My wife says , “seeking justice is okay, but not simply justice for yourself.”
Status holders, hotel reviewers, and pro-consumers suck at this. It is wrong to set out seeking justice so you can reap benefits and stroke your own ego. All in the name of your status but hurting people on the side. These people suck. I’ve felt this way for a while.
And you know what? It takes one to know one.
Recently, I made a complaint about a hotel on TA and when the manager asked to speak to me, I told myself I would take no compensation. I didn’t do it for compensation but rather for “information”…
But my wife is right, that is bull. I did it because of my ego, or pride or something similar but equally dangerous. And worse, most complaints are done for self-benefit.
My point today is; self-benefit comes at what cost? Actually, I have three points that I’ll strive to make, that are making me rethink things.
- Defaming hurts people
- The hotels suffer from far too many “elites”
- What a bad habit it is to gain from critizing others
Being negative can be unjustly defaming
As mentioned, I recently had an experience where I complained about something that was an actual issue, but didn’t think about the actual consequences of my actions. And I think it perfectly show-cases how one’s ego and “personal justice” can unjustly defame a hotel. Here’s what happened:
1) Kiev is beautiful in many ways, but it doesn’t matter where you stay or live, there are third world conditions you have to deal with. Namely, I experienced an issue with the power and water consecutively, which led to an issue with the tub.
Despite the unfortunate situation, it’s not something a hotel can avoid in this city. If you’ve traveled to farflung locations or third world countries, you’ve experienced similar things. Not the Hyatt, nor the Fairmont, nor any hotel could avoid these issues, for now.
2) But despite being told multiple times by the organization that the hotel would make things, right… I never heard from the hotel. I was told by the chain, that someone would be sent to clean up the mess, and nothing happened. I expressed that I understood that things like this happen, but still expected a 5 star hotel to recognize the trouble and properly respond to the issue.
3) The ego. Why do I care about “recognition?” I hear elite members say this all the time, “they didn’t recognize me as a Diamond member” or what not. Recognize? What the heck?
How did my ego come to care about my problems being recognized? Or my status being recognized. What am I a rapper? “They best recognize!”
4) I wrote a negative review.
After this and some other issues, I wrote a review. Actually, what really happened is that I went to write a review on the company’s site and they censored it! Which annoyed my ego more!
So then what?
The hotel general manager did what any general manager would do and contacted me. Of course he is biased and desperately wants to have only good reviews, but he gently pointed out something terrible about the review. I had to concede.
What I did not think about is this: if someone has never been to Kiev, they may not understand that the situation referenced is not unique to the hotel. In others words, the average reader would be disgusted by the thought of issues of dirt in water (even after a power outage), and would never stay at that hotel, (wrongly thinking it’s a problem with the hotel, not the city.)
Even though my review expressed concern about the response to the issue as my main annoyance, the reader would only hear about the issues with the water.
This happens every day. You get on TripAdvisor and write reviews because your ego was wronged by a hotel, and in doing so, you hurt that hotel’s reputation. And you may even be just! But you may not realize the additional implications and results of your terrible review.
You hurt people.
Even if you are pro capitalist and say, “hey, if business is taken across the street to a different hotel, ultimately it stays in the economy. It is going somewhere either way and either way you are not paying some hotel. Plus the hotel is a business, and businesses should be paid based on how they provide for their customers.”
Good points. Maybe you aren’t hurting jobs all that much. A loss of one job is the creation of another. Yada, yada… but, people taking pride in their work. People put their identity and self-worth in their work. You can see it in the eyes of a general manager and the cleaning lady alike. You can hurt that.
Now, fortunately this hotel has a great GM, but many hotels do not. When you complain about your service, the management goes off on the employees. Employees could even be fired.
The reason I think this is extra terrible is simply because bad management prohibits employees from doing their job well. They are given no freedom to make decisions.
So imagine this:
The employee you are dealing with has no power. They have no power to provide you with the room you need, the services you want, the products missing, etc… They have no power. Or they have to delegate those things and it takes a long time.
My biggest recommendation is that hotels (like any management) empower their employees. They should be able to send a bottle of wine to a room or be the ones to solve your problem. But not all management allows it.
So imagine that your problem is slow to get resolved because of the infrastructure of the hotel. And then you complain. Now imagine the management gets a bad review. Obviously they don’t want to admit they’ve done a bad job, so they blame it on the employee.
You might think you are punishing the right person but you are not. Or at least you can’t guarantee that you are, even if you try.
Elite entitlement has gone way too far!
You might think the hotel is to blame, but maybe it’s not.
Here is another irony. You think you have earned elite status with a hotel chain. But then you go into the hotel and are upset when you don’t get an upgrade.
Reality check: there are more elites than non elites!
I hear this over and over and over, that management has more elites than upgrades available. And yet, I hear mid-tier elites demanding suite upgrades all the time. It’s insane. But I don’t care what your elite status is, the problem isn’t the hotel, the problem is the number of elites.
Or the problem is the entitlement of the elites.
Hotels don’t always benefit from corporate ideas. In fact, sometimes they are put in hard places. Sometimes you think the suck is coming from the housekeeping or people on the bottom. But in fact, the source of the suck is all the way on top.
You just don’t know, so don’t assume you do.
Similarly, I wrote a review about the hotel not responding, but in hindsight, it is obvious they never knew of the situation despite
delegation IHG headquarters telling me they would.
The evils of compensation
Compensation for trashing a hotel is the worst positive reinforcement I can think of! Even if you are not publicly defaming a hotel or company, you are still costing them.
It actually genuinely upsets me that people teach, conspire and aim to complain to a hotel for the primary purpose of compensation. You don’t realize that you are costing someone and again, the blame may be passed down. You might be hurting the jobs of people on the bottom.
But even if you are just, even if you are wronged, and even if no one will suffer, think about your actions like this:
- Am I doing this because of my ego?
- Am I doing this for compensation or self-benefit?
- Will it hurt someone?
If yes, don’t!
And I’ll be the first to admit fault- that’s what I just did.
<Side rant about my ego>
This hobby and industry has made my ego pursuing habits seem okay, but they aren’t.
You know, not but a few years ago, I had never stayed in a 4 or 5 star hotel. I think three star hotel were very rare, and a special treat. We didn’t have money for that crap.
According to Expedia star ratings, the last time I stayed at a hotel that wasn’t a 4 or 5 star hotel was the Radisson San Juan, Puerto Rico. They still gave me lounge access, and it was still “3.5 stars”. That was a little while ago, and since then I have stayed in many nice hotels including many InterContinental, Park Hyatt and Radisson Blu hotels, just within the last few months all over Europe.
I’m so spoiled. And instead of waking up yesterday and thinking about how blessed I was, my ego got in the way. Luxury became normal and elite entitlement became standard.
Maybe it was the view from the Park Hyatt Shanghai or the InterContinental Hong Kong, that peaked my taste for such wonderfully located hotels. Or maybe it was being “recognized” by name every time I walked into the Ritz Carlton Central Park that stroked my ego. I don’t know.
But, I sincerely apologize to the hotels that I have unfairly treated in the name of pro-consumer justice.
(Although I still think IHG should get out of the stone age and stop being proud of offering free internet to elites 5 years late and start offering benefits on award stays and guaranteed lounge access to Royal Ambassadors… also 5 years late! I think IHG has ego issues too. And as the graffiti in Panama City reminds us all, “your ego is not your amigo.” As they surely lose a lot of business on that.)
</side rand on my ego>
Where was I…
Yea, so don’t do it. Don’t write letters to the hotels with the simple goal of complaining. I did it once, I wrote to Southwest after they majorly diverted a flight over a seemingly non-urgent conflict with a passenger. We got $75 each towards southwest.
Even if they did actually cost me a lot of time that could have been spent working, I’m not doing it anymore. It is terrible positive reinforcement. When you complain, you get paid. Think about what that does to you as a person!
As my wife said, “we are impressionable, even to ourselves.” You determine your character and create your own habits. What kind of character are you seeking?
And the entire time, the internet remains so anonymous, you don’t see the person or your actions after.
Should I publish my negative thoughts?
I wrote a post that I just haven’t published yet on how IHG is now the worst loyalty program in terms of “recognition” of top tier members. I’ve said this before but I have a very long post on what is wrong with the program.
I even compiled quotes from the top travel bloggers all saying that they are giving up on Royal Ambassador status because of their lack of benefits on award stays and lack of club lounge access. I compiled all their bashing into one hard hitting post, explaining to IHG how they need to stop paying their “yes men” consultants to create the same program. To try to encourage them to catch up to their other programs. To realize the business they are missing out on.
But to me it’s the best program for non-elites, believe it or not. They give you next to top tier status for dirt cheap and a ton of points to redeem at the nice hotels. Its loyalty program is backwards (greatly rewarding infrequent guests rather than the most frequent), but that’s what I love about it, as my site is about using points and miles.
But despite those goods and considering all the bads, how they devalued over the years… does anyone see any good in me posting that long post? Or is that my ego wanting to be heard?
As you can see by my still ranting about it, I struggle with this already. I have had more negative experiences lately as a Royal Ambassador than as an elite at any other hotel chain. Mostly with the lack of benefits, but the other day, I went to adjust a reservation by one day and it took 2 phone calls and like a dozen emails to do so because everyone delegated the job. And this industry has told me that not only is it okay to complain, but that I should.
And ultimately is there any good in being pro-consumer? Should I be pointing out what all businesses know, that 80% of the revenue is from 20% of your customers? And that while the number of elites is growing IHG is still losing out to the other chains? Is being a good consumer being a good person?
And if I don’t post this negative thought, am I just a “yes” man too? Do I never post anything negative? Does it cut back on my contribution and accurate information?
Anyone with me?
Listen, I say this out loud because I need to change. I’ve learned that saying things publicly changes your actions. It’s true. It’s why confession works, it’s why AA’s policy of apologizing to those they’ve wronged works… It reminds you of what is good and provides you the “okay” to try again.
And I know how much this goes on. I do. We all do it. And if I can get 139 comments (and counting) on my latest nerdy post on United’s Routing & Stopover Rules, then surely someone will admit with me that our egos have gone a little too far? Surely…
Or at the very least, I want to hear some constructive conversation on pro-consumer trends of TripAdvisor and how I should handle negative experiences as a writer. I really don’t know, I’m thinking out loud here.
But really, I hope that some egos can be put aside and we can be honest. I hope there can be a more positive trend instead of a more negative trend among elite status holders, frequent flyers and well, everyone. After all, everyone is empowered with TripAdvisor. I always thought it good that hotels would actually have consequences for poor actions… but now I wonder.
Please join the dialogue. My thoughts right now are that I’d like to see people join me in complaining less, if not at all, or share their thoughts on why they are complaining/pro-consumer.
It would be great to see (though I doubt it’s likely) more comments on this post than on my last post. It’s a more worth while subject in my opinion. But after this, we’ll go back to crazy United routes and all that stuff.
There is no judgement in this post or the comments. Comments elsewhere will be judged. Kidding…