Tolkien, artist

Hotels and Shows

 My schedule is always a bit bizarre. I live a year in advance - my calendar is filled for 2011 and within a few months, it will be scheduled for 2012. I attend the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin every June for several days. The number of days depends on the classes that I have interest in and my funds. This year I am spending monies with a much heavier hand than I have for several years because of classes that I want to take. So I'll be spending a longer time at the show this year, and hotels keep getting more and more expensive.

Hilton Hotel Milwaukee

Although I prefer the Hyatt, I'll be staying at the Hilton this year.

I usually stay at the Hyatt - the host hotel. I love it there, I know the staff and they know me. The bartenders are almost personal friends by now. But their customer service fell flat when I tried to make reservations yesterday. I needed a room with two beds for the show rate and there were conflicts with two days where the show rate rooms were already fully booked. I could have spent $5 more for one day and $30 more for the second day, but I decided to try a different hotel instead. I know that the hotel still had rooms available, just not at the show rate, and they were unwilling to bend at all on their rates. The Hilton hotel, my second choice, ran into the same problem - not having a room with two beds available for the time frame that I needed. But instead of telling me that I would have to pay one rate for one day, one rate for another day, and the show rate for the remaining days, they worked on it for me. They checked their availability, and they gave me a room at the show rate even though the block of rooms for the show had already had all of their 2-bed rooms booked. They came through for me. Guess who got my reservation this year - duh! So great customer service pulled me into a new place and got my dollar. I guess that's a lesson for all of us in retail. Customer service CAN make a difference. I just have to keep remembering that and keep working on it in my own store so that I am the place that is chosen, not the store that is left behind.
Oh, good customer service definitely makes a huge difference! One reason Mr. Steel and I keep going back to LL Bean is their customer service. We'd heard it was excellent, and then had a first hand example. I had a pair of summer shoes I bought from them - if it weren't for the closed toes, I'd've called them sandals. Very comfortable, and I wore them almost every day for close to six months. A thin piece of plastic broke on a strap, rendering them unwearable. I might've jury-rigged a repair, bu Mr. Steel pointed out that we were going to be passing be Freeport anyway, so why not try returning them? I had no receipt, but they recognized the shoes as their own, and pulled my transaction up out of their computer system just using my last name. Then they apolgized for the fact that said shoes weren't currently being stocked because it was now autumn - and would I mind a store credit, instead?

Their company motto goes back to a saying of their founder, which is 'Sell a good product at a reasonable profit and treat the customer like a human being and they'll always return.'

Oh, and about hotel staff becoming like personal friends - yes. Mr. Steel and I know the Hyatt Harborside staff by name, and also the bar staff in the Bay Lake Villas at Disney's Contemporary Resort. It makes a place seem like a home away from home.
Oh yes, I've stayed at the Hyatt for the past 10 years and know the bartenders, the wait staff and the managers. Thank goodness for that - when I broke my arm two years ago, it was the bartenders who managed to get me through that. I'll never forget their assistance and kindness (and the free alcohol helped to get through the pain). I'll pop in and have a few drinks there, but it won't be the same as being there every night. I can only hope that the Hilton bar has better Port. The selection of good Port seems to be going downhill and I do love my miruvor.

- Erulisse (one L)
For me, decent customer service is 90%. So I would have swapped hotels too. When they do not even sound interested about you, why would you give your money to them?
I'm very impressed by your organisation! I'm normally reluctant to commit to anything more than three weeks away; but then, I guess, I am a feckless student still. It's good that the Hilton was competent and willing to deal with customers. I hope the show's amazing and worth the money!
The show is always worth attending. I've been attending it annually since 1995, so many years. There are many friends who I see only once a year at this show, so attendance is mandatory in my life. The difficulty comes with what classes I want to take. This year I want some intensive classes to aid my personal visions and those are early in the 8-day schedule. That necessitates a long hotel stay since the actual sale part is only the last three days.

As for organization - I have no choice. But I am, basically, a very organized person when it comes to scheduling and my art. I, however, am a horrible scheduler when it comes to making time for housekeeping (other than laundry and dishes) and general clean-up. So there is the proof that I can be a balanced person :-)

- Erulisse (one L)