Accommodate Special Requests Whenever Possible

I was staying at a pretty nice hotel in Chicago not that long ago and I called the front desk to ask for a late checkout. I wasn’t a frequent traveler at that particular hotel, but I figured a two hour checkout extension wouldn’t be a big deal for a fairly large hotel.

Apparently, it was. Even though I had called the night before to check that a two hour extension wouldn’t be a big deal, I called the front desk in the morning to confirm it again and was told there would be a $90 fee for the extra two hours.  I told the person at the front desk that I was told an extra two hours wouldn’t be a problem the night before, but that didn’t help — if I wanted to stay an extra two hours, it’d be an extra $90.

The “lesson” of this story is that as a company, you should try to accomodate special requests whenever possible.

Most hotels make it a pretty standard practice to let guests stay an extra hour or two without charging them. The hotel I stayed at would allow a late checkout for people with frequent traveler status at the hotel, but not as a courtesy to regular guests who asked. In reality, though, the real costs of letting a guest stay an extra hour or two without penalty are probably small when compared to the increased positive feelings the hotel would gain by letting a few customers stay that extra time if they make a special request for it.

Other companies do this as a fairly standard practice. Some online retailers will upgrade customers to overnight or two day shipping as a courtesy. Airlines usually let customers with slightly overweight bags check their bags without charging them the fee. Rental car companies usually won’t charge customers if they are a half gallon short of a full tank when they return their car. There are countless examples of thinking about (and favoring) the customer loyalty value over the real financial gain associated from the fee or the addon.

4 Responses to “Accommodate Special Requests Whenever Possible”

  1. LaPointe Gary said:

    Jun 12, 09 at 3:36 pm

    Airlines and a few pounds over? I haven’t seen such a thing in over a decade.

    Otherwise, I agree, the hotel room thing should be easy enough to accommodate. And they rates they try to charge are outrageous.

    Hotels need to figure out a way to do it at check-in. A few extra hours for $5 or $10 and they’d put you on the floor they plan to clean last (or something like that). No cost to them, happy customer and extra cash for them. Free and they’ve even got a happier customer.

    Part of the problem might be staffing, they can’t have a bunch of people ask for late check out if all the staff needs to punch-out by 3pm (or something)….

  2. Jeff Toister said:

    Jun 22, 09 at 8:56 pm

    It certainly sounds like the second desk agent could have handled things better. And, it seems the real issue here is not the late check out fee but that one person told you one thing (setting an expectation that a late checkout was no problem) and the next person refused to honor that expectation. You have every right to be disappointed.

    On the other hand, have you considered whether it is reasonable to expect the hotel to always give you something extra? Isn’t “extra”, well, extra?

    One last thought. Typically a hotel’s ability to honor late check outs depends on how many people they are expecting to check in that day. Slower periods may give them more flexibility but they may need to be less flexible when a lot of new guests are expected to arrive since those people will be expecting a clean room by 3pm. (Industry average = approximately 30 minutes to clean one hotel room, so you can see how the logistics can sometimes be a challenge.) In this case, it is possible the hotel was expecting a heavy check-in and the desk agent simply did a poor job of communicating this to you or the night person made a promise he/she shouldn’t have.

  3. Tom said:

    Jun 30, 09 at 11:26 am

    A little word I use is ” Others” how about we as patrons recognize the proper checkout time and follow the rules.
    Someone is waiting to use that room and that is what the fee
    is for. How about this certain circumstances arise illness
    etc. It was stated that you knew you had a specific check out
    time. In asking for extra time “you” accepted the consequences.
    Be considerate to “others”. I’ve worked on both sides of this
    issue. It is fair to both that the propietor get reimbursed
    for his service to the end user. When driving and see someone
    waiting to turn left do you speed up to keep them from turning or do you hold speed so they can make the turn? JUST REMEMBER

  4. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » No tips required at Elysian said:

    Mar 23, 10 at 6:05 pm

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