I originally posted about the Westin Sydney after spending Christmas and Boxing Day at the hotel. I fell madly in love with the Westin and swore I would find a way to get back.
Well, it turned out that about 3 weeks later I was able to return. I was checked into a similar, upgraded room, with a more spectacular view, and all of the amenities I love about the Westin. I was going to be in the hotel for 2 weeks as a guest and looked forward to it.
I ran into a few issues during this visit, but didn’t complain until I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided not to do my usual – tweet to Starwood – and instead email the GM and Starwood customer care to see how they would respond. When I tweet, the social media team is amazing with response time and resolution.
I emailed my complaint on a public holiday in Australia and the GM was out. But his director of rooms called me in the hotel and asked to meet me. I was happy to sit with her and talk about my experience, what went wrong and how I could prevent it from happening again. It turns out that the meeting was as informative for me as it was for her.
Over coffee in the hotel lobby, we chatted about the incidents (yes, there were a few), she admitted to gaps in processes somewhere along the line and never made me feel like they were “my” issues, and then we started talking about Starwood, and Westin, and why I am loyal. It ended up being a great meeting.
For example, I learned about a hotel policy put into place after the Mumbai bombings to protect hotels and guests. If a guest puts the do not disturb sign on the door for a certain period of time, the hotel will enter the room to ensure safety. Makes sense to me now. I also learned that the Westin Sydney had undergone massive technology investments so that the whole hotel will offer WiFi this spring.
The director of rooms was very gracious and generous and offered me points to compensate for the issues I had encountered. It was lovey and appreciated. However, she even went a step further. She asked where I was going next. I told her and she said she had some contacts there and would let them know I was coming. I didn’t expect anything out of that, but said thank you. It turns out, she did alert the Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok that I was arriving and they took care of me. Thanks to the Westin Sydney’s director of rooms, I was treated as a VIP at the Westin in Bangkok.
So, why am I posting this over a month and 1/2 after the original issues occurred? Because, I had an experience at another hotel (not a Starwood Property) and the situation was handled in a completely opposite manner. No “sorry”, no points, no chat, nothing. The front desk clerk just said sometimes these things happen, and we can’t fix it. I think there’s always a way to fix things – you just have to be creative. Hotels should learn from how the Westin Sydney handled themselves.
When I’m back in Sydney (and I will be) I will do everything in my power to stay at the Westin (I hope their rates don’t skyrocket this year) and hope to have another cup of coffee with the director of rooms.