Impressive Hotel Service Recovery

I have fairly low service expectations in the UAE in general. I realize most “labor” is imported, and often working conditions aren’t good, so I’m more forgiving than I’d be elsewhere.

Last night I wrote about my baffling experience at the Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, where we got a “happy anniversary” cake. I actually thought there were psychic because it did just happen to be our anniversary, but it seems that wasn’t the case.

Anniversary-Cake

Instead the consensus seems to be that the “happy anniversary” cake was offered because I was using my Chase Hyatt Visa Card anniversary free night certificate. That doesn’t really make sense given that you can use it any time over the course of the year, so there’s no correlation between using the certificate and your card anniversary date. But it was certainly a nice touch and showed some attention to detail, which impressed me.

Well, that was only the second most baffling aspect of this stay.

Around 2AM we decided to order room service breakfast, since we were severely jetlagged. Ford wanted poached eggs, while I wanted the omelet on the menu, which was described as follows (it was the only omelet on the menu):

OMELETTE Cheese, Tomato, Mushrooms, Salmon and Scallions

So I phoned up room service to place our order.

“I’d like two poached eggs with chicken sausage as a side, and then the omelet with cheese, tomato, mushrooms, salmon, and scallions. I’d also like a large pot of coffee for two people, please.”

He read back the order: “Two orders of poached eggs with chicken sausage and salmon and one pot of coffee.”

“No, sorry, let me repeat. One order of poached eggs, and one omelet, which comes with cheese, tomato, mushrooms, salmon, and scallions. Also a large pot of coffee for two.”

“The poached egg comes in orders of two. So you want two?”

“Right, one order of poached eggs, which comes with two poached eggs.”

At this point I figured we were on the same page, given the repetition.

The room service order took a while, almost 40 minutes. Eventually the order showed up, which consisted of two orders of poached eggs and no omelet. Grrr! On top of that, the large pot of coffee I ordered for two people was enough to fill two cups about two thirds of the way. So it didn’t even consist of a full cup of coffee for both of us.

I pointed out the issue with the poached eggs to the room service attendant, and explained I had ordered an omelet. I even pointed to the omelet I had tried to order on the menu. The nice guy apologized profusely and returned 10 minutes later… with an omelet which had nothing in it. That’s certainly not the omelet I ordered originally, and also not the one I pointed to on the menu after the mistake had been made.

Room-Service-Breakfast

Whatever, it wasn’t a huge deal. I tried to charge the order to my room, but was told I had no “credit” on my room, and would need to pay by cash or credit card. Huh?! I had given a credit card at check-in for incidentals, so I found that puzzling. I decided just to pay cash and take this up with the front desk.

It’s not often I complain to hotels, but between being sent the wrong order twice, my “large pot of coffee for two” consisting of not even one and a half cups, and not being able to charge my order to the room, I phoned the front desk and asked for the manager on duty.

As it turned out the guy who had answered the phone was the manager on duty. He was extremely professional and apologized profusely. He couldn’t have been more understanding, and said “I’m so sorry, it’s especially terrible this happened at 2:30AM. Let me investigate please.”

We checked out at 6AM and were greeted by the manager on duty, Abhishek, who apologized once again, and even had the cash waiting for me which I had paid for room service, as a refund. I explained I wasn’t looking for anything for free, but appreciated his professionalism. Furthermore, he said “there’s no excuse, but the guy who took your order admitted you had said it correctly and repeated yourself several times, but he just didn’t hear you correctly. The mistake was completely on our end.” I thought that was extremely professional, rather than trying to make an excuse for what happened.

On top of that I had asked whether there was anywhere we could get coffee (since we had an early flight), and he immediately offered us some from the cafe on the house, and even sent us on our way with some freshly baked croissants.

Bottom line

While I was amazed by the incompetence of the room service experience, what I take away from it is how professional the manager on duty was. A little bit of service recovery can quickly make up for just about any amount of frustration.

I guess the lesson I should learn here is to stop ordering room service in the middle of the night, because it rarely ends well

Comments

  1. This is why I almost never use room service unlike the movies it’s never worth it and very expensive. The manager had exactly the right attitude “I am sorry and here is how I will make it right” . Almost no one does this today and it’s always someone else’s fault.

  2. He would have been deported/disposed of anyway by someone else. Fact remains that such incompetence doesnt belong in a hotel of that calibre. The truth is that the supply manager will disappear for not ordering scallions. Scallions have a hefty duty in the emirates are frequently unavailable. They try to only order what they need, but this time they got caught. So they have to cover by giving a poor omelet performance. Oil price is cheap now, so be happy you got fresh eggs.

  3. To the commenters above… Why would you not complain about poor service? Sure the guy got in some trouble – like anyone should if they mess up… Just eating something like that up (pun intended) when paying through the nose to stay at a place like that is just silly.

    That being said, what’s so impressive about this “recovery”? If they screw up an order multiple times at a restaurant, comping that isn’t anything impressive, it’s just the right thing to do.

  4. It’s probably not politically correct, but my father-in-law once shared this with me, and I found it easily on the web, and I hope it gives you a chuckle, and I mean no disrespect by it whatsoever:
    Room Service: “Morny. Ruin sorbees.” Guest: “Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service.” RS: “Rye. Ruin sorbees. Morny! Jewish to odor sunteen??” G: “Uh, yes, I’d like some bacon and eggs.” RS: “Ow July den?” G: “What??” RS: “Ow July den – fry, boy, pooch?” G: “Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled, please.” RS: “Ow July dee baychem – crease?” G: “Crisp will be fine” RS: “Hokay. An San toes?” G: “What?” RS: “San toes. July San toes?” G: “I don’t think so” RS: “No? Judo one toes??” G: “I feel really bad about this, but I don’t know what ‘judo one toes’ means.” RS: “Toes! Toes! Why jew Don Juan toes? Ow bow singlish mopping we bother?” G: “English muffin!! I’ve got it! You were saying ‘Toast.’ Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine.” RS: “We bother?” G: “No, just put the bother on the side.” RS: “Wad?” G: “I mean butter – just put it on the side.” RS: “Copy?” G: “Sorry?” RS: “Copy…tea…mill?” G: “Yes. Coffee please, and that’s all.” RS: “One Minnie. Ass ruin torino fee, strangle ache, crease baychem, tossy singlish mopping we bother honey sigh, and copy….rye??” G: “Whatever you say.” RS: “Tendjewberrymud” G: “You’re welcome”

  5. @dima

    I would complain normally. I just wouldn’t in UAE because of the consequences and the crappy circumstances service workers find themselves in. I’m surprised Ben complained. What was probably just a language barrier issue can have serious results. Ben is either unaware (surprising for someone who travels so much) or didn’t care.

  6. There is no way anyone got deported or fired over this, don’t worry about it.

    Such snafus are normal here, always take it up with management staff (as you did) because they are usually fantastic and just as good as anywhere else.

    What type of room were you in? Is there a re-review of Capital Gate pending?

  7. I stayed at the same hotel twice this year, and during the first stay Abishek helped us out in an emergency situation. He did that in a very professional way. I sent a message to the GM afterwards to thank him for the staff being so helpfull. So I agree with you about his professionalism.

  8. Man I have loved this blog for years and your writing style is great but you’re losing me here. One of your recent posts says you could not nap on a lie flat seat because there was not proper bedding, on a domestic flight. Now this post about what is essentially a waiter getting an order wrong and the manager making it right. To be sure this happens hundreds of times a day but it is by no means post worthy. Your posts are really starting to sound disconnected from the real world and the tone the blog originally had.
    Maybe a volunteer trip somewhere to help the underprivileged and bring some perspective back? Please do not turn into a pompous guy like TPG.

  9. An upmaket hotel in Abu Dhabi arranged a driver to meet me at the airport. He was there, but spent 20 minutes with me in tow as we searched the airport for his car. he then could not fund the exit to the parking lot and I had to guide him out. He then prceeded a slow crawl up the road to the hotel. Had I just jumped in a cab (after an 12k mile journey) I would have been in the hotel an hour earlier.

  10. The cash thing has me puzzled. Of course you want to charge everything to the room to get your points as well. I stay in hotels over a hundred nights a year and have never had to pay cash for room service.

  11. Well at least they spelled omelette correctly 😛 (just kidding, I know your version is US English, it just stuck out next to their version!)

    I wouldn’t particularly applaud this service recovery, as others have said they totally mucked up the order in the middle of the night plus it took ages to arrive – to just get a refund and a couple of cups of coffee doesn’t seem that impressive.

  12. So if somebody constantly screws up I can’t say anything because of what might happen to him? What? If he cannot correctly do his job he shouldn’t have said job. Period. End of story.

  13. I’m sorry, are some of you guys really saying you should just accept whatever crap gets thrown your way in the UAE … because complaining will/might get some guy fired?

  14. To everyone who’s saying that you should be nice in the UAE, that’s bullshit. No matter how bad the conditions are, if you suck at your job, you should not have said job. Period.

  15. I’ve stayed at this hotel about a dozen times. Remember this guy (Abhishek), I don’t have any big service accident to get service recovery, but remember that he is professionally well-mannered, easily communicative and most of all, very prompt to resolve any petites issues. In fact, I find all front office manager level guys (also Mr. Asad Haroon) of this hotel quite professional and courteous. I am reasonably satisfied with this hotel but not totally comfortable here. Some of reasons are 1) swimming pool is painfully small, 2) standard king-bed room has different structure one another, and except 1-2 occasions, I find its structure weird/uncomfortable. As for a short layover, these day I slightly prefer Westin Abu Dhabi or Aloft Abu Dhabi (more fun & light-hearted spirit here in addition to good recognition of SPG Platinum too).

  16. Recently in the UAE and found the service better than I would have expected in the states.

    To your experience; you can be bad at your job, or of have a bad attitude, but not both. Applies to organizations too. Someone fucked up, the org did the best they could to fix it. I find it really hard to get mad at any corp culture that’s trying to fix it’s (inevitable) mistakes. So good one them, and you, for approaching it professionally.

  17. I feel sorry for anyone working in UAE as foreign workers! But guest should report these mistakes to the hotel so they could improve! Like their airlines from Middle East, it is all about look! There is no spirit! Once the money gone, what else left? I am wondering if someone else complaint, Abhishek would give cash refund!

  18. I like reading your blog but sometimes you can come across as a total snob. This is one of these times. Get over it and it is not worth a mention.

  19. dear ben,

    my apologies for not having replied earlier, i am currently away from the hotel with limited access to email.

    many thanks for staying with us as well as for your feed-back, much appreciated and always helpful how and where we can improve.

    having said that, i am thrilled to read of the non-bureaucratic and spontaneous action of our team, putting an anniversary cake in your room. even though the anniversary occasion might have been misinterpreted, it just shows the sincere gesture to you as a valuable customer, i hope you enjoyed the cake..

    it is with regret however that your room service order had been messed up, which should not have happened, yet we are in the service industry and yes, mistakes do happen. however i can safely confirm that the concerned employee will neither be dismissed nor deported, that’s not the way we operate. the contrary, we will learn from it and finding ways to be better.

    abishek, he did well indeed, he followed up the next morning and acted accordingly, expressing his concern.

    wishing you safe travels onwards, please let me know next time you are in town, it would be a pleasure to meeting you.

    regards

    stefan gaessler
    general manager
    hyatt capital gate
    abu dhabi

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