Little bit off subject with today’s post but I’m sure you’ll appreciate why; allow me to explain…
Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter may have seen a few ‘comments’ over the past few days about the Holiday Inn Hotel, Wokingham and you may have been wondering what it was all in aid of.
Well, as you may also know I’ve spent the last 4 days with Calvin Hollywood [Link] and his assistant Gabor Richter during their time here in the UK and yeah I’ll definitely be doing a write up about what we got up to. As well as the most incredible jaw dropping workshop we had so much fun during the evenings going out for food, bowling and generally just hanging out which is why it’s a real shame to have to report about the poor Customer Service Calvin and Gabor received by the hotel they were staying in; the Holiday Inn, Winnersh, UK (Near Wokingham).
So, as is the norm these days, experiences both good and bad are published online for the world to see and well, this is where we’re at now…
The Full Story
Check out the video below which starts with Calvin explaining the whole story (in English) and be sure to keep an eye on Gabor in the background and watch out for some of the outtakes too…
And there’s more…
Here too are a few words (ok maybe a little more than a few words) that I wrote for Calvin’s English blog [Link] …
My name’s Glyn Dewis and I’m a Photographer, Retoucher and Workshop Instructor over in the UK, and I helped to co-ordinate Calvin’s recent trip to the UK to deliver his 2 Day Workshop; arranging the Studio location, suitable Models and having made enquiries, recommended a couple of hotels for Calvin, his assistant Gabor Richter and also some of the Workshop attendees to stay in for the duration of their stay.
Out of the recommended hotels, Calvin opted to stay in the Holiday Inn in Winnersh, UK which is just a short drive from the studio so ideal…or at least that’s how it first appeared…
Two rooms (one for Calvin and one for Gabor) were booked online back in May of 2011 but Calvin received no ‘Booking Confirmation’ email and so phoned the hotel direct to see what the situation was. The female receptionist told Calvin that there was indeed a reservation but for just one room and recommended that once the phone call had ended, to go back to the hotel website and again book a second room; which he promptly did.
Ok so come Friday 26th August, the day before the workshop, and both Calvin and Gabor arrive at Heathrow, I meet up with them and drive them first to the studio to check all was in order for the following day and then it was on to the hotel where on checking in, the female receptionist said that 3 rooms had been booked; however it didn’t appear to be an issue as it was something they would ‘sort out’.
Later that evening upon returning from a meal, Calvin was informed that he would have to pay for the 3rd room for the duration of his stay…a cost of some £200 and despite explaining that only 2 rooms were required, no confirmation email was received for the 1st booking, and being advised by staff to book another room, the Front Office Manager refused to assist other than suggesting Calvin call a number from off the Hotel Website. Having only a German Mobile and Sim, Calvin asked if he could use a hotel phone to call the number but was met with a brick wall and reply from the Front Office Manager saying that “The hotel phones don’t call out”.
The following day was the first part of the workshop, the photography part so when Calvin was in full flow I left the studio and headed on back to the hotel for a meeting with the Front Office Manager to see if the situation could be satisfactorily resolved. The conversation with the Manager ended with a promise that the matter would be looked into and sorted out during the day and that I would expect a phone call back with an answer a short while later.
The phone call didn’t come so, as is the norm these days, a message was sent out on Social Media which did in fact get a response from IHG (Inter-Continental hotel Group) who oversee a number of hotel chains, asking that I email them the circumstances and they too would look into what had happened.
Later that same day I managed to again speak in person to the Front Office Manager who went on to explain that he too had now spoken to IHG and that ‘they’ had agreed the best course of action to “Help Mr Hollywood” was to give him a full reimbursement of the £200 if the hotel were to sell one of the 4 remaining available rooms to a new guest; clearly not the ideal solution but we had his ‘guarantee’ that this would not be a problem and the room would definitely sell as there was a music festival being held nearby and lots of attendees are looking for accommodation.
Feeling assured we would manage to resolve this matter the next morning a conversation with the front office manager went confirmed that in fact 2 rooms had since been sold to new guests so you would expect this to be the end of the matter, but no! A phone call was made by the Front Office Manager who then came back saying that I had misunderstood, as had the other members of the public around me at the time, and that the agreement had been that the hotel had to be fully booked i.e. ALL rooms had to be sold before Calvin would be entitled to his money back.
I just seemed that every time a solution presented itself the hotel had an opposing answer which meant they would not have to pat back any of the £200 for unwanted room.
To add to this a member of staff gave me a printout of the booking confirmation email which clearly showed that it had been sent on to the incorrect address; email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org but the hotel managers answer was that this was not down to the hotel but Calvin spelling his name incorrectly.
Why would 2 guests requiring only 2 rooms go ahead and book a 3rd room? To a layperson it just didn’t make sense but in a poor attempt at ‘thinking on his feet’ the front office manager went on to say that “only today we have a Mr Smith staying here with his wife who has booked 5 rooms for themselves so it does happen” … I mean, really? Come on…if you’re going to attempt an untruth please be a little more creative with the name…Mr Smith? I ask you?
Anyway the long and short of this is that the hotel say they only sold 3 of the remaining 4 available rooms; coincidence? Interesting though is that on the day Calvin was checking out I spoke to a member of staff on reception that I had not encountered before this point and noncholently asked if they had an vacancies to which the reply they were fully booked came back. Really? So you’re fully booked you say? but then no, the light bulb came on and a hesitant “Oh no sorry, we have 1 room available” was the response!
So there you have it, sure we had an incredible workshop as you would expect and time spent with Calvin and Gabor of the 4 days I’ll never forget for the laughs we had but it has to be said, the matter with the hotel did put a bit of a dampener on things…it was completely unnecessary and to be honest something I just couldn’t comprehend. I mean surely a gesture of good will from the hotel would have served them so much better than completely shutting down and refusing to help in any way and in fact smiling each and every time I spoke to try and help; something I did have to tell them to stop doing because it felt by them smiling they were being dismissive and showing no respect whatsoever for a clients problem.
Somehow I get the feeling when I go out to Germany to spend some time with Calvin and Gabor in the next few months, the experience will be completely different…it’s just very much disappointing that the Holiday Inn treat clients as a number, a bum on seat for want of a better phrase but my gut instinct is that this is a bit of mistake on their behalf. Let’s face it Social Media is very much out there and the norm nowadays for people to publish their experiences be they good or bad and with the large number of followers Calvin has this I’m sure will be heard and voiced by 10’s if not hundreds of thousands.
ps> It’s also worth mentioning that on the Saturday evening whilst at the reception a female resident/guest approached the front office manager saying that the lights in her room weren’t working. A call was made at reception to maintenance but there was a complete refusal to attend the ladies room despite the front office manager almost pleading with whoever was on the end of the phone to go and check it out!
It would seem that Calvin & Gabor weren’t the only residents/guests to receive poor treatment by the Holiday Inn, Winnersh, UK.
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So there you have it…the full story, and of course in the name of embracing technology and social media…feel free, in fact please do, share this those you know because after all ‘Forewarned is Forearmed’
Calvin Hollywood’s Blog [Link]