How A Hotel Marketing Manager Made My Day!

Not once in my life have I contacted a hotel in advance to let them know that I’ll be reviewing a stay, etc. And that just seems like common sense to me, though amazingly enough I read all the time about travel bloggers who do just that. It kind of eliminates the point of a review, if you ask me, but to each their own, I suppose.

So I’d like to think for the most part I get a pretty representative experience. And if you read my trip reports I think you’ll find that to mostly be true. I have plenty of upgrade failures, service snafus, etc. I’m not usually upgraded to a presidential suite with Krug and caviar as a welcome amenity (and when I say “usually” I mean “ever”).

That being said, one thing I can’t prevent a hotel from doing is Googling. Most true luxury hotels Google their guests in advance, which only makes sense.

For example, I recently stayed at a luxury non-US property (which I haven’t yet reviewed) where I had a rather awkward check-in experience. As I walked up to the front desk the guest relations manager came running forward and said “I was Googling you this morning, as I do for all the guests. You look exactly like your Twitter picture, Mr. Schlappig. Hold on, let me call the marketing manager so you can sit down and have a cup of coffee.” I had just come in off a longhaul flight, so sitting down and talking to someone is roughly the last thing I wanted to do.

But here’s a case where a hotel marketing manager deserves a lot of credit for putting a huge smile on my face. I stayed at the W San Diego last night, and had the following note waiting in my room:

W-San-Diego

I really can’t even begin to say how big of a smile this put on my face. It’s one thing for a hotel to Google you, though it’s another for them to spend five further minutes Googling and figuring out something funny about you. I certainly have never written about monsters, but I have written about my habit of checking underneath hotel beds and in closets when first getting to a room… because I’m weird like that.

So thanks, Christine, for being awesome at your job. Some hotels think the way to impress people is with suites and champagne (and that certainly doesn’t hurt). 😉 But actually taking a few minutes to make a guest smile is infinitely more valuable.

Comments

  1. Ben

    I had a neighbor who is the official food critic for the Chicago tribune. Not only does he use fake names, but he also shys away from any photo. He pretty much admits that he would be out of work if his photo got out. His entire ability to review is based on the restaurant not knowing what he looks like.

    I love your reviews, but the largest problem with other bloggers and to some extent your reviews here is that they know your coming and I would not be surprised if they have your record flagged across th system.

    Years ago you were going to do some flying with out using your status to see how your treated. I’m not sure if you ever ended up doing it.

    The real reviewers of a brand have to remain secret or the reviews would never be trusted.

  2. Lucky,
    You should read Ruth Reichl’s book Garlic and Sapphires. It is about her being a restaurant critic in New York where she was supposedly anonymous, but all of the top restaurants were actively on the lookout for her so they could provide the best possible service and get a good review all while maintaining the guise of anonymity. I think you are in a similar situation. I would bet that you sometimes are known to the hotel staff in advance and they treat you like royalty without letting on that they are doing anything different than other guests. For hotels where you have had great service, you should try to go back “anonymously” and see if you get the same treatment. Maybe have someone else book the room and then call the day of to add you as the additional guest and say you are showing up first.

  3. Brilliant! That would win me over instantly! I check under the bed, even at home, every night and, in hotels, one of the first points on the ‘routine’ is to check the closers. (Wonders if we’re from the same gene pool.) However, I never knew hotels tend to Google their guests. Given that no hotel has ever registered what I always ask for – really, what is the point of having loyalty cards/accounts with brands if they do not record what you insist on every stay (again, with me, there’s quite a precise list!) – or prepared any note to tap into me or my personality etc I can only conclude a Google search has yielded nothing or, worse still, I’m ordinary bordering dull!

  4. This is great. Googling is going the extra mile but as Sheena mentions above, at the very least hotel staff should have pertinent guest info on file. Feels lousy going to your regular hotel where you have loyalty status and being asked “is this your first time here?”

    I was at a restaurant in NYC that had recently changed locations. Hadn’t dined with them in over a year. When the host walked me to my table, she said “welcome back, Pavel. It’s been a while but what do you think of the new space?” I was impressed and it helped set the tone for a great meal. Added value is easier than ever for the service industry to offer with simple access to information like this.

  5. Oh, Ben. How did you fall for that? It’s oldest trick in the book for any self-respecting monster. It’s a particular problem at W properties as they blend into the electic mix of guests.

  6. And with that, Travel4b wins my Best Post of the Day prize. No contest.

    I meant to say something yesterday, but Owen’s comment about the interesting-looking “niece” was brilliant as well. It’s to “The Downside of Making Friends” post and is worth a look. It reminded me of that time, so many years ago, when I got caught overnight at ATL and had to say at something called the Howard Johnson Airport East. Delta paid but, my oh my, was that interesting. In the elevator. At 2:00 a.m.

  7. I don’t know. Christine might work for “them” and actually placed monsters in your closet and under your bed. I would be extra careful. 😉

  8. Regardless of whether they googled you or not, I think that note is hilarious! I love people with a sense of humor!

  9. I’m pretty much creeped out by this that hotels could be googling about me. ……..and the dude that got excited when he saw you sounds #unprofessional. I guess his job is pretty boring to get that excited!

  10. I know you tend to stay at a lot of chains and there are upgrade and point earning implications, but have you ever considered going rogue and intentionally booking under a traveling companions name to see how it would go? If I recall didn’t you once have a plan to try to review some flights without elite status but the plan to request retro credit fell through during some irropps where you had to add your FF number.

  11. @Darren. HA HA HA! Thank you! That made me laugh as much as the original note from the hotel!

  12. Makes you wonder what note they’d write someone whose google search reveals them to be a porn star… “Glad you came our way”?

  13. *Brian said on July 2, 2015 at 11:46 am, “Clearly that’s a clever ruse written by the monster himself.”

    Thanks Brian, I laughed like a drain – very clever and funny wit.

    On Googling guests, I find that marginally creepy. Better to either ask or review interactions at the hotel (like, knowing from previous stays, you regularly order a Diet Coke and Lime), rather than stalk you online.

    Hmmm, I don’t think Lucky needs to tell a hotel or airline he’s reviewing them shortly (most of the bloggers doing this don’t have as well known a site as OMaaT, hence the calling card behaviour) for special treatment to be organised. Lucky’s real name is prominent across this site, and most PR teams would have him on their radar (they have his name, and it’ll be flagged). I agree with others here, you want typical experience, you have to operate under alias and refrain from publishing your image on your blog. That said, I think most people are aware that your reviews are not necessarily the experience others may have in full.

  14. The art of high hospitality is the same as the definition of good manners: behaviour that makes others feel comfortable. A hotel, wanting a good review from Ben, should:

    1. Google him
    2. Read much of what he’s written
    3. Pretend they didn’t.

    Welcome me, make me feel recognized as a valued patron but not as a celebrity. If they can convince me they don’t recognize me from my public fame, but they recognize me as special to them, it’s a success. The best example of that IME is Sofitel So Bangkok. Obviously the unlimited, all you can eat green tea eclairs and the inexcusably attractive staff clad in silk designed by Christian Lacroix were an effective enhancement to the experience.

    Lucky’s blog is not Fodor’s. I don’t expect him to describe the zero-status traveller’s experience. If I want that, I’ll buy a Lonely Planet Guidebook. Lucky’s reviews describe things I can aspire to. If I’m willing to earn the privileges, I can have the experience described in Lucky’s blog. No economy reviews please, Ben.

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