The Joule Hotel- Dallas, TX and the Anatomy of Suite Upgrade Shenanigans
I stayed at the Joule Hotel in Dallas, Texas this October for a wedding weekend. The hotel, a part of Starwood's Luxury Collection, gets pretty solid reviews on Flyertalk and other hotel rating sites, so I was excited for my stay. The hotel is also knwon to offer solid upgrades to Starwood Platinum Guests, so I was hoping for the best.
When I arrived, the check-in agent quickly told me the hotel was 100% sold out, so no upgrades or nicer rooms could be given. She assured me every room was great and started hard selling the facilities, including the night-club. She even said "well since there are no upgrades, as a Platinum member I'll put you on the list for the club!"
"Thanks, but no thanks".
I'm not one to normally cause a scene when I don't get upgraded, I fully understand that a hotel's main prioritiy is to make money. However, under Starwood's loyalty program, Platinum guests are entitled to an upgrade to a select standard suite when they are available at check-in. This is a key reason why I stayed over 50 nights in Starwood hotels this year.
When I got to my room, I decided to pull up Starwood.com and see if the hotel was indeed "100% sold out". To my surprise, there were a number of different room types, including select standard suites, still available for sale for the weekend.
A little ticked off that I was "misled", I ended up calling the front desk agent and giving her the heads up that the hotel wasn't really sold out and asked her to check again for an upgrade. She seemed shocked that I actually called her out and told me her manager would look into it and call me back.
About 30 minutes later, the manager calls and offers me a suite upgrade and apologizes for the "confusion." A bellman is immeditately sent to the room and I move to the "sold out" suite, which was nice, per the pictures. That evening, I came home to a decent bottle of champagne and an apology note from the manager, which was a nice touch.
Overall, the rest of the trip was great. The hotel is centrally located and within walking distance of major restaurants, bars and of course, Neiman Marcus. The hotel did seem very busy that weekend and we even ran into actor/singer Alan Cumming in the elevator.
Moral of the story? Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Just like I wrote about yesterday with weather related re-booking tips, so many customer service agent's top priority is to get you out of their face as quickly as possible. While unfortunate, its a fact of life and you need to stick up for yourself sometimes to get what you want. Crass? Possibly. Effective? Absolutely.