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Sunday, July 27, 2008

RWA Nationals 2008: Pre-Conference Hotel Update

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but so far I am NOT IMPRESSED with the San Francisco Marriott. The first sign of ugly things to come was that when we reached our room (sans luggage and after a horrendous day of airline fuckups) it was already inhabited by a large-ish loudly whirring machine that a helpful passing maid told us was to "fresh the air" and get rid of the "bad smell." And indeed, beneath the strong scent of industrial cleaner, a very bad smell was still distincly noticeable. When I call the front desk to ask wtf, the guy's big offer was to come up and remove the maching.

Uh, no. New room, please.

So fine. Ensconced in our new room, full of the extra bedtime pillow chocolates the sweet maids had given us, we went to bed and dreamed hopefully about out bags all making it to the hotel. Which they did. The guys at the bell stand were helpful and efficient. (Are we seeing a trend here? The support staff is great; it's management that sucks.)

Around nine am, just as I was drying my hair and Stinger was emerging from the shower, the lights started to flicker. Water pressure dropped. A few seconds later, all the power went out. For the whole hotel, as it turned out, minus one elevator which became immediate beseiged, and the service elevators, which we snuck onto and rode down to the lobby. Risky, I know, but I wasn't about to walk down 31 flights of stairs. Downstairs, the lobby was chaos, full of people with luggage unable to be checked in and people trapped in an elevator. The only staff trying to help them were--you guessed it--another couple of maids. The management guys were mainly standing around looking harrassed and saying the power will be back on soon. Only that was a big lie. Two hours later, still no power. Very upsetting to Stinger, who was only able to come on this trip on the understanding he'd be released from in-law duty during the mornings to work on his laptop. So we went shopping for a bit, had some lunch and then he went back to the hotel to try his luck again. STILL no power. The power didn't come back on until five that evening.

And has the hotel offered a single thing to compensate for the insane level of inconvenience to their guests? Nope. Instead, we got a note under our door explaining that, due to the power outage, there would be a limited supply of hot water for the next few days. By the time I read that, it was already too late.

So I'm sitting here unclean and fed up, and warning you all to shower before you get here. And maybe pack a flashlight or a couple of candles. Because this might be a rocky conference.


Oh. No.

Not a good note to start on.

Sigh. I really hope it gets better, Louisa. Hugs.

Keeping everything crossed that they fix things toot sweet!

Am gonna arrive sweaty and grungy after at least 10 hours on a plane... :(

Oooh. I had heard rumblings. Now you confirm. So glad I'll be across the street at the Mosser, even though the rooms are sized for sardines.

Hang in there! Hope it gets better.

oh dear. thanks for the update

Yikes, what ill omens for the two thousand conference attendees starting to arrive.

Blogging National

Two words: Good Grief!!!

Oh my. Do they even know what's about to hit them?

Packing a flashlight, air freshener and perhaps some therapeutic chocolate.

Hi. Had to comment. I'm heading to SF on Wednesday, but work at the Marriott HQs in DC. I'd be happy to pass on the information if things don't improve soon!

Hey Leslie:

Nice to see you weigh in. As I was reading this post, I was thinking it would be better not to stay in the Marriott in the DC next year. Hope you can help make a difference!


Actually - the power outage affected many blocks - stores, restaurants and hotels -- around the it wasn't just our hotel!

Can you imagine the bellmen CARRYING luggage up and downstairs to get people checked out? The staff came through wonderfully and I'm saying that in spite of not getting a room until near midnight.

I'm just glad it happened yesterday and not Tuesday or Wednesday....

See you all in San Francisco!


I'm glad it was a whole block thing, so it doesn't sound like it was a problem with the hotel itself. It was all over the news I guess. And all I have to say is...nothing can be worse than that Texas hotel from last year. Gahd. The rats... the isolation... the fire ants...

This one's really not the Marriott's fault.

IMO it isn't about who's at fault, it's about how they treat their guests over the inconvenience. And it sounds to me that the support staff is doing a fabulous job and management is falling down on the job.

Adding "Flashlight" to my SF packing list...

Thanks for the heads up, Louisa :).

Not a good way to start your trip. I hope things improve soon!

I'm arriving on Wednesday, but staying at a different hotel. See you soon!

Hotels don't offer; you need to ask, and don't be afraid to ask them to comp the room or give you a discount. At the very least, you should get a free meal. Their main interest should be keeping their guests happy. Ask to speak to the manager on duty, and they should take care of you. And hooray for the support staff (of which I am one, and I've had to deal with power and water outages and elevators stuck with people inside and it's not fun from the other side at all.)

I recognize that it was a city-size problem and the Marriott engineers weren't going to be able to fix it. But when the hotel management's response was (literally) "It's just one of those days," I had to laugh.

Here's hoping things go better once the hundreds of romance ladies start rolling in!

Wow, major suckage!!!! I hope everything's up and running for the conference, LOL, or it's going to be MADNESS...

I'm glad I'm staying in a hotel down the block, too! haha

Boy am I glad I'm not staying at the Marriott!

Ugh, so sorry!!!!!!


{{{{{{{HUGE HUG}}}}}}}}}}

I suddenly feel better that I'm not going to conference.

Yup, obviously not the hotel's fault, but there should have been complimentary wine or champagne in every single room. Or something equivalent. And they should have been letting their guests know where they'd arranged for free wifi access (with coffee and plenty of outlets provided), and so on.

It's all about how you deal with the crisis.

All great comments but I was in the lobby as well and well they can't give you outlets to plug in if there is no power. And they did give free wine and domestic beers in the lobby. Also the other comment about just asking for a comp is right I asked the manager what they would do for me and she comped my night right away I did not even have to ask. But since my company is paying for my room I asked for a comp certificate which I can use at ANY Marriott instead and I got that right away instead. So just think as frustrating as it was for us they not only had to deal with the outage but with all of us as well. Oh and again all you have to do is ask for something at hotels and they are good about comping it out.

And if you looked on PG&E website they gave a long apology on the outage and explained everything and even showed how much of the city was truly affected. And believe me is was more than just the Marriott. Great thing was it was a beautiful day in the city so it forced me to enjoy the sunshine. Anyone coming to join me here should not be worried it was just one of those freak accidents City Wide and nothing is wrong with the hotel.

But Marriott is in the hospitality business. And maybe this is just the way my mother raised us, but to me, hospitality doesn't mean waiting to be prompted and then doing the bare minimum. For what we're paying pee night, I expect more. Like, for instance, a contingency plan for if the hotel loses power.

My husband notes that when he stayed in a Courtyard by Marriott in Bellevue back in 1994 (maybe a February windstorm -- a little unclear at this point), the power was out for parts of two days. The hotel did not charge him for those two days.

He didn't have to ask for this and he was mostly just happy they didn't kick him out.

Just to give you some reference for what you could try to get in a parallel situation -- from the same overall chain.

Soliz, my point was that the hotel should have found somewhere in the neighborhood (outside of those five affected blocks) where their guests in desperate need of connectivity could plug in and relax.

This would have been a double boon - it would have gotten agitated guests out of the crowded lobby, and been seen as going above and beyond.

Like Louisa says, hospitality is about anticipating needs rather than waiting for your guests to beg.

I guess I was just lucky in who I spoke with. The managers let me know that they had worked out a deal with Sports Club LA around the corner allowing anyone from Marriott to go in there and use there showers, trust me I know it is not the best but atleast they worked something out to give us options. Also I think we can all agree that if they were to just comp everyones night without asking then some of us would go down and say well yeah you did that but I did not ask for it so what else are you going to do for me. What can I say it's just human nature to only be satisfied after you get something you have asked for. So I can see where they wait to make it a personal comp night or whatever compensation you may ask for.

Well in the end I hope we can all agree that the service here at the least is up to par with Marriott standards. And depending on who you interact with can be far above. And thank God we where not affected by the earthquake. I mean by the sounds of some of you it would have been the end of the workd for this hotel to allow an earthquake to happen during your stay. I hope some of you were able to watch the ABC special "The Last Lecture" because if you did I am sure we would all agree that what happened the other day was truly nothing.

Um, Soliz...I'll ignore your inherent ability to self-edit and just say, "Over-react much?"

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