Thursday, August 10, 2017

Don't tease me; answer your email

I'll never understand why businesses -- particularly those in the hospitality industry -- provide an email address as an option for contacting them, but then apparently never check that mailbox. That lack of responsiveness certainly costs them business.

Here's my story.

After booking the flights for a trip to the Netherlands and London, I used the bonus points from one of my credit cards to book a stay at a hotel in Amsterdam which shall remain nameless.

Because I needed more information than the credit card company's booking site provided, I went to the hotel's web site. I found a contact e-dress and sent an email to the hotel's "Information" mailbox at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday (4:00 p.m. in the Netherlands), asking whether the hotel had an airport shuttle or, if they did not, what method of transport they would recommend from Schiphol Airport (AMS).

Having heard nothing on Friday, I sent a follow-up email on Saturday at 2:34 p.m. EDT (8:34 p.m. Amsterdam time). Because it was a Saturday night, I wasn't expecting an immediate response; Monday would have been fine.

However, as of 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, September 28 (5:00 p.m. in the Netherlands), I still had not received a reply.

During this same time period, I exchanged three emails with Seven Bridges Hotel, an establishment highly recommended by members of TripAdvisor. Its people responded quite promptly.

I also exchanged two emails with Fusion Suites, another hotel I was considering. Despite it being the weekend, the same gentleman responded to both emails -- once at 1:20 p.m.and once at 4:20 a.m. Amsterdam time (does the man NEVER sleep?). Both these hotels obviously understand what good service is all about. That is quite likely why neither had space available for the dates of my stay.

Amsterdam's Park Hotel
Anticipating continued non-response from The Hotel Which Shall Not Be Named, I sent an email to The Park Hotel, an establishment that had been recommended by a friend (photo of entrance at right). My 7:45 a.m. email was answered by 9:00 a.m. Follow-up emails were answered just as promptly.

I ultimately stayed at The Park Hotel; the hotel I had originally booked lost my business because they were unresponsive.

Call me a curmudgeon if you wish, but I believe the "little things" are excellent indications of how the bigger things will play out.

Imagine a business that publishes a telephone number, yet never answers its phone. I suspect it would find its business quickly falling off.

It's the same with electronic communications. If a hotel can't be bothered to respond to emails over the course of two business days (not counting Thursday, when it was late in the day, or the weekend), I can't be bothered to stay with them.

That is a facet of engaging electronically that, surprisingly, many businesses don't seem to fully grasp. Publishing an email address, Twitter handle, whatever, isn't enough; you actually have to be responsive.

Responding to emails and engaging on social media platforms takes time and effort, and that comes at a cost. If a business doesn't have the time or personnel to devote to answering emails and responding to social media, then don't offer those platforms as alternatives. Far better to be thought a bit behind the times than to be thought of as unresponsive.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo by Carl Dombek
Click on photo to view larger image

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