Conversation with… my team

Conversation with… my team

I had the great pleasure to travel to the West Coast [of the United States] last week, and for the first time in a while, I was a guest instead of a host. It reminded me of what an important role our hotels play in a traveler?s life. Let me take you through my “traveling experience.”

6:30 a.m. flight out of JFK to LAX: Car service never showed up, and by the time the cab arrived (I live in the suburbs) I had to call to switch to a later flight, which of course, bumped me from an aisle seat at the front of the plane to a middle seat, row 33. The security line took 30 minutes and, yes, I got the pat down. I missed my first appointment; luckily I was able to reschedule later in the day.

2:45 p.m. return to NYC from San Francisco: 40 minute security line, no pat down but I had to go through the full body scanner. At 1:45 p.m. I received an email notification that the flight was cancelled but, “good news –they re-booked me on the 11:30 p.m.?  Not wishing to spend 10 hours in the airport, I called the carrier to ask to be rebooked on another flight on another carrier. I found a 3:30 p.m. flight on another airline, so I ran to the ticket agent, begged them to retrieve my bag, which they did, ran to other terminal and made the flight. Middle seat row 35, landed in icy JFK, waited 45 minutes on the tarmac at 11:30 p.m. waiting for a gate, finally got to baggage claim and, you guessed it, my luggage never made it.

I was not surprised to read a recent statistic that over 35% of all flights domestically in 2010 have been delayed, diverted or cancelled.

As business travelers head out in droves this year to reconnect with their customers I am reminded how important a role hotels can play in making guests more comfortable and productive. As an industry, we must fight hard not to become the commodity that the airlines have become.

I just experienced first-hand how much our guests have had to go through to simply get to our hotels. We and our teams MUST be sympathetic to today’s travelers and offer as much comfort and understanding as possible.  This was a sobering reminder.