Friday, September 12, 2014

Travel & Twitter: A Powerful Combination

Look at this image: 
Is this what you want to do in the morning to get your "Breakfast" when you are on vacation?
If the answer is no, keep reading.

I saw in the news, a lady talking about her lost baggage when traveling to Europe and how she got it back, after the airline personal at the airport didn't do much for her. She twitted over and over hash tagging the airline. A representative from the airline headquarter contacted her and in a few hours her luggage was located. And CBS also took note of her cry for help on Twitter and she ended up in the news!

Anyway, a few weeks later, we drove to San Diego for Labor Day Weekend and we booked the Hilton San Diego Bayfront (My full review on Tripadvisor). I'm a Hilton Honors Gold Level Member and Hilton always included breakfast and wifi for this level of loyalty membership.

I was at the Hilton Tokyo in Japan early this year and every morning we had an amazing buffet breakfast, as a courtesy for being a loyal customer. Doubletree on Lexington Ave., also offers a nice breakfast for Hilton Honors Gold customers. Nice, right? It used to be like this.

When I checked in at Doubletree Tropicana in Las Vegas in June, I found out that breakfast was not included for Hilton Honors Member any longer, instead they gave me a voucher for a stale doughnut and a cup of coffee. I complained to management, and after a few hours, I got voucher for the buffet breakfast "as a courtesy".

At the Hilton Resort in Palm Springs the experience was embarrassing for the Hilton brand. As a Hilton Honors member, I could go to the buffet, but I only could get one pastry and a cup of coffee. To have access to the full mediocre buffet, I had to pay $7 extra. Really? At a $300 a night hotel? I complained by e-mail to corporate office and they refereed me to the hotel management that never got back to me. 


So, when  we checked in at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, I was informed that the buffet breakfast was off limits for Hilton Honors Gold Level, but they gave me a voucher for the Starbucks outside the building where I was allowed to get food and drink (one item of each). Later I found out, that if you wanted to get your free breakfast, you had to be in line for over an hour. Thank you, Hilton!

This time I didn't complain, I just walked away from the reception area and wrote on my Twitter account: the smart traveler twitter account: #HiltonSDBayfront #HiltonHonors Gold Level, no breakfast. #Starbucks coupon instead. #Lame

Five minutes later, I got a message on Twitter from Hilton Honors, apologizing and letting me know that someone would contact me soon.

Ten minutes later, I got a call from the hotel management, apologizing for the inconvenience, and she was sending to my room vouchers for the breakfast buffet for the duration of our stay... as a courtesy!

So as much as I don't like Hilton these days, I have to say that it was an awesome customer service experience. But more than that, I learned that the big brands are using social media, not only to sell their products, but also to get feed back and, hopefully, improve.

I don't think that Hilton will offer a full breakfast to Hilton Honors ever again, those days are gone. The problem is that, as a customer I had to find out about this, during the check in process, not from an e-mail from the Hilton brand.

For this reason, from now on, Twitter will be my best friend on my travels. 
Safe travels, everyone!


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