As a travel writer I try to be impartial when conducting my editorial research. That said, I also realize that because of my profession, at times I receive special treatment from folks in the hospitality industry. To be honest, after a hard day on the road I really don’t mind the perks and upgrades; however at the same time I realize that the average traveler probably doesn’t receive that same amount of individual attention and customer service. That’s why I always like to point out exemplary customer service when I’m traveling incognito. Such is the case at a property I visited yesterday.
I should also point out that I don’t travel incognito to try and trick anybody. It’s merely a case of need. If I don’t need any contacts or interviews or itinerary planning help from the local PR folks, then I don’t usually feel the need to identify myself as a travel editor. I book my room under my alias — one that’s not associated with Candy Harrington — and pay for it just like any other customer. It just simplifies things on my end.
And that’s exactly what I did at the Holiday Inn in Cody, Wyoming. I arrived to find a very attentive staff, and a clean accessible room. Unfortunately the next morning when I went to take my shower, I found that the hand held showerhead was broken. I could have called the front desk and they probably would have sent someone to fix it (I remember being greeted by a friendly maintenance person the previous day, who asked me if everything was OK in my room); but to be honest I’m not a morning person and I just didn’t feel like dealing with a crowd in my room at that time. So I just made due. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best shower in the world; but hey, I got the job done.
Later, when I checked out, I made it a point to report the needed repair, so the next guest wouldn’t suffer my same fate. I wasn’t expecting any special treatment or compensation; and to be honest for the minor inconvenience I suffered, I didn’t feel any was due. To my great surprise the desk clerk not only took a detailed report of the items that needed to be repaired (and I’m confident the repair was made promptly), but he also took 50% off my bill. And he did it all with a smile, and actual concern about my well being. And that concern is a hard thing to fake, even for well seasoned customer service folks.
And, more importantly, he didn’t do this because I was Candy Harrington. He did it because I was a guest at the Cody Holiday Inn.
This pleasant exchange got my curiosity up a bit, so I sat in the lobby and took a little time to observe the other front desk clerks in action. Of course they all inquired about how each guest’s stay was; but they went one step further. If the guest reported that his stay was merely “OK”, the clerk followed up with, “How could we have made it better than just OK?” And believe me, as a frequent hotel guest, you don’t encounter that question often at the check out desk!
In the end, it wasn’t just one clerk — it was the entire staff. And I chalk that up to a very savvy management team. So if your future travel plans include a stop in Cody (a great place for a pre- or post-Yellowstone stopover), then make sure and put the Cody Holiday Inn on your itinerary. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!!