Febreze was the hotel’s answer to my request for a non-smoking room. Really?


I was relieved to finally be at my hotel.  It was my second business trip in a week, and I’d just spent several hours stuck in the Chicago O’Hare airport because of a winter storm. The front desk told me I had a newly remodeled room with a river view.  That’s just perfect after a day like today.

I got to my room and inserted my key into the door. The second the door opens, I am overpowered by the smell of cigarette smoke. Lots of it. Clearly, there is a mistake. I always tell my clients to reserve a non-smoking room for me.  Immediately, I pick up the phone to call down to the front desk.

Me: “This is Myra Golden in room 711. My room has a heavy odor of cigarette smoke. Can I please be moved to a non-smoking room?”

Front desk: “All of our rooms are non-smoking.”

And then she just sits there on the phone, saying nothing.

Me: “Very clearly someone has been smoking in this room. Can I please be moved to a non-smoking room?”

Front desk: “Ma’am. All of our rooms are non-smoking.” {Much attitude in her tone}

Me: “My room smells of smoke. I need to be moved to another room.”

Front desk: “We don’t have any other rooms. Would you like me to have Febreze sent up to your room?”

This is so ridiculous that I can’t even professionally express the thoughts I had. It ended with someone walking up and handing me a bottle of Febreze. It’s not the fault of the hotel that a guest broke the rules and smoked in room 711. But, when housekeeping cleaned the room after the smoker checked out, they had a responsibility of informing management of the odor and taking all possible steps to rid the room of cigarette smoke. There are ways to air out a room of smoke, like bringing in an ozone machine. Hotels have those on hand.

Even if housekeeping chose not to proactively rid room 711 of smoke, the front desk could have handled my request better. Perhaps an apology. How about empathy? Why not look to see if you have another room? An offer to pay for my room at a competing hotel would have been nice. But, the front desk let me down miserably.

Your Take-Away

Consider the poor experience I had here and think about what you would have done differently if you were the hotel’s general manager. (I’d start by having housekeeping immediately report smoking odors so action could be taken and then I’d train the front desk on how to handle complaints.) What lesson from my experience can you learn and apply so that you don’t let your customers down like this?

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