When I book a hotel room — whether it’s directly with the property or via sites like Expedia or Hotels.com — I always print out a copy of my reservation, making sure the rate and the confirmation number is on a hard copy tucked inside my manilla travel folder. I save any online confirmations or email correspondence, too, in virtual folders on my laptop. Yes, I know online sites like TripIt will do this for me, but I like my system and I like my hard copies, and do same with all flights and car rental confirmations, too. My biggest fear when I arrive at a hotel: “I’m sorry, we have no record of your reservation…”
That happened last week.
Seven rooms were booked at the AmericInn Hotel & Suites Denver West in Golden, Colorado, under a group rate I had negotiated for a group of middle-school kids competing in the state FIRST LEGO League tournament (and some of their families). When we arrived at the budget hotel last Friday, we found out the property had been bought out by Baymont Inn & Suites two days prior. Any reservations booked directly through the AmericInn hotel chain — as my group’s were — had vanished in thin air. The front desk (and apparently the new reservation system) had no record of our bookings.
Thankfully, the Baymont Inn had rooms available for us. Kindly, the front-desk staff honored the group rate (only $67 for standard rooms with complimentary wi-fi and breakfast buffet). I commend the Baymont Inn for doing everything they could to make the inconvenience of having to re-book on the spot as smooth as possible. It was not their fault that the purchase of the AmericInn hotel apparently did not include the passing on of all existing reservations.
Though I will say that watching up to nine people behind the small front desk try to figure out room configurations and room codes and how to print out receipts was, at times, quite comical. My guess is that once the new staff and management is up to speed, the check-in process at the newly named property should be easier.
What made me mad, however, was that the AmericInn group sales department (seemingly a department at AmericInn Minnesota-based headquarters that I’d emailed with to negotiate the rate), the director of sales and marketing at the AmericInn Golden, Colorado, property (with whom I’d also spoken about our group needs) nor any member of the on-site or HQ reservations staff ever called me to let me know that their hotel had been bought out by another company.
Instead of fostering future good relations with the AmericInn brand, their lack of communication with current reservation holders left a very bad taste in my mouth. The AmericInn’s Golden Promise states that they “stand by the Golden Rule of treating people as we’d like to be treated.”
I called the AmericInn Guest Relations Team to find out if it is typical practice to not notify existing reservation holders that one of their hotels had been bought out. (To me, that’s not Golden Rule behavior, to have customers fend for themselves, effectively negating existing reservations.)
The Guest Relations Team member I spoke to was genuinely cordial and kind. She apologized for my inconvenience several times. She agreed to look into my “case,” and later emailed me the following explanation:
Please be assured that we do send out notification e-mails to our guests to notify them when one of our hotels have switched brands. We hope you understand that we can not send these e-mails out until on or after the actual date of the transition. Brand change-over is subject to change at any time prior to the actual date the process takes place. I am confident that you were on our list to notify you that this AmericInn no longer was a part of our brand, but unfortunately your particular stay dates were within a time range that prevented this e-mail from being advantageous to you and your group.
So, it seems that because my stay at the AmericInn (now Baymont) happened too close to the switch-over date. The Guest Relations Team member noted that notification emails are not “prepped” before the switch-over happens, so they can go out the moment the change happens. Instead, there’s a bit of a lag after the change-over takes place; the time of our stay occurred during that “purgatory” time period before emails were ready to go out. Had our stay at the property occurred now — a week later — I am guessing we would have received an email.
While I’m not fully satisfied with that explanation — it seems that especially because this was a group rate, someone in the group sales department could have called me after they knew the buyout went through — I suppose I can accept it. AmericInn must process thousands of reservations daily; they can’t keep on top of every single one in a speedy, timely manner.
Plus, because of my inconvenience, the Guest Relations Team kindly created and credited my AmericInn EasyRewards account with eight points (six for the nights we would have earned, had the property remained an AmericInn, plus two bonus points for my trouble).
That’s brilliant customer service. Instead of carrying a grudge that our check-in to the AmericInn/Baymont hotel wasn’t smooth, I’ll now consider staying at an AmericInn again, just to earn more points toward cash or hotel credit. (After 10 nights, I can redeem my points for $40 cash or a $75 room voucher.)
My son’s FIRST LEGO League robotics team came home from the Golden tournament with a trophy. A customer-service representative treated me kindly and with respect. I scored some frequent-stay points that will eventually pay off at AmericInn. I suppose this tale exemplifies the old adage, “All’s well that ends well.”