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Since we're all on social media these days, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or FourSquare, we frequently see folks posting their recommendations for seemingly everything from restaurants to bars to skin care products, music, shops and of course, hotels.
Most of the hotel recs are pretty straight-forward--"I loved this hotel!" "Great spot on the beach!" "The kids love it!" and the like--but since we follow so many peeps that are frequent travelers as well as those in the hotel industry, we often see this kind of mention in a hotel recommendation, Be sure to mention my name to the GM and he will hook you up. Um, wha-what?
While we've personally never phoned a GM for a "hook-up", we have heard some experiences of guests who got preferential treatments from the hotel whether it be because they are return guest, or because the hotel was trying to make-up for a boo-boo or because they were there for a special occasion. So based on what we've seen and heard, a "hook-up" can mean a few different things:
We’ve got to get something off our chest: we have officially, completely, and utterly maxed out on peek-a-boo bathrooms. They have gone too far, and we’re beyond done.
Yes, we’ve talked previously about how a wall of (smoke) glass between shower and bedroom is sexy to some and annoying to others. We also appreciate that hotel designers, in the case of bog-standard hotel room lay-outs, need and are trying to find ways to be creative with the space. We get it.
But what truly has us raising the red flag is a few recent experiences where the lack of privacy has, inexplicably and unforgivably, been extended to the toilet. The picture on the left is one of the worst we’ve seen yet, taken at an all-villa resort this past weekend where rates can easily run upwards of $700 a night. The thatch you see behind the wall on the right? The entrance to the villa and also the public footpath!
We came across an article published earlier last week on the Santa Monica Mirror that described a woman who showed up at the Loews Santa Monica at 1am, asking for a room. The hotel had availability, so they asked for a credit card, and the woman handed over (what she claims was) her credit card. Which was declined.
That's when things got strange. Apparently, instead of just walking away, the woman demanded a free room, and when that request wasn't granted, she simply went to sleep on one of the couches in the lobby.
Now, we've been through plenty of hotels where the lobby was big enough to house our apartment several times over. And we often thought, 'What if we just dozed off for a couple hours in the lobby a couple of hours, then set off on our way?' We'd certainly be saving ourselves lots o' cash, and the hotel would be none the wiser!
We're not saying what this (probably deranged) woman did was right—in fact, the hotel ended up calling the police and she was arrested and taken to jail. But we are wondering: have you ever slept in some part of the hotel that wasn't your room? Was it on purpose? Did you get caught?
Hotel booking site, Tingo.com arrived on the scene about a year ago, promising to give money back to hotel guests if the rates dropped after they made their reservation but before they arrived for their stay. The site also helps guests who book with them get free room upgrades too. Clearly, it's not your average point, click and enter in your credit card booking site.
When we first checked it out, we compared it to a game show and a year later, not much has changed. The booking process is straightforward but we imagine after you book your room, you will be keeping your fingers crossed and hopping up and down hoping to get some money back. But you may not need to do that as chances are pretty good you will "win" if you book with Tingo.
For its first birthday Tingo, which is part of TripAdvisor, has put out a new infographic claiming to have refunded over $371,000 to travelers. (Actually, the number is now over $400,000.) The average refund per guest has also risen from $47.69 to $54.30. A recent article on Tingo even tells how one lucky guest was refunded $1,878.73 for her trip in the Dominican Republic. Um...yes, please?
But perhaps the most compelling stat is that 44 percent of customers who booked with Tingo got a better deal, either with a Money Back refund or a room upgrade.
Last week, we were dismayed to hear about Johnny Jet's bad experience while staying at the Ojai Valley Inn during filming of the cheesy dating show, The Bachelorette. A five-star hotel should definitely not shaft its guests just so a production crew and reality stars can film the perfect shot.
But is there really a way where a hotel, its guests and a TV or movie production crew can all get along?
One HotelChatter commenter thinks so. He writes:
Hassle can be minimized. I've been on both sides of this type of situation. Years ago, I was Night Manager of a hotel where a movie was filmed. I had guests complain because they couldn't access the health club, indoor pool, or spa because of the movie. That was horrible because my hands were tied. I couldn't kick the film crew out; and, discounting the room didn't do much to mollify guests who expected to be able to use the hotel amenities.
Occasionally, I work on some of the TV shows shot here in South Florida. A few weeks back, we filmed in the lobby of one of the hotels in Ft. Lauderdale. The production did a great job of not inconveniencing guests. While guests were prevented from walking across the lobby, that only happened during the shot. And, the longest any guest had to wait was about 4 minutes. Since guests could stand and watch the scene, no one seemed to be bothered.
Seems like the Fairfield Inn & Suites Brooklyn is having neighbor issues lately, as a NY Times article this weekend spotlighted a noise dispute going on between the hotel and an arts organization located across the street.
According to the article, Fairfield guests have repeatedly complained about "late night drumming" being heard up until 2am. Ugh. On the other side of the argument, the Gowanus Arts Building claims that Fairfield is acting too high and mighty—the hotel opened just last year, while the Gowanus Arts Building's been around since 1985.
Understandably, Fairfield fears losing valuable guests due to ongoing complaints, yet they're up against an important neighborhood cultural institution. So, who's right?
Well…we're not really asking. We'll leave it up to the city to sort through all the legalities and decide.
In the meantime, we wanna know: have you ever stayed at a noisy hotel? Did it keep you from sleeping through the night? Or, even worse, make you never want to return as a guest?
Just a little while ago, we went on a rant about hotel Facebook pages, and what the fuss is all about. Many of you piped up, with one commenter noting "the whole Facebook marketing angle is over-hyped."
Another pointed out that often times, the "social strategy is coming from a global [headquarters] that is unaware of local trends."
Which might actually be a clue as to why Hilton has managed to beat all the other brands at the Facebook game.
Just yesterday, Hilton announced they were the first ever hotel brand to reach one million "likes" on Facebook. For those of you who abstain from the Facebook (stay strong!), that statement probably reads like gibberish. But we're guessing the rest of you are just as curious as we are to find out exactly how Hilton managed to pull off such a feat.
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The other day, we were meeting friends for brunch and settled on a restaurant in a Brooklyn hotel which shall remain unnamed*. We'd heard nice things, and having popped inside the lobby once or twice, we figured it would be an opportunity to soak up the vibe, relax, and eat good food.
It all started when the hostess refused to seat us until the rest of our party had arrived, even though we could see plenty of open tables. Fine. We told them we'd wait in the lobby and order some tea. Well, we had to elbow our way to the bar to get that done. And after one barista impatiently took our order, we lingered for ten minutes waiting for the tea to materialize (how hard can it be? You fill a pot with water and stick a teabag in it) before giving up and heading back to the lobby.
Five minutes later, another grouchy barista tracked us down in the lobby to inform us our tea was sitting at the bar—in other words, he could have brought it out to us, but didn't. OK, we said, we'll come get it. On the way back to the bar, we requested that the tea just be added to our brunch bill since we'd already put our names down for a table.
"Fine," he said, as if we'd just asked him to commit adultery.
Evidently, this was not off to a good start.
OK, we'll start this rant by acknowledging that, in general, there are elements of social media that get on our nerves, so you'll have to excuse us if at times we seem a little biased. However, the topic we're covering today concerns a very particular kind of social media: hotel Facebook pages.
Pretty much every hotel opening these days has one, but what exactly do they accomplish? And does anybody care what they have to say?
A few recent examples come to mind: QT Gold Coast wondered what we thought of JLo's manicure at the Golden Globes. Over in New York, Hotel BPM felt like sharing how "hot" they think Rihanna looks in the current issue of Rolling Stone. And though it hasn't even opened yet, The Quin Hotel is "recommending" the Michael Kors Spring 2013 womenswear line.
Maybe we're just not hip to the groove, but can someone please explain how these status updates have anything to do with the hotels themselves?
It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
Last January, after reading a story about an Irish hotel staff being instructed to post fake reviews online, we posed the question: "Have You Ever Been Bullied Into Writing A Positive TripAdvisor Review?".
Unsurprisingly, you all had plenty to say about the issue. What surprised us, however, was how long the debate has endured.
Fast forward to this month, when a similar incident took place, this time in Dallas, TX, where some genius employee had the idea of offering customers cash rewards in exchange for nice reviews on TripAdvisor.
On the one hand, we can kind of sympathize with the hotels, who are really just desperate for positive feedback (that future guests will then hopefully read). But on the other, we're frustrated that the online reviews we once trusted are seeming less and less reliable.
One commenter (a hotelier) called it "regrettable but a necessity" for hotels to solicit positive feedback from guests, while another admitted to asking guests to post reviews online, but noted, "I don't use the word "positive" and I don't give rewards." If only they could all be so upright...
A recent guest spotted and photographed the above sign, which was mounted at the check-in desk of the Grand Dallas Hotel. In plain letters, the sign offers to compensate guests (in cash, instantly!) for writing positive reviews of the hotel on sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline and Travelocity.
The hotel, which, incidentally, only scores three stars on TripAdvisor (based on nine reviews), reacted promptly to an article posted on The Consumerist, who was tipped off about the sign by a reader who was actually staying at the hotel. Within hours, management had taken down the sign, explaining:
"This sign was posted by one of our front desk staff members while I was out of town for a few days. The team member was trying to go above and and beyond based on a staff meeting we had a couple of weeks ago where I asked the team to try and come up with some creative ways to encourage and get more user reviews for the hotel. "
Eye-catching? Yes. Creative? Not so much.
Over the course of last week, we presented 22 General Managers from around the world, each of them unique in their own way. And while we were ready to simply cave and pronounce them all the Hottest GM, you guys were a little more discerning. Now, after over 600 votes, we have managed to whittle down the list to just four finalists.
All you have to do is enter their name in the comments, or shoot us an email by 11:59pm EST on Thursday. The winner will be announced on Friday, and you'll have the pleasure of either bragging to your friends that you voted for the world's hottest GM—or you'll be inspired to plan a trip and go meet the handsome devil.
And the finalists are...
· New York's lovable Rob Andrews at the Eventi Hotel. This dapper English lad regularly charms the pants off New Yorkers with his looks, spiffy sense of fashion, and, of course, his accent. Maybe if he wins, the Eventi should put him up on their Big Screen for the day.
Click through to see the rest of the finalists!