same thing (but leading to a different conclusion). I come for a service background, so such a thing is appalling to me (what the clerk did).

  8. I don’t take issue with the fact that I was asked (although I don’t think it was necessary), but rather how I was asked, in a condescending, rude tone. The way he said the word “you’re” just inferred I wasn’t worth to be at that hotel. Sure, I don’t fit the profile, but do you think the average traveler knows what Ambassador is? Would the average non-Ambassador walk into the hotel straight to the Ambassador desk, not see anyone there, and then ask if there’s someone working the Ambassador desk? It’s not like I was walking around the lobby looking for the desk, then saw the sign, etc.

  9. Actually, some guy with 5 pounds of bling and baggy pants had just come up to the guy 2 minutes before you did and said “Nobody dun told me I needed an ID to stay in da Penthouse Suite!”

  10. I actually get kind of a kick by not looking like a typical businessman. As a photographer in advertising I’m supposed to look a little different from your typical fiftyish spreadsheet guy. Lately I’ve become a fan of John Varvatos clothes, and when I wear them I look like a faded rock star. No one has said anything yet; it’s fun to look different and FAs sense that I’m not a stuffy old geezer…..

    I think the concierge guy mostly used poor phrasing. There’s gotta be a polite way to ask if you’re a Royal Ambassabor without it sounding like a putdown.

  11. Nobody can argue about whether or not this incident made you feel the way you did. With that being said, does it make good business sense for IC to say things that make one of their Royal Ambassadors feel that they weren’t treated well? No. It’s stupid. I think it was fine for the employee to have questions in his mind about who you were, but it was unprofessional of him to cop an attitude. He could have questioned you more politely. My company enforces that we acknowledge our prejudices so that we can pre-emptively “set them aside” and treat ALL of our customers as individuals and according to their own situations.

    A better way he could have handled it would maybe be to simply say “We are always happy to warmly welcome our ambassador and royal ambassador members. May I see your card, please?”

  12. Is the Ambassador desk ever staffed? Upon my arrival there was no one there and i proceeded to the main check-in desk. Do they expect you to go and sit and wait for them to notice and rush over? That should be your “only” complain though – right?

  13. The last time I stayed at this hotel it was staffed, but I’m guessing that they’re doing so less and less since RA’s check in at the club lounge anyway.

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