I was in a main hotel chain in Ocala last weekend. I will not mention which one, but many use this brand when they go on “holiday.” I don’t know if this brand has franchises, or corporately owned, but it had the absolute worst service. The funny thing – they have excellent ocala marketing. Before I buy a product, a service, or anything I do a Google search. This hotel ranks high in Google for the search term Ocala Hotel – #1 or #2. Once I find a high ranking product I then check the reviews. Now with hotels, of course you can use hotels.com, priceline, or yelp to get an all about review, however, these sites have seen a plague of fake reviews. I do use those sites to book a hotel room, especially since they help get the price down. However, when it comes to reviews, I trust Google reviews. Their Google reviews stand at 4.5 or better and Priceline had the price at less than $50/night, so I thought I found a hidden gem.
The Problems Start
The problems first happened when I arrived to check in. No one and I mean no one stood at the front desk. I saw no bell in sight to ring. I said, “Hello,” a few times to no reply. After 10 minutes I started to shout, “Hello!” with no response. No other guests or patrons entered the lobby, I stood there all by my lonesome. So I started to walk around the empty hotel. About 10 minutes later, I stumbled upon a maid cleaning a room. She couldn’t speak much english, but I was able to get her to understand that I’m trying to check in. With a quick Spanish message over a walkie talkie she pointed for me to go back to the lobby.
I walked back and finally someone greeted me – friendly, smiling young woman – the only upside to this stay. Melanie checked me in quickly and apologized for having to wait. With her cool response I got over my irritation pretty quick.
The Room Nightmare
When I got to my room, the first thing I noticed was the smell, a very distinct mold smell. The bed had not been made, and towels lay strewn over the bathroom floor. I made a call to the front desk which rang 12 times before answering. Melanie did not answer, but Jerome did. Jerome to say it politely was not good at customer service. I requested a new room which he replied that no room were available. I knew this hotel to only be 30% booked, so they could have easily transferred me to a new room. I thought about having the room cleaned, but at this point I felt fed up. I requested to have my money refunded and I would stay somewhere else, Jerome refused. I knew I could have gotten into a big argument and forced the refund, but I simply called my credit card company and told them I didn’t approve the charge.
Peace of Mind
I didn’t use Google to find my new hotel. Instead I used word of mouth. I stopped to have lunch and asked my waitress a good hotel. She pointed me in the direction of a very nice, but small bed and breakfast. It was charming and it felt good to stay there. I had to pay a little more than I wanted, but it worked out nicely. When I got home, I looked up the bed and breakfast and couldn’t find them in google. I wanted to leave them a very nice review, but they could not be found. I don’t even know if they had a website. I felt bad because in this day and age if you don’t have a website and you don’t incorporate search engine optimization you will be out of business within the next few years. I called them and told them they need to contact Seek Easy Marketing to help them get found. Places like that should rule the market, not these big chains that have hordes of money going to marketing, but they don’t invest in customer service.
If you need help getting a leg up in the market, give Seek Easy a call: