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Power outage: how long to make a guest wait before walking them?

Power outage: how long to make a guest wait before walking them?

Old Mar 29, 13, 1:07 pm
  #1  
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Power outage: how long to make a guest wait before walking them?

I recently had a reservation at a Wingate by Wyndham and arrived late in the evening during a power outage. The hotel refused to give me a room (they didn't have power for the computer to issue keys and hadn't figured out how to use manual keys to let guests in) and refused to walk me, instead asking me to wait for the power to come back. I was not given any estimate of restoration time.

As context: several other hotels in the area were also without power, some had lost power but had it back up by this point, and others never lost power.

Questions: assuming that there alternate hotels with power (as there were in this case), how long is it reasonable to ask a guest to wait for power restoration before walking the guest? And, as a guest, how long it is reasonable to wait before walking oneself? And lastly, should this be treated as a "walk", with the hotel paying for the alternate room, or is this reasonably beyond the control of the hotel, relieving them of all obligation (other than, perhaps, a refund)?
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Old Mar 29, 13, 7:02 pm
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How patient are you?

Me I would have been trying to find accommodation with power immediately since the hotel could not give me a time.

As far as walk if the outage was out of their control and not reasonably predictable (scheduled power outage) then I do not think anything is owed.
However, If they knew beforehand because it was a scheduled thing then they owe you the difference in price and an apology for not informing you ahead of time so you could make alternate arrangement
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Old Apr 1, 13, 11:15 am
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I'm very to hear about your expeirence. Please contact Customer Care who deals with any hotel concerns. Their number is 1-800-449-3716.


Originally Posted by milestraveler View Post
I recently had a reservation at a Wingate by Wyndham and arrived late in the evening during a power outage. The hotel refused to give me a room (they didn't have power for the computer to issue keys and hadn't figured out how to use manual keys to let guests in) and refused to walk me, instead asking me to wait for the power to come back. I was not given any estimate of restoration time.

As context: several other hotels in the area were also without power, some had lost power but had it back up by this point, and others never lost power.

Questions: assuming that there alternate hotels with power (as there were in this case), how long is it reasonable to ask a guest to wait for power restoration before walking the guest? And, as a guest, how long it is reasonable to wait before walking oneself? And lastly, should this be treated as a "walk", with the hotel paying for the alternate room, or is this reasonably beyond the control of the hotel, relieving them of all obligation (other than, perhaps, a refund)?
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Old Apr 1, 13, 11:27 am
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I don't think it is reasonably considered a full "walk" (paying first night etc), provided it was a normal out-of-their-control power outage, and not a preplanned maintenance one at the hotel.

It would, however, be entirely reasonable for the customer to find an alternate hotel and insist on a full refund (if prepaid, including Priceline etc) or not to be charged (if just guaranteed). If the hotel can't deliver the product, even if not their fault, they must of course not charge for it, even if not required to compensate further (because it's not the customer's fault either).
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Old Apr 1, 13, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Wyndham Rewards 2 View Post
I'm very to hear about your expeirence. Please contact Customer Care who deals with any hotel concerns. Their number is 1-800-449-3716.
I had already done so, and I did so again following this encouragement.

Their answer was that a power outage is outside of the hotel's control and "this is not considered a walk situation".

I can see both sides, but I suspect that most quality hotels would take on the burden on reaccommodating guests. I remain disappointed by Wyndham's resolution of this matter.

While losing mains power is, indeed, likely outside of the hotel's control, it's one of the normal sort of disruptions that befalls hotels from time to time. Sometimes it's a water outage, sometimes power, sometimes labor. Sometimes a previous guest trashes a room and it has to be taken out of inventory. While their timing may be unpredictable, one can reasonably expect these disruptions to happen.

Hotels have many options for managing each of these risks. Some hotels choose to keep a case or two of flashlights at hand. Some hotels choose to have generators. Some choose to have a UPS for the property management system, so they can at least issue keys. And some choose to have manual keys accessible to the staff and take the risk of putting guests in rooms even when they can't immediately process the guests' credit cards. When a hotel manages these risks so poorly that it can't put a guest in a room at all, I think it needs to take on the burden of reaccommodating the guest.
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Old Apr 9, 13, 12:19 am
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Originally Posted by milestraveler
I can see both sides, but I suspect that most quality hotels would take on the burden on reaccommodating guests. I remain disappointed by Wyndham's resolution of this matter.

While losing mains power is, indeed, likely outside of the hotel's control, it's one of the normal sort of disruptions that befalls hotels from time to time. Sometimes it's a water outage, sometimes power, sometimes labor. Sometimes a previous guest trashes a room and it has to be taken out of inventory. While their timing may be unpredictable, one can reasonably expect these disruptions to happen.

Hotels have many options for managing each of these risks. Some hotels choose to keep a case or two of flashlights at hand. Some hotels choose to have generators. Some choose to have a UPS for the property management system, so they can at least issue keys. And some choose to have manual keys accessible to the staff and take the risk of putting guests in rooms even when they can't immediately process the guests' credit cards. When a hotel manages these risks so poorly that it can't put a guest in a room at all, I think it needs to take on the burden of reaccommodating the guest.
The points you make are all reasonable on a theoretical level but the key to the discussion lies in the first line of quoted text; I'm afraid you have unrealistic expectations. While not, of course, rock-bottom, Wyndham is at most a low- to mid-tier chain. Expecting (high-)quality hotel features will only lead to disappointment.

cheers,

Henry
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Old Apr 15, 13, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by henry999 View Post
The points you make are all reasonable on a theoretical level but the key to the discussion lies in the first line of quoted text; I'm afraid you have unrealistic expectations. While not, of course, rock-bottom, Wyndham is at most a low- to mid-tier chain. Expecting (high-)quality hotel features will only lead to disappointment.
Heh. Thanks for summarizing so clearly. That's pretty much where my thoughts were headed, too.
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Old Apr 26, 13, 11:55 pm
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Originally Posted by milestraveler View Post
I recently had a reservation at a Wingate by Wyndham and arrived late in the evening during a power outage. The hotel refused to give me a room (they didn't have power for the computer to issue keys and hadn't figured out how to use manual keys to let guests in) and refused to walk me, instead asking me to wait for the power to come back. I was not given any estimate of restoration time.

As context: several other hotels in the area were also without power, some had lost power but had it back up by this point, and others never lost power.
Wow, this is some terrible service from a property tier that was designed to compete with the Hampton Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses.

I've been in the hotel industry most of my life, literally. And while power outages hurt like nothing else since property management systems have moved into the cloud, and room 'keys' are non-existent, these are definitely not good excuses for poor service.

So let me answer your questions from someone that's been on both sides.
Originally Posted by milestraveler View Post
Questions: assuming that there alternate hotels with power (as there were in this case), how long is it reasonable to ask a guest to wait for power restoration before walking the guest? And, as a guest, how long it is reasonable to wait before walking oneself? And lastly, should this be treated as a "walk", with the hotel paying for the alternate room, or is this reasonably beyond the control of the hotel, relieving them of all obligation (other than, perhaps, a refund)?
I wouldn't ask a guest to wait--I'd figure out options and let the guest decide. No one wants to wait in a hotel lobby without power when they're just needing some rest.

As a guest, if I didn't have any real information on when the power might be back, and there's other options around. I'd tell the property that I understand that the circumstances are beyond their control, but I need rest and want to cancel my reservation without penalty. If they didn't oblige, I would have gone elsewhere and just disputed the charge. Hotels rarely get to keep revenue from 'no show' reservations when they're disputed by the credit card holder.

As a hotel owner and operator, I wouldn't attempt to pay for a room that I have no control over for a guest. But I would make sure that I wouldn't charge them for a room that's not available, and give them the flexibility to do what they need since I couldn't deliver a product. In fact, if I was working front desk at that Wingate, I would've pulled out my cell phone and called all the hotels around for power and room availability for you. And then I would've given you the option to wait at my hotel for power to return, or to go to another property without being charged. That would have been the fair thing to do imo.
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Old May 2, 13, 9:27 am
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by SamirD View Post
Wow, this is some terrible service from a property tier that was designed to compete with the Hampton Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses.
...
As a hotel owner and operator, I wouldn't attempt to pay for a room that I have no control over for a guest.
Thank you very much for this perspective. I appreciate your insider's view.
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Old May 2, 13, 10:33 am
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This.

Originally Posted by jmastron View Post
I don't think it is reasonably considered a full "walk" (paying first night etc), provided it was a normal out-of-their-control power outage, and not a preplanned maintenance one at the hotel.

It would, however, be entirely reasonable for the customer to find an alternate hotel and insist on a full refund (if prepaid, including Priceline etc) or not to be charged (if just guaranteed). If the hotel can't deliver the product, even if not their fault, they must of course not charge for it, even if not required to compensate further (because it's not the customer's fault either).
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Old May 2, 13, 12:15 pm
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I had something similar happen years ago, when I was trying to check in at a hotel for a mystery shop. The hotel didn't have power, yet neighboring businesses did. We tried to check in, and were told they couldn't process our check in, but to check back later. We grabbed dinner, and then, at 10 PM, stopped back, only to find they were still without power.

At that point, they gave us the options of staying until they had power or leaving. We opted to leave, and then 10 minutes later, drove by another hotel in the same chain.

I too was highly disappointed, and it's not a good situation.

I do think that in cases where they are unable to process check-ins, hotels should make arrangements for other guests, at the same or a lower room rate. If that means they have to pony up some cash, then that's what they need to do.
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Old May 2, 13, 2:27 pm
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Originally Posted by kipper View Post
I do think that in cases where they are unable to process check-ins, hotels should make arrangements for other guests, at the same or a lower room rate. If that means they have to pony up some cash, then that's what they need to do.
That actually sounds like a fair fix. You help the guest find something, and you make sure the guest doesn't suffer any added cost as a result. Even if you don't comp the alternate room, which you would with a normal walk. I like that answer.

Too bad Wyndham corporate backed their hotel on this one.

Last edited by milestraveler; Jan 6, 14 at 7:55 pm Reason: typo
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Old Jan 6, 14, 8:01 pm
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When this first came up, I kept thinking "power outages happen; perhaps not everyday, but often enough that you should have a reasonable contingency plan in place".

View From the Wing just posted a trip report that offers an example of doing this right in a place where power outages happen more often.

http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew...e-hyatt-world/

"The hotel, being in Chennai, occasionally loses power. And by occasionally I mean somewhere between every other day and twice a day. When that happens you just wait a few seconds and the hotel’s in-house generators kick in. There’s even a sign in the elevator telling you this is normal. ... The power outage never did last even 30 seconds at a time."

Last edited by milestraveler; Aug 7, 16 at 11:27 am
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Old Jan 3, 15, 5:39 am
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Originally Posted by milestraveler View Post
When this first came up, I kept thinking "power outages happen; perhaps not everyday, but often enough that you should have a reasonable contingency plan in place".

View From the Wing just posted a trip report that offers an example of doing this right in a place where power outages happen more often.

http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew...e-hyatt-world/

"The hotel, being in Chennai, occasionally loses power. And by occasionally I mean somewhere between every other day and twice a day. When that happens you just wait a few seconds and the hotelís in-hour generators kick in. Thereís even a sign in the elevator telling you this is normal. ... The power outage never did last even 30 seconds at a time."
All hotel property management systems and networking equipment is on a UPS. That's been a standard in the industry since the 1990s.

However, now that a lot of the systems are 'in the cloud', it's not just lack of power that can kill the system, but Internet too. And Internet problems somewhere down the line can be just as bad as a problem at the property itself. And unfortunately, the geniuses who created this single-point-of-failure IT infrastructure have ZERO to say about backup or failover plans when things go wrong.

India is a different place. Even my in-laws place has a whole house back up UPS since the power goes out so much, with instant cutover. So these systems are common and cheaper in places like India. The same systems here in the western world cost a lot more, are regulated more rigorously, and are built to be even more bullet-proof. But it's also why you only see them at large office complexes and hospitals.

I think the solution to the problem of power loss for a hotel is two-fold. One, the property has to have properly working UPS systems on their property management system, key encoder, and networking equipment including the Internet gateway device. Second, each hotel brand needs to make their property management systems able to operate autonomously at the property level in case they are disconnected from the 'mother ship'. This way, it's business as usual except for centrally made reservations, which can be sent via an alternate method (like this ancient outdated method called a PHONE CALL--yes, we're paying you franchisors hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, so call us when we have problems like this rather than turning your backs to us). Once the power is restored, the system should also be able to automatically and correctly sync all the data, so that duplicate reservations, check-ins and the like are eliminated.

This is all easily done with current technology. It's nothing new, it's just not being done--at least at Wyndham properties. And mainly because of number 2. Most properties already have UPSs in place for number 1.
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