By Steve Moran

After the Senior Living Innovation Forum was over this past May in Napa Valley, California, I had a few other people I wanted to see in the area. I booked a room at the DoubleTree (a Hilton property) in Rohnert Park, north of San Francisco, for one night. Booked it through the Hilton website, and it was a nothing special — king-size bed on the second floor for one night that rounded out at about $200.

I had been under the weather so immediately stripped to boxer shorts, laid down, and took a nap. When I woke, I walked over to the window to see this view:

I noticed when I came in that the door to that room was not labeled, so I assume it is used for storage or something. But it meant that someone could have just come over and stared through the window at me sleeping (not that it would have been a particularly pleasant view).

I tried calling the front desk, except the house phone didn’t work. Then I called on my cellphone. They were clueless as to what I was complaining about. It took serious pushing to get a new room, and when I went to the front desk and showed them the photo, their immediate explanation was that it was a guest room. (It wasn’t.)

After grudgingly giving me a new room, they offered nothing more. I was tired, under the weather, and ticked off, but kept my mouth shut.


The front desk people — there were two of them — handled this nearly as bad as they could have. But after some consideration, I realized it actually was not their fault. They had not been trained well enough to even know a room like this existed. They had not been trained on how to do any service recovery at all.

I actually believe they were doing the best they could in what was to them an impossible situation.

The Fault Of …

This is the fault of the general manager or the regional manager above that person. They failed these frontline team members by not giving them the skills, knowledge, and discretion they needed to handle this well.

My grumping to them was not off the charts, but I promise it was not pleasant either. They should not have been subjected to my frustration, and they would not have been if they had been trained properly. First, I would never have been given that room, and second, if I had gotten the room, they would have apologized, explained how the computer worked, given me a new room, upgraded, and/or offered a free meal, extra Hilton points, a free drink, or something.

Next time one of your team members does something boneheaded, it is critical to ask what role their leadership played in setting them up for failure.