Hello friends! It’s been a bit since I had a story to share. This one happened last week. Apologies for the length. tl;dr is at the bottom.
Relevant Background: I handle group and third-party reservations for a cluster of 4+ hotels (all under the same brand) near a popular tourist attraction. I’m also our department trainer.
So, this story sort of starts when I was on my way back to my desk after stepping away for a moment. A friend grabs me for assistance with a call she has no idea what to do with.
She has a guest who booked through a third-party and recently got an email saying said third-party was going out of business and that his reservation “may have been cancelled.” It hadn’t been (yet), but the issue was that he actually needed to rebook under a group rate and, since the third-party was no longer in existence, our agent couldn’t figure out where to send him to get his original booking cancelled.
I give her some advice and go on my way, but in the back of mind I have this feeling that this is not the last we’ll be hearing of this mysterious closing third-party.
Spoilers: it was not.
I was training a new hire that day, and it was actually my trainee who had to field the first call.
A woman, soon to be known as Shit Outta Luck (SOL), calls up requesting her reservation for that evening be noted as a late arrival. Easy enough. Except, when we pull up her reservation, our system shows that it was cancelled three days ago by the third-party it was booked through.
Usually when this happens, it means the guests have cancelled and rebooked at least once and the correct booking is actually under someone else’s name. No reason to panic yet. I direct my trainee to tell her that this booking is cancelled and to ask if there’s another name it could be under.
SOL beings to flip out. As it was over a week ago, the exact things she said escape me, but in the middle of this freak out I catch the name of the third-party as the same one I assisted my friend with earlier that night, and that three days ago she got an email saying the same thing as that earlier guest — that her reservation may have been cancelled.
Apparently her rationale for not checking earlier was that, because the email said “may” rather than “definitely has been” and she hasn’t gotten a refund from the third-party (yet — note that these take about a week to process and show in the account on average), she assumed her reservation was fine.
This logic is broken for many reasons, but okay, sure.
Also in the middle of this freak out are a lot of accusations that this is the hotel’s fault — the phrase “Why wouldn’t you call and tell me my reservation has been cancelled?” cropped up at least 3 times, but she never really gave us a chance to explain to her that that is really Not How It Works, Lady, because after venting for a solid eight minutes she then hangs up.
Now, if this had been the only interaction with her, I wouldn’t be making this post. I’m not unsympathetic; that’s a really shitty situation to be in. She was literally about to walk out the door to start a 6 hour drive to the hotel when this happened; I feel for her.
It’s the next two calls that had me banging my head against the desk.
Call #2 happened when my trainee was using the restroom. I took over the calls while she was away, so I got to be the one to deal with this one.
SOL calls back and starts off the conversation almost exactly like she had the first time. No mention of her reservation being cancelled or anything — I’m wondering if she thinks somehow it would have magically been uncancelled in the hour it took her to call back? But no, it’s still cancelled. I tell her as such, and get to listen to another long-winded rant that boils down to the same thing: her insisting this is our fault for not telling her earlier that her reservation had been cancelled (again, not how it works), with an added bonus of her wheedling and whining and demanding that we reinstate it.
We can’t do this for 2 reasons: 1) we can’t reinstate third-party bookings because Policy, and 2) this particular hotel is at capacity for the night; we have no rooms to sell.
This gets me another rant about how Unacceptable this is. (Fun fact: if she hadn’t hung up on my trainee an hour ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue. We had a couple of rooms left at that time and I was about to step my trainee through offering them to her so she could get rebooked quick. Oops.)
Again, I’m not entirely unsympathetic — though I am rapidly losing that sympathy, since she really has no one to blame but herself for her current mess, so I let her know that while we can’t reinstate her booking, we do have some very close by sister properties with similar amenities that do have (limited) availability and I’d be happy to rebook her there.
She doesn’t really listen to me, goes off on another rant for a few minutes, and then hangs up.
Okay. Less cool.
Another hour passes. My trainee is with me again, but we’ve traded places so that she’s shadowing me, since the call volume is pretty intense and she’s not used to it yet. It’s maybe 15 minutes before our desk closes when we get Call #3.
SOL is calling a different property this time. She apparently does not realize I am the same person she talked to earlier (even though I’ve given her my name like three times so far), and very obviously does not know that all of our properties in this cluster are handled by the same reservations team, because she spends the first six or seven minutes of the call giving me a very edited recap of what happened earlier. (This recap, notably, casts me-from-an-hour-ago in the role of “Meany Hotel Employee Who is Ruining SOL’s Life Out of the Evilness of her Heart.” Gotta love it.)
SOL ends this mini-tirade by stating that she rebooked at this New Hotel through another third-party about 10 minutes ago and she wants to make sure it went through.
It did not, probably because New Hotel, as well as every other property in our cluster, has been sold out for about a half hour now.
SOL just about loses her mind over this. I tell her that if she has a receipt and confirmation number, we can honor the reservation without an issue. Turns out the third-party site had timed out in the middle of her booking and never gave her confirmation number (according to her; more likely the last room got booked before she finished her reservation and it booted her out with a “sorry, better luck next time” message).
She starts making noises about just rebooking directly through the hotel. I remind her that we’re sold out and have no rooms to offer at this time. We go in circles over this about four times. SOL gets huffy, goes through the 5 stages of grief in about three minutes, then hangs up.
That was our last call of night. I told my trainee she did a good job, went home, pet my dogs, and mourned the fact that I don’t drink alcohol.
Moral of the story, kids: check on your damn reservations, especially if you get an email saying they might be cancelled!!!
tl;dr: woman is the living embodiment of “if you’d acted sooner like a rational person this wouldn’t be an issue” three times over. Books through a third-party that goes out of business. Gets an email that says her reservation might be cancelled, but decides that “might” is good enough and it’s fine to not check. Is shocked when she calls on the day of her booking to discover that it was, indeed, cancelled three days ago, then proceeds to call back 2 more times without actually accepting any offers to rebook her before its too late. Ends up with nowhere to stay that night as a result of her own stupid.