Expect what you pay for …
You don’t order a small saloon car from a car dealer and then demand, when you collect it, that he gives you a luxury 4×4 station wagon instead.
You expect only what you ordered and paid for. You understand that, if you get it, you are not in a position to complain. The same applies to hotel rooms.
The danger of some accommodation booking websites is that they cut out the direct contact between hotel and client, which makes it all the more important to read the small print and, let’s face it, the large print as well.
A Christmas client had booked my hotel through a major international booking website, but when he checked in, he complained.
“What made you think,” I asked him, “when you booked a room clearly described on the website as being ‘without air-conditioning’, that it would have air-conditioning? Wasn’t it obvious from the description that it wouldn’t?”
In these days of Instant Internet Vengeance hoteliers are permanently on the back foot. Did you know, for example, that if you type ‘disgusting horrible’ into a Google search, a whole lot of TripAdvisor reviews pop up on the first results page? Try it.
I have had my say about TripAdvisor, but it has led to a new breed of client that books one thing and demands something else, whilst wielding the threat of bad reviews.
Hoteliers want happy guests – obviously – and if I didn’t think, at the given price, that I was providing a reasonable service, I would do something about it. I don’t have air-conditioning at home. I have a ceiling fan which I rarely use; I sleep with the windows open. I am cool and I don’t wake up covered in insects. Millions of us live in the hotter parts of South Africa and millions of us cope without air-conditioning. First world problems, I believe they call it.
However, for those that want it, we have rooms with air-conditioning. They cost more.
He wasn’t prepared to pay more, he said. He would slather our poor service all over the Internet, he said. So I asked him to leave – right of admission reserved – and refunded his deposit in full. It was Christmas Eve. I hope he found room at some other inn.
Pay for the minimum you will be happy with and be pleasantly surprised if you are offered more. Most hoteliers upgrade if they can. But don’t pay for less than you are prepared to tolerate and then complain that you didn’t get what you wanted.
After all, if you take your saloon car on a 4×4 route, it’s not going to cope. And you’re not going to be able to blame the manufacturer.