In contrast, a few nights after my Marriott adventure in London, I traveled to Chicago and stayed for the first time at the Westin Michigan Avenue North. The room there was simpler than that at the Marriott but check-in was a breeze and the reception desk amply staffed. A last minute request for some dry cleaning to be quickly handled was promptly attended to and well done. As for the wifi, it was fast, simple to use and free – both in the rooms and in the reception area. Wifi is free for me at Starwood properties because of my status with that points program, but even if I had paid for it, it was still less than half of the daily charge at the London Marriott. A call to the front desk to inquire about FedEx/UPS shipping options was also promptly answered and met with the welcome news that there is a FedEx facility on site at the Westin – problem solved, materials boxed and quickly shipped. Finally, on a rainy night when I was headed out to an event at another hotel, the concierge not only gave precise and helpful directions, but also offered an umbrella for the trip.
The point of this post is not so much to quibble with the vagaries of hotel service, but to point out that hotels can either get it right or get it wrong. And in a time where customers are just as aware as companies are of how to maximize their points/status/dollars (the US airlines better be listening, given their new rules providing preference to customers who pay more per flight), we on the other side of the reception desk know just as well how to choose our hotel and make sure our loyalties stay there. There are way too many options in hotels and airlines to feel bound by just one. Which is why I’ll be saying “no thanks” to another stay at the London Grosvenor House Marriott and looking forward to checking in again at the Westin Michigan Avenue North.