Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dude, Where's My Hotel?

I was writing a blog, previewing Download 2013. I wrote all about my drama in the last 10 or so days about my hotel booking and decided I would preview the festival in a separate blog. This is the story of how Travelodge almost ruined my trip to Download 2013. The key word there is almost. My plans for the festival almost took an almighty boot to the face. In September last year, I booked a Travelodge room at the Derby Kingsway Retail Park Travelodge for the weekend of Download. My reasoning for wanting to do this is simple – the weather at Download 2012 was pretty horrible, and the effect of the weather made walking around the site a challenge. I left Download unable to walk properly and suffered for nearly a week afterwards. I wanted to go to Download again as they announced bands I was interested in seeing but I did not fancy camping there again. I’ve heard from several people that I’d be missing out by staying in a hotel and not camping but for me, a festival is about music. The campsite atmosphere can be fun, but you can recreate that by going camping with friends.

Anyway, I received an email just over a week ago informing me that the hotel I was due to stay in between 13-17th June 2013 was going to be closed on May 21st 2013. You never want to read that. The initial email I received said I could have my booking transferred to another Derby Travelodge or any other Travelodge that was available. I requested to be moved to the Travelodge in Derby closer to the train station (I opted against it in September as the one I booked was significantly cheaper) and did a private check of its availability (it was available for all 4 nights). I sent the email and aside from occasional thoughts hoping everything went okay with the transfer, thought nothing of it. That email was sent to me on Thursday 9th May and I responded the same day. On Monday 13th May, I got their reply which wasn’t good news. They emailed me to inform me all rooms for that weekend in Derby were full and offered me Burton upon Trent Central Travelodge. After a quick check of the travel situation to Burton, I emailed them back informing them this would not be good as after 23.30 on a Friday/Saturday, you can’t get back to Burton.

I really didn’t know what to do at this stage. The option I did not want to do was take a refund as that would have meant me telling my friend Paul (who was sharing the room with me) that he wasn’t going to Download (he had essentially told me this was the case). What a refund would have meant for me is that I would have had to camp at the festival by myself – a prospect I did not find appealing at all (despite planning to do that at Wacken this year. Hmm...) Getting back to the point, I sent them the email asking for more options on the Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, I had not received a reply and was feeling very stressed. I sent Travelodge another email because it was at this point I discovered they do not have a customer service phone number. I copied my last email in on the new one and stressed I needed a reply and also gave them my phone number (hoping that might speed things up).

The next day on the Thursday, I left work early as I was feeling unwell (I’m not sure if it was linked to the stress caused by this situation, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was). On the Thursday afternoon I received a reply, not only containing another unsuitable option, but a new email address which would mean my problem could be dealt with quicker. I replied to that email saying the new option was not something I could accept and asked for a refund. I had accepted defeat at this point and was all ready to make the phone call to Ticketmaster asking them how to change my ticket type when my phone rang. 

On the other end of the phone, it was the person from Travelodge who had emailed me the new email address. They once again offered me the Burton upon Trent Travelodge with the promise they would pay for taxis to and from the festival each day. In one simple motion, I went from very anti-Travelodge to them winning me back over. I said I would email them to confirm times I’d require for taxis (which I did almost immediately) and got another email back informing me that me and Paul would have separate rooms at the hotel as that is all they had left and that the taxis were booked and paid for. I was really blown away by the fact they went above and beyond for me in solving this issue. The only thing I’d request is that they answer their email a bit quicker! In conclusion, Travelodge have kept me as a customer which is something I really didn’t think I’d say. I do think they need a customer service phone number, but on reflection (now that I am not clouded by stress), I can see why they don't. I considered the tone of my emails to be very polite and cordial. I suspect some people who have issues with their hotel booking might fly off the handle at someone who isn't to blame. Anyway, thanks to Travelodge and whoever is responsible for sorting my issue out, I am grateful. Because of them,. I am able to type the next blog which is a Download 2013 preview. 

The title of this blog is (you will be shocked to learn) inspired by the very silly (but funny) film Dude, Where's My Car? (I really had nothing else, don't judge me!)

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