Our Compensation Clinic is back in Seoul this week where I stayed at another Marriott property, this time at The Plaza Autograph Collection where I originally had a two night stay.
The Plaza is a well established property in Seoul next to City Hall and Deoksugung Palace. I have stayed at this property a couple times before because I really like their new lounge which has just been installed (moved from the small facility on the top floor down to an entire floor which is now very spacious).
Two weeks ago I stayed here for two nights using my annual American Express certificate for the Bonvoy card and this hotel is within range at 35,000 points per night. The second night was booked under a revenue rate as I had some work to do.
In my experience communication is almost always difficult in Korea, especially over the phone. Unfortunately here at the Plaza the staff that is manning the guest service hotline for in house guests is totally incapable to process or understand even the most basic requests which trickles down to other departments of the hotel.
While staying I had to call guest services three times to request various services: Receiving some glassware for the welcome bottle of wine, asking for housekeeping services and lastly to pick up laundry for same day cleaning service. All three requests were either forgotten or mistranslated by the staff resulting in a really frustrating experience.
When after the first night the laundry had still not been picked up after four hours when I got back to the hotel room, making it impossible to be ready by the afternoon I had enough and cancelled the second night, moving to the Aloft Myeongdong down the street.
When I talked to the front office manager it was also a very bizarre scene. Instead of understanding what the problem was he wanted to upgrade my room to another suite. The small suite I had was totally fine, I don’t need a room change. I told him it was too late and I already made a reservation elsewhere. He should think about a partial refund of my stay.
After two days I received an email that the hotel would be refunding me 10,000 Marriott Rewards points for the incident:
10,000 points is fair. The value for one night at this property is 35,000 points and while I could probably have negotiated 20,000 points I didn’t want to bother anymore. My alternate stay at the Aloft went without issues and it’s in fact one of my favorite aloft hotels. In retrospect I should have just used the certificate for the new Le Meridien Gangnam-gu.
These hotels really need to have staff who can communicate in English with the guests and who understands the very basic services that any hotel provides on a daily basis. Especially when they only have one hotline for everything: Room service, housekeeping and general inquiries).
Communication issues aren’t just limited to the back office. Even front line staff and management often has a significant language barrier when it comes to very basic hotel related things. The hardware at The Plaza is really nice but they really need to work on the soft aspect of things.