Spin is not just a practice engaged to deflect negative PR.  I’m truly starting to believe that spin has become standard operating procedure when it comes to providing customer service. 

My wife and I recently traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a friend’s wedding.  For the duration of our trip, my wife and I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Travelers Rest (a little town seven miles east of Greenville).  While the room was clean and the bed comfortable, the service was bad from the get-go:

  • Before arriving, we called ahead to check if our directions were sound.  The phone went unanswered.
  • At check-in, we requested a room change.  The front desk employee promptly replied, “No” and hurriedly explained (without apology) that the hotel was booked solid for the weekend.
  • At one point, the toilet backed up.  Fifteen minutes later, an employee knocked on our door, handed us a plunger, and promptly left without offering assistance or apology.
  • On several other occasions, simple questions of staff were met with short or outright rude replies.
  • After paying for our rooms at check-out, we explained to the front desk employee about how it had been a bad experience from start to finish.  The reply was classic: “I’m in training, so there’s really nothing I can do about any of that.”  Astounded, I took the general manager’s card and left, but not before receiving a snide and sarcastic, “Have a nice day!”

Contrast all this with our experience at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport:

  • Our flight home was delayed, but we received plenty of notice and simple, polite explanations from the desk staff.
  • Free, unmetered WiFi was available at the airport (where this post was typed).
  • The bathroom was spotless.  In fact, bottles of Purell and cups of Listerine were available if the need was felt for a simple refresh.  Plenty of four-star restaurants in Chicago don’t offer these simple touches, yet the twelfth-busiest airport in the U.S. did. 

    Here’s a photo I took to prove it.  Ask anyone who travels frequently, and they tell you that these little touches may not look like a lot, but they are a godsend.  They communicate a subtle message: “We’re trying to make your stay here a little more comfortable.  We care for you, O Weary Traveler, as a customer and as a human being.” Well, maybe not, but it was a nice touch and appreciated all the same. It spoke volumes.

Hampton Inn in Travelers Rest

Our review on TripAdvisor

Our review on Yelp

— Michael Rubin