As a frequent hotel guest, I have a greater than normal sample size of hotel interactions, so I feel statistically justified in saying that the hospitality industry across the board needs to step it up. There are individual properties that are great, but on the whole, it seems most chains/their main numbers/etc are lacking in getting the little things right.
Some recent examples:
Issue #1 – Poor Customer Care Database
For the last two years, all my hotel rewards have been focused on one particular chain. My usual hotel in Dearborn is affiliated and as a result, I’ve stayed 57 nights with them in 2012. 57 nights! Imagine my surprise when two weeks ago I called the Gold Customer Service number and was asked if I’d ever stayed with them before. Why yes, yes I have! In fact, I’ve stayed with you 57 times before (maybe only 49 at the time of the incident) and I gave you my rewards number twice on this call already.
When I log into my account for your rewards program, it pops up with my last four stays — all at the hotel I’m trying to rebook on the phone. What does your computer screen look like, Gold Customer Care rep?
What kills me is I know the technology exists and I know some companies have access to it, so why the third largest hotel chain in the world doesn’t is particularly frustrating. Similarly, if I have now informed you I’ve spent 57 nights at a property in 2012 alone, that means I don’t need a 7 minute update on the property amenities.
Issue #2 – Stupid Policies
This week I had to cancel a hotel the day before check in. I called twice and was put on hold both times for over 10 minutes. I called again at 7:30 PM Eastern and was informed that the reservations desk was closed for the night. I called twice the next morning (put on hold for 15 minutes the first time), and finally got through. At this point, I was told I had to pay for the night in full because I hadn’t canceled the day before. When I asked for an exception because I couldn’t get through the day before, I was informed by the Reservations woman at the Tribeca Grand that that was not possible. It was up to me to get through and not up to them to answer their phones.
There are some beacons on the hill though. I continue to adore Delta because they get it right 95% of the time (and their cracker jack squad found and returned my laptop when I *responsibly* left it on the plane) and I do love Kimpton so… everybody else, pick up your copies of Danny Meyer’s “Setting the Table” and try again!
Links of the week: start-up generator, Game of Thrones viewer experience, coping with distractions/bad days, and more…
Technically a blend of pictures and links; regardless, here’s what I loved this week:
- The venn diagram of my to do list courtesy of swissmiss:
- BuzzFeed’s 13 Simple Steps to Get Through A Rough Day came on a day when I was whining a lot, so, well-played BuzzFeed!
- It’s like SkillShare meets someecards! OBSESSED with this “WTF is my startup pitch?” auto-generator.
- Lifehacker offered great tips on focusing at work. I bookmarked this one.
- The Game of Thrones viewer experience (hat tip @AWElliott)
This is the first in what will be a very valuable series to KU Says readers with tips for succeeding on various reality television programs. With “Chopped All Stars” premiering on Sunday, it seemed appropriate to kick this off with with “Chopped,” a.k.a. the greatest food competition program involving multiple surprise ingredients since “Ready, Set, Cook” with Sissy Biggers.
Since J and I are devoted “Chopped” viewers, here are some tips we prepared if you don’t want Ted giving you the knife.
You’re supposedly a professional (except for that lobster roll delivery dude). Get the basics right.
- Cook your protein correctly, above all else. Here’s the thing: if three people screw up, the guy who got a nice sear with a medium rare temperature is definitely making it through.
- Don’t leave in bones, strings, cartilage, or anything else inedible. That’s just amateur hour and this is usually where the home cooks/caterers/private chefs who specialize in “kosher locavore dining” fail.
- Don’t forget your sauce. It cures dryness, pulls multiple components together, shows your personal style, and allows you to mask an ingredient you didn’t understand how to use properly.
- You should know how to budget time for: starches (rice, pasta, risotto, potatoes), protein (see #1), and baked goods. Poorly cooked rice is a common competitive food show enemy; unless it’s in the basket, we recommend staying away.
Embrace what Chopped stands for: creativity and resourcefulness.
- If it’s in the basket; it must be transformed. We know you didn’t know what to do with those corn chips, but crumbling them and sprinkling on the side isn’t incorporating them into the dish. If you didn’t fool us, you’re not fooling Zakarian. I mean, the man’s basically one step away from God (did you see him get a perfect score on “Iron Chef America?” Does that even happen?)
- No clue what an ingredient is? Regardless of round, you can probably put it in a blender.Other tips:
- Appetizer round: use for vinaigrette or chop into salad
- Entree round: gastrique that bitch*
- Dessert round: blend with Marscarpone
We know you’re not a pastry chef, but go out with a bang.
- Your dessert needs to be a dessert (not breakfast, all ye French toast offenders), but it can’t be too sweet. None of the judges like that (except sometimes Aaron Sanchez).
- If you think you can make an ice cream, do it. A good ice cream pretty much always wins this round. That said, if you think you’re going to make an ice cream, get to the machine first. I shouldn’t have to tell you that if you lose that machine, you’ll be stuck trying to make a last minute parfait and hoping the deep freezer works faster (spoiler: it never does).
- Don’t bake anything, it will not be done in time (unless you’re a baker and they’re looking for that from you). If you are able to bake successfully, by all means do, and feel free to offer a touching story about how the recipe for that crisp came from your blind grandmother who you’d like to use the proceeds from winning to visit.
Seriously, this is television, be presentable.
- Plate before the 1 minute mark and don’t use a ring mold if what you have won’t set, it will ultimately look like dog food. There’s very little you can cook in under 60 sec and the judges reward strong presentation.
- Don’t contaminate your food by double dipping/tasting. The judges who need to eat that food are maybe 12 feet away… what’s wrong with you???
Additional personal pet peeves:
- J doesn’t like people who cut themselves and bleed nor does he like people who are a**holes.
- K doesn’t like people who tell long stories about how they want to win for their [insert sob story]-afflicted family. It’s called Chopped not Make A Wish.
*K believes that gastrique is to Chopped as sous-vide is to Top Chef. Discuss.
Here’s what you need to know (admittedly two days late, but whatevs):
- Deandre didn’t deserve to go home… because he didn’t deserve to be on the show in the first place.
- Hollie is the Tracy Flick of American Idol.
- Was Colton Dixon’s bass player a time traveling Randy Jackson? Also, I’m surprised his hair has lasted given that Skylar seems like the type to get rid of skunks that are lying around.
- Skylar is super talented… AND she gets the country vote from middle America. In a perfect world, final four will be her, Double Philip, Joshua, and J-Sanch. But because 11 year old girls are more powerful than they should be, Colton will probs take Joshua’s place.
- This was the best performance of the night BY A MILE and potentially the season (although I still love “When A Man Loves A Woman”):
What they should really tell elementary school kids who place in the 99th percentile when they take standardized tests isn’t “hey, you’re super smart, congrats, and we’re going to put you in harder math classes,” but rather “hey, 99% of the people you encounter for the rest of your life will be dumber than you. And they’ll make you miserable.”
In the last two days, I’ve had charming encounters with, what I can only assume were ERB/SAT/ACT bottom-feeders, that I feel the need to share in the hopes that maybe someone at each of these two institutions has working Google Alerts and decides to make a change:
Multiple Offenders: Registration/Security/Lost & Found at the Javits Center
One of the perks of my job is the chance to attend Press Days at Auto Shows (something I didn’t know was a perk until recently, but actually really enjoy). Yesterday, at the opening day of the NY Auto Show, I stopped to use the rest room and found a woman had left her Blackberry in the bathroom. I first checked her address book to see if she had another number listed and couldn’t find one and then emailed her to tell her I’d found her Blackberry in the bathroom and would get it to Javits lost and found. Here’s what then happened:
- I took the Blackberry to Registration on the first floor and asked if they could get it to the Lost & Found. They said no and I had to take to Security on the fourth floor/other side of the convention center.
- I went up to the Security office and they told me that I had to take the Blackberry to Lost & Found myself which was apparently located on the second floor.
- I go back down to the Lost & Found and can’t find it in the location I was told it’s in. I ask a Security guard on that floor and he tells me to go back to Security but says that Security is on the first floor.
- No one on the first floor knows where this Security office is and they try to send me back to four. At which point I audibly sigh and walk away.
- Now over 30 minutes have passed and I’m debating: how do I return this Blackberry to Sonia, its owner, but also get on with my life when I literally have no one to whom to give it?
- So I returned it to where I found it and emailed her telling her thats where it was.
But seriously, Javits, what’s wrong with your team? I bet 200 cell phones are lost during the first week of the NY Auto Show, surely there’s a procedure. Out of the seven people I dealt with, not one person knew how to handle a lost item. I think your staff FAQs need some major updating.
Second Offender: Casa Nonna Delivery Boy
Background needed for anecdote below: I live in a standard apartment building with a 24-hour front desk and elevators. I can’t stress how normal/standard my living situation is.
I returned this evening from four days of travel to an empty fridge and ordered take out from Casa Nonna, an overpriced, generally mediocre Italian restaurant that just happens to have an out of this world pasta called “Stracci di Manzo” — flat pasta in a braised short rib/tomato sauce. Thanks to Seamless.com, my meal was to arrive in 30-45 min and at the 30 min mark exactly, received a phone call from the delivery guy:
DG: I’m downstairs.
KU: Great, you can come up, it’s apartment [redacted]
Pretty clear exchange. If you were me, you’d probably expect… a delivery guy to show up at your door, right? 10 minutes later, no one’s here so I call my front desk and ask if they’ve seen the delivery guy, they say no and I see the delivery guy on call waiting. The following exchange occurs:
KU: Hi, where are you?
DG: I’m downstairs.
KU: Great, please come up. It’s apartment [redacted].
DG: I don’t know how.
KU: You just come in the building and take the elevator up, what are you talking about.
DG: I’m confused.
KU: Are you telling me you don’t know how to come upstairs? I don’t understand. Are you at the right building?
DG: I don’t know. You come downstairs.
With that, I went downstairs and Tony at the front desk pointed out the window at the delivery guy going “I don’t know what’s wrong with him.” I got my food and the delivery guy shrugged and said “Very confusing” and walked away.
I actually think this might be helpful evidence to Creationists, because even monkeys are smarter than that guy.
Today, my beloved MoPo and I are headed to Eisenberg’s Deli for lunch for the greatest egg salad in the world. I get mine on toasted rye with extra crispy bacon (no lettuce/tomato/onion) AND a chocolate egg cream.
If you haven’t been to Eisenberg’s (and if you like egg salad, that’s a travesty), then you should absolutely buckle up and enjoy this adorable mini-doc about the 83-year old diner.
Just last weekend in DC, I went to We The Pizza, and also ordered an egg cream only to have the woman at the counter whisper “are you sure you want this? Do you know that it’s not a cream soda?”
Not that I needed further proof in New York’s supremacy, but that was pretty much the nail in the coffin.
A while back on Unterekless, a popular feature (or maybe just frequently praised by Eric) was Japanarama Mondays. Normally it featured weird vending machines, adults in diapers, or photos of Meat Trucks taken by (then) Unmarried Brother. Which brings me to another update: Unmarried Brother will now be Tokyo Brother and, I suppose, Married Brother will now be El Paso Brother.
I digress, the point is, these photos capture a beauty and exoticism in Japan and I’m obsessed. Watch the entire slideshow here, but know that this one touched me particularly as I remember wandering these alleys while in Japan for Tokyo Brother’s wedding and being completely captivated. It always got me excited for dinner… even though nine times out of ten we were headed for food I didn’t want to eat… but the tenth time, Tokyo Brother found me Yakitori. Mmmmm various fried chicken parts — from wing to heart…
Clever words delivered rapidly by men who combine good looks and intelligence in proportions that never meet in real life mean I’m always on board. I’ve basically been counting down to “The Newsroom” on HBO since The West Wing got bad (read: Season 6) and Sean Parker took Zucks to Nobu in “The Social Network.”
Here’s the trailer so you too can salivate: