Something went terribly wrong with Mr. Cohn's Thanksgiving visit to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. His car was smashed up badly while in the care of the valet service.
Now it's more than 6 weeks later and the matter has not yet been resolved. Mr. Cohn's patience is wearing thin, and because of this hotel's missteps, Mr. Cohn has become more vocal on social media...
That's embarrassing... especially for such a fine hotel as The Biltmore.
So... why did it come to this?
Probably the hotel is relying on the outsourced valet company to handle it. But in this type of situation, it's really a mistake for a venue to consider it not their problem, because now it's definitely their problem. The customer has over 1200 followers just on Twitter. Yikes! And now there is a photo of this wrecked car on the Biltmore's Yelp page.
There is plenty more potential for reputation damage too. The hotel has allowed this to morph into a lose/lose situation.
Instead of it coming to this, the hotel could have turned it into a marketing event.
They could have gone over-the-top in "making it right."
They could have wowed this customer and turned him into an advocate instead of an enemy.
They could have created some really interesting, highly share-able content that showed people that if something goes wrong, this hotel goes bonkers to fix it.
And this story could have reached a lot of eye balls. It was a major publicity opportunity FOR THE HOTEL.
Instead, an opportunity to shine has been squandered, and the customer continues to suffer from the choice he made to patronize this business.
The Biltmore Hotel has a dynamite video on their website which begins with the words "The Biltmore Experience." The imagery is incredible. The music is uplifting. Wow...
But people do a lot of research when they are looking at hotels. It doesn't help that a guest of their's had his car severely damaged by their valets and has resorted to peppering the internet with negative comments about the lack of action and care he has received because of it.
A lot of times, providers of valet services stall and dodge when it comes to taking financial responsibility for the mistakes their employees made. This is the typical, ordinary way. It's not a good policy to follow when everybody is a reporter.
If you have a substantial venue that offers valet parking services, why not create an action plan for your next valet parking fiasco? Bring in a marketing agency. Dream up something extraordinary... for just in case! If a valet decides to get some smash-up derby experience with a customer's car, bring out the win/win solution. See what happens.
Crazy idea? Why not be different?