A boomerang business trip brought me to San Jose California last week to talk to a very cool company about some very interesting projects. I was in town overnight, so they put me up at the Hotel Sierra. Very swanky, in a vodka-advertisement-aimed-at-young-adults kind of way. Not my thing, but the room was very nice and a night away from home offered me the exceptional pleasure of being able to sleep without a cat trying to climb backwards up my left nostril.
I have only one complaint…
The hotel advertises a shuttle service. That’s great, because it’s difficult to get around Silicon Valley if you’re not local, don’t have a car, and your destination is not accessible via light rail. I called the night before my planned arrival.
“Sorry sir, the shuttle is booked all day tomorrow. You will have to get a cab.”
Strike one. A service is not a service if it’s not an available service. I caught a cab from the airport and went straight to my meeting. I was given a lift to the hotel at the end of the day. I checked in, and went to my room. Again, nice room.
I had a follow-up meeting the next day and it occurred to me that I would need to catch the shuttle to get back there. I called the front desk.
“Sorry sir, the shuttle is booked at that time tomorrow. We can call a cab for you.”
I asked them where the shuttle was going. To the airport. Okay, but where I am going is on the way to the airport. Couldn’t they just drop me off?
“Ahh… yes sir. I think we can do that if you catch the 9am shuttle to the airport.”
Done. I arrived downstairs early, had a lovely free breakfast, and caught the shuttle. The shuttle driver was friendly and helpful and charming, but I was the only person in the van. No pile of people worrying about making their flights.
Strike two. Not the driver’s fault. The front-desk staff was clearly confused.
The shuttle driver said that if I called the hotel, she would be very happy to come pick me up and take me on to the airport to catch my flight home. I relayed that information to the receptionist who called the hotel for me.
“Sorry ma’am, the shuttle is booked at that time. Can you call a cab?”
I was sent back to the airport in a limo. When I arrived, I stood outside for a few minutes before entering the airport. It was a warm, sunny day and… I’ll explain why I was standing outside later. As I stood there though, the hotel shuttle came driving by. The driver even slowed down to wave at me.
Memo to Hotel Sierra: Strike three. Promote your shuttle driver to hotel manager. At least we know that she understands customer service.