Has a hotel concierge ever laughed at you?

I’m sure hotel concierge love to laugh at the requests they get…but most of them have the sense not to laugh directly in front of your face.  I was stunned today when the concierge at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel laughed at me.  I assure you, he wasn’t laughing with me – he was laughing at me.

I approached the concierge desk to request directions to the starting location for a specific tour I wanted to take.  The person behind the desk suggested three other tours run by three tour companies I was not inquiring about.  I asked, nicely, multiple times if he could just give me directions to the location of the tour I wanted to take.  It was futile.  I finally asked, “Are you the concierge?”  He said he was not (turns out he’s a bellman) and informed me that the concierge would be back in 10 minutes.  Completely frustrated, I decided to wait.

When the concierge finally reappeared, I inquired again.  He too tried to steer me towards other tours.  The same tours the bellman tried to convince me to take.  So I began to wonder – do they make a commission off certain tours?   I already had a ticket and all I wanted was directions.  Why was this so difficult?  After going round and round, he finally told me where to go.

Before I left, I asked if he could tell me what bus went to the nearest tube stations.  He said, you don’t need to take a bus, it’s a 5 minute walk. I explained that on rainy days, I might like to take the bus to avoid getting wet.  This is where the laughing begins.  He said, “Don’t be lazy, just walk. We have umbrellas if you are afraid of getting wet.“  More laughter and a head shake.

The woman standing next to me said, “Honey, I’d complain to a manager if I were you.”  She was clearly a fellow tourist with a sweet southern accent.  I smiled and said, “I don’t need a manager, I have a blog.”  She laughed…she was laughing with me.

I have stayed in hundreds of hotels on 5 continents of the world.  This is truly the first time I’ve been laughed at by a concierge.  I don’t think my request for directions to a tour I wanted to take and information about a bus route was too much to ask for.

Every time I think I’m starting to like the Sheraton Park Lane hotel, I have an experience like this.  Hard to imagine what my opinion will be when I finally depart on March 23rd.  I have a feeling this stay is going to be like a roller coaster ride – good experience, bad experience, good experience and so forth….

12 Comments on "Has a hotel concierge ever laughed at you?"

  1. Wow! Some people aren’t cut out to be in customer service sounds like he is one of them.

  2. Steve Kalman | March 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

    Having a blog (megaphone) is nice and I’m sure it makes you feel better to let off some steam, but it does nothing to solve the problem.

    Talking to the manager (or at least forwarding a link to your blog post) can benefit him, the hotel, and all of us.

  3. I had a love-hate relationship with that hotel as well after staying there on and off 6 months (between there and the Meridien Piccadilly). Great service followed by poor, followed by great, followed by poor, and so on. The hotel manager (Paul D) is usually pretty responsive via email as well.

    Never really relied on the concierge except for umbrellas, but I also found that the employees were often staffing the concierge desk and bellhop duties at the same.

  4. @Brendan – which do you prefer, the Sheraton or Meridien?

  5. Abhishek Duggal | March 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

    How terrible! You should write to them at [email protected] and bring this to their attention so that others aren’t subjected to such rude behavior.

  6. Wow, Stacey that’s such an unfortunate experience. I’m sorry to hear that. @Steve… I disagree… social media/blogs have an incredible influence on brands. I’ve had multiple experiences whereby a manager did nothing until I’ve tweeted or blogged about a negative experience. For instance, I had a similar experience with a hostess at the W in Hoboken a few weeks ago, and nothing was rectified until I tweeted SPG and blogged… don’t ever underestimate the power behind the consumer these days. 🙂

  7. I agree Angelina, that social media is powerful… I’m loyal to Starwood, so it’s always a bummer when things like this occur.

  8. @Steve Kalman. You took the words out of my mouth. The few hundred people who read this, may or may not ever stay at this hotel. Yet the people who stay and don’t read this are subjected to behavior none of us would want to deal with. Giving the hotel a chance to correct the behavior would make a much better post, and if they don’t would give us even more of a reason to pick a competitor.

  9. @Steve & @Michael – Starwood’s social media team has already contacted me via twitter and also contacted the hotel. So the hotel does have a chance to correct the behavior. I find that Starwood’s social media team is more customer service oriented than most hotels and by far, the most responsive social media team I’ve encountered.

  10. Departure a few weeks away will give them plenty of chance to redeem themselves. Look forward to hearing how they resolve the incident.

  11. Depends on what you are looking for.

    Park Lane
    Pros – mostly friendly staff, higher probably of upgrades, closer to green park station (only a few minutes closer), marginally cheaper rates, farther from piccadilly and noise
    Cons – older rooms, allows smoking, no club lounge
    Push – mostly Americans and business travelers

    Meridien
    Pros – nicer and more recently renovated rooms, great gym/pool (never went though), club lounge
    Cons- less helpful staff, less chance of upgrades, noisy outside
    Push- more Europeans as guests and staff

    I started at the park lane and eventually moved most of my stays to the meridian, mostly for the nicer rooms, club lounge, and non smoking policy, so I would say I prefer the meridien.

    Let me know if I can answer any more questions. I also stayed at the marriott in canary wharf, but that was just torture on the weekends.

  12. We had several issues with the concierge team. We stayed there in October and on two days I asked for an umbrella and they were already handed out to other guests. They don’t have enough umbrellas for their guests. Also, the concierge gave me incorrect information about Parliment hours and debate viewing. When we got there we were told that they don’t have debates or viewing on Fridays. Finally, I asked if they could arrange a car to take us to Southampton cruise terminal. Their price was $975US, ridiculous. I got online and found a company that not only drove us there but stopped at Stonehenge and gave a tour of the countryside…..total price $400US. Other than the experiences with the concierge team the stay was nice. I did provide my experiences to the manager and he did offer us a complimentary high tea service which we did enjoy. Although, it sounds like there has not been improvement in that area. I would stay at the property again, but would not use the concierge service. And, I would bring my own umbrella!

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