David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Can You Hear Me? – June 2023
If I thought about it for long enough I could probably recite Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish from memory. The illustration and excerpt from that book above is what comes to mind about the state of business travel today. Specifically, try calling someone in the travel and hospitality industry and you’ll likely be disappointed.
These were the most routine of calls in the past, but for the last few years you can no longer get through to the local location.
“Hey hotel – I’m going to be there at 8am tomorrow. Can you see if there might be a room available that I can change and wash-up in? I’ll pay for the extra night if I have to.”
“Hey car-rental counter – my flight looks like it will be delayed, can you make sure you wait for me before closing-up for the night?”
“Hey front-desk, where can guests in your hotel go to see the parade / fireworks / random event that’s happening next week?”
All simple harmless questions that show one to be a planner…someone who tries to make sure they’re as prepared as possible. Nowadays they are impossible to complete because you can’t reach the local property…ever.
Don’t believe me? Try to call the Rio Suites hotel in Las Vegas and speak with someone at the front desk. Their number is (702) 777-7777. (Go ahead, I’ll wait here.) See? It’s impossible to reach anyone that’s actually working at the check-in/out desk. We wanted to know if the garage roof would be available to watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks show from. It turned out to be, but we could never reach anyone in advance to ask.
That’s not enough for you? Try calling the Avis Rental Car counter at Greensboro airport. Their number is 336-665-5700 – and just to show you I’m a sporting guy, I’ll already tell you the option to ring the rental counter is #6. (Go ahead, I’ll wait again.) Our flight there is/was (depending on when you read this) scheduled to land at 11:30pm and they close at 12. We wanted to make sure they’d wait till we retrieved our gate-checked bags and not close before we could get our car. Callers get transferred, it rings three times, then we get transferred again to the Avis call center which I assume is somewhere in South America from the accents. You can’t ever get through to the local counter.
Want one more? OK, try calling the Doubletree in Toronto near the airport and tell the front desk you’ll be arriving early or running late. The number is 905-624-1144. Again here, you’ll be able to reach their shuttle driver or the central reservations number, but not anyone at the property.
Whether you’re outside a property and want to ask a question or coordinate an issue, or even in many cases inside a hotel property and want to reach someone by phone, you’ll find the cutbacks have been so drastic that it’s almost impossible.
In all these cases it wasn’t Dr. Seuss’ mouse that cut the wire, it was some greedy bean counter trying to squeeze more profit out of what is supposed to be an industry that provides excellent service. Here again, they’ve gone too far. I’d tell you to call them and complain, but it’s probably a waste of time. Try tweeting them instead, stunningly you’ll probably get a quicker response. I suppose I’m just an old fish in a bowl of new fish…..
I had another exasperating experience with the TSA at Newark airport last week. This one was over the top and caused me to file an official complaint. You can read the thread (typos and all) here, but the bottom line is the TSA has to get this location in line with all the others in the USA. Either all TSA pre-check locations need to strip-search all carry-on baggage or none of them do. It can’t be a different set of guidelines in one airport than others. If we don’t fix this then we’re risking another 9/11 style approach where terrorists will enter the secure side of airports through the most lax location (which was Boston’s Logan back then) and just connect-through behind security at the airport where they want to attack from. This is serious. The TSA needs to develop consistency, and hopefully in the process weed-out the confrontational and belligerent agents. I live in New Jersey and I’m embarrassed for our state when people get their first impression of us by how the TSA shamefully behaves here as they try to pass through security.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.
Copyright 2023 David Danto
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