I blog a lot about marketing and luxury destination marketing. In that process, I usually tend to focus on customer service and, many times, bad customer service experiences. I’ll readily admit that I am quick to name the companies and brands that drop the ball just when a customer needs them to solve a problem. Now it’s time to relate a case study in how to do it right. Customer service in the hotel and hospitality industry has a new leader. It’s called The Sagamore.
This idyllic retreat on Lake George has had 125 years to get it right. We had heard a lot about the Sagamore and decided that it was time to try it out– we booked a room for ourselves and one for our friends.
With our reservation solidly in place from 3 months ago, the four of us started out last Friday on the 3 1/2 hour drive to upstate New York for two nights of R & R ending with the Dave Matthews concert Saturday night. On our way to the resort, we get a phone call from hell — the hotel has somehow overbooked, and we are all being bumped from The Sagamore — and moved to The Wyndham Hotel.
Now, I’m not one to take that kind of info lying down, so I called, from my car, the corporate ownership of The Sagamore. I got a Vice President of something on the phone who was willing, at 4:30 on a Friday, to try and help me. He heard my plight about our ruined plans and a long trip planned specifically to experience The Sagamore. After contacting the hotel, he called back to report that there was simply not a room on the property, and that the GM, Tom, was waiting to talk to us on arrival. But this is supposed to be a story about how customer service was done right, so let me continue.
I should admit that at this point, I am mad as hell. We arrive at The Sagamore and now get to see what we will be missing. The resort is magnificent. Almost an oil painting of a tranquil Adirondack scene. We meet with Tom. He attempts to explain what went wrong, and I only somewhat understand. But the bottom line is, we are not sleeping at The Sagamore that night.
So here was his offer: we would spend one night at The Wyndham, and return to The Sagamore for the second night. Both nights are at no charge to us. We get the use of The Sagamore’s facilities Friday (and Saturday of course). Given no real choice, we accept the offer, and settle at the pool. Drinks arrive, and keep coming, compliments of the hotel. Dinner is also complimentary, and we had a magnificent meal. We hated to leave that night, and the Wyndham was a disappointment, but we made the best of it.
Beyond the monetary compensation that The Sagamore provided, there was a real empathy that came through across the organization. It started with that phone call I made to the owners. First, the woman who answered my call was sympathetic and willing to help. She listened to my plight, expressed her concern, and took the time to track down that VP who tried to help. How easy it would have been for them to dodge my call and make an excuse, but right at the top of the food chain, there was good customer service. Down one notch to Tom. As GM, he dealt with us in a straightforward manner, offered his resolution, and followed up to be sure that we were happy. He gave us his cell phone number to reach him at any time.
Moving down in the organization, it became apparent that The Sagamore is doing it right, internally as well as externally. It seems that our situation became known to some of the staff, probably because our checks were being picked up by Tom. A number of employees, especially a fantastic waitress named Patty, offered their own apologies, and assured us that they had never heard of this happening before. It helped to know that what Tom had told us was true. We left The Sagamore Sunday morning, happy and content. We had no horror stories to tell our friends about, or to blog about. Management never knew that my firm specializes in marketing to the affluent sector, or that I would blog about this situation. I allowed it to play out organically, and in my opinion, The Sagamore delivered exceptional customer service during an unpleasant situation. Well done. We’re planning a return trip in just a couple of weeks.