This week’s Compensation Clinic case comes from a reader’s stay at the Conrad Bangkok where he was given a smoking suite in non-smoking hotel.
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You can access Conrad Bangkok’s web page here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
I was just reading the Compensation Clinic article about getting a smoking room at the hotel the other day and I would like to share with you my disappointment about Conrad Bangkok and what was GM’s solution about it (at the end I was even not asked if the solution is fine with me!).
Here are the emails with the reader and the hotel:
As a HHonors Diamond member I would like to share with you a couple of thoughts regarding my stay at your hotel (checked out on December, 02).
As a business and a frequent traveler I can rate this stay as one of the most frustrating and disappointing hotel stays ever. Until today, I couldn’t imagine that some things could happen at a five star property. Especially not under Hilton management and Conrad brand.
The major issue I have was a Suite 2824 which has a strong smoking odor at time when I checked in. Although your associates put all the efforts to neutralizing the smell (air purifier and air sprays) I am strongly convinced that hotel shouldn’t sell the room the first couple of nights after previous guest, if housekeeping find out the odor. We tried to find appropriate solution, but none of the suites were vacant the first night (I also do understand that hotel has only four rooms with terraces). The only possible solution would be the downgrade to a standard room which I declined.
I spent the night in allocated suite accompanied with many breathing problems (I have asthma) and taking the pills against allergy. It is also possible that this was a result of dust which is not properly cleaned by housekeeping which I found, unfortunately – have photos for your convenience or the silicone used by maintenance in order to repair the toilet just before I entered the room. Finally, I woke up with infected eyes and decided to seek a solution on the following morning and I was offered to move to a deluxe suite, which was fine with me, but again, I had a problem with my travel companion who declined to move to a room without a terrace, which was again very important to him as he is a smoker. This truly is my problem and I understand my colleague (I promoted Conrad and it was my preference to push it), but again if hotel would apply a penalty if someone is smoking in the room, guests wouldn’t probably smoke inside.
After continuous spraying the room and purifier working around the clock the odor was more or less gone after the second night without my good night rest and quality sleep.
Other comments go to the housekeeping and maintenance which are really not doing their job well. For example, I had some trash in the garden (probably blown by the wind) during the entire stay. It is very important not just to clean the room, but also to observe around. In such case, very, very dirty electricity switches would be cleaned. As they are extremely dirty for some time, it was not really a pleasure to touch them every time when I entered the room. I still have no idea why three empty bottles of shampoo were left in the shower for four days.
As a business traveler I often do enjoy the bubble bath in the evening of a long day. Focusing on a worn out bath in the suite, there is less pleasure doing so.
I could also focus on some other things which were not in line with five star standards such as removing displayed food at the Executive lounge and restaurant a couple of minutes before closing time. And the breakfast at the main restaurant the first morning (hotel was fully booked that night) was a complete disaster in terms of service quality (nobody removed the dirty plates during the breakfast and I finished the breakfast before I was even served the coffee) which really doesn’t surprise me so much, as food items were not replenished twenty minutes before 11 a.m., also. Not even mention the dirty and unprepared table which I was sat by.
As pointed out before, this was one of the worst Conrad stays ever and in line with the fact that you accommodated a new guest to the room where someone was smoking before, I would expect from you to compensate my frustrating, unpleasant first two nights with the HHonors points at the value of
200.000 points which is equal to the total value of two nights in this suite.
Please accept my apology for such a long email and many thanks for your kind comments.
Reply from Mr. Ehrlich (GM)
First of all allow me to thank you for your detailed email in which you provided information on your recent stay. It is important for us to have a full understanding of your experience in order to avoid a reoccurrence. As a HHonors Diamond member we value your loyal patronage.
I am apologizing for the service inconsistencies that you have described in your email in particular about the terrace garden maintenance and bathroom amenities containers not being promptly removed as well as the lack of service you experienced at breakfast. Indeed the hotel was totally booked during your stay which certainly not justifies the service issues you encountered.
I noted that your original reservation was made for a twin bedded Exec. Suite which on arrival you requested to be changed to a king bedded room, which is the room provided to you and your travel companion. As you pointed out, the suite is one of four Terrace suites that the hotel features on level 28. It is my understanding that on your concerns of the smoking odor in the suite, you were offered an Executive King room, which your companion preferred not to use. Lastly our team member offered you an upgrade to our Deluxe Suite which you kindly decided not to opt for as your companion –a smoker would not have the use of the terrace for smoking. Our Executive Floor manager has had frequent contact with you throughout your stay and I regret that the services and condition inconsistencies were not raised as we would have had an opportunity to improve your overall experience.
Mr. LL Reader, we are committed to the service and products that you have come to expect from the Conrad brand and sincerely regret your experience at Conrad Bangkok. The hotel has provided you with a number of alternatives that you and your travel companion preferred not to accept, from your email it is clear that you were not satisfied with your stay. As a token of our appreciation for your patronage we would like to offer you a complimentary one night stay at Conrad Bangkok valid for one year or alternatively 50’000 HHonors points.
I hope that you will afford us the opportunity to welcome you back to the Conrad Bangkok to demonstrate that your comments were not made in vain.
I regret if I was not specific enough what is the major issue related to my stay. The one and only problem is I was putted into a room which is not suitable for rental as previous guest was smoking in it. It’s a matter of blocking (and not to allocate) that room for another guest until room is “fresh” for rental again. Your hotel is classified as non smoking property so I was pushed to have a smelly room as I didn’t have a choice to move to a clean room within the same room category. I am always grateful for an upgrade (if I am not paying for it), but this time, terrace was a key feature why I opted out for Conrad (this is why I refused an upgrade to a Deluxe Suite and you need to understand I didn’t want to be downgraded to Executive room also). Simple as that.
Your Executive lounge manager was very helpful but she was simply unable to provide us with another suite type which we originally were looking for (I paid for the upgrade from a deluxe Suite to Terrace Suite on September 20 – so not on the arrival as you stated in your email). This is the reason why we couldn’t sort everything during the stay.
From the booking point of view (which again is irrelevant) I think hotel has plenty of time to prepare this suite for me. But the issue is that I was putted into a room with smoking odor which is unacceptable and made my stay full of frustrations and especially health problems. In addition it’s a matter of not providing a guest with something what he is paying for. I also can’t agree I didn’t inform your associates about my problems as stating in your email.
Lastly, speaking about a token of appreciation, I am almost offended you offered me 50.000 points as a compensation for an unsuitable a suite you are selling at 98.000 points per night (in points value). I can’t find that right.
I really do appreciate your time and effort how we can sort this things right.
Reply from the GM:
In response to your email of 9th December 2015, we appreciate and understand that there have been a number of areas where we have failed to provide you with the service and product that you have come to expect from the Conrad brand and apologize for the unfortunate experience. The hotel has provided you at several occasions with options subject to availability for alternative accommodation which you have opted not to accept, as stated in your letter. As a token of our appreciation for your patronage and loyalty to our brands and company I have made arrangements to reimburse you on your credit card for one night accommodation THB 10’381. being your suite rate plus service and taxes. I trust that you will find the above arrangements equitable and hope that you will afford us another opportunity to welcome you to the Conrad Bangkok to demonstrate that your comments were not made in vain.
As I can not modify my travel expenses on the credit card, I would still rather proceed with HHonors points.
Reply from the GM:
Thanks for your note, unfortunately we are unable to provide you with points at this time. The reimbursement was processed by our accounting already to your credit card which you used to pay your accommodation during your recent stay.
Reader’s final reply:
Unfortunately my case was not handled as I expected. In addition to that I am convinced that management in Conrad Bangkok is not on the highest professional level and this is the reason why other services are not excellent also.
In my initial email I let you know what I expect from you. I could be wrong but I don’t feel I got what I paid for. Based on your own judgments you made a partial refund to my credit card which is completely unacceptable for me, I will not be able to use them and in addition to that I will have to deal with my accounting department why we got the credit in the very first place. You didn’t even ask if this is a solution for me, but just did it.
Personally I will never ever return to your hotel (making someone else happy) as your approach to situations which guests are not responsible for is even more frustrating.
Focusing on guests and listen to them is by my opinion the right approach to maintain the high and superior level of all services. I also think it would be right to notify the Hilton Corporation about our incidents.
I was just out this past weekend on Tokyo and unfortunately they still haven’t banned smoking inside bars here. All my clothes were reeking of smoke and in dire need to “airing”.
Giving 100K Hilton HHonors points for the smoking issue would have probably been revenue neutral for the hotel considering the amount charged for point purchases (there must be further discount for points issued for compensation).
Hotel simply should have taken the suite out until they were able to remove the smoking odor from inside and hit the previous guest with the smoking charge. It is very sloppy just to assign it to someone and hope for the best.
I have stayed at this Conrad several times and it is usually quite cheap during Hilton’s frequent sales (you can usually get it less than 4K THB per night). The club lounge can be overrun during the evening cocktail hour and the staff is sometimes inconsistent.
Refunding charge or giving partial refund doesn’t work for those that expense their stays and pay using company issued credit card. Points are then the most obvious solution and win-win for both parties. Not sure why this Conrad wasn’t willing to do it.