La Quinta Inns & Suites — didn't honor long-standing reservations
Le Ann Wilson
907 Miles Avenue
Orofino, ID 83544
October 5, 2009
La Quinta Inns & Suites, Moscow
Jason J. Penkacik, General Manager
185 Warbonnet Drive
Moscow, ID 83843
Dear Mr. Penkacik:
On September 3, 2009, I made online hotel reservations for two Executive rooms, both with two queen-sized beds, at the La Quinta Inns & Suites, Moscow. The cost of rooms (defined as average rate) was $179.00, each. The “average” rate, by the way, must refer to the average rate for an overnight stay during a University of Idaho home football game weekend, as the La Quinta website currently indicates that the cost of a similar room is normally $89.00. The confirmation number for Room #1 was [protected]; the confirmation number for the second room was [protected]. The trip number was [protected]. I booked both rooms for one night, Saturday, October 3, 2009, and I guaranteed the reservation with an American Express card ending in 1013. Shortly after I’d completed the online reservation, I contacted the Moscow La Quinta Inn at [protected] to confirm the date and accommodations. I also received an email confirmation of my reservations.
One month later, on Friday, October 2, I once again contacted La Quinta Inn & Suites, Moscow, to make a final confirmation of our reservation and to provide an estimated time of arrival; 5:00 p.m. I was assured that both rooms would be waiting when my traveling companions and I got there the following afternoon.
On Saturday, October 3, the day of our much-anticipated stay at the La Quinta Inn, my husband, Stewart Wilson, and I transported nine, tenth-grade boys – members of Orofino High School’s top-notch Knowledge Bowl Team – from Orofino to Moscow, a distance of 80 miles, one way. Several of the students were fresh from a hard-fought soccer match. They were cold, damp, hungry and tired and looking forward to “crashing” once we arrived at the La Quinta Inn. Our plan was to allow the boys to relax for an hour or so before treating them to dinner and encouraging them to, later, take advantage of the La Quinta Inn’s indoor pool. We’d also made reservations to celebrate the team’s stellar success by spending part of the following day, Sunday, October 4, at Moscow’s Bumpers III Fun Center, located at 1884 Pullman Road, Moscow, not far from the hotel. I’d agreed to purchase a party package for $89.99 that would have covered the cost of the boys’ entertainment, including lunch and soft drinks. The boys were also looking forward to visiting the Palouse Mall.
Because of high, gusty winds and stormy weather, the trip from Orofino to Moscow took a little longer than usual, almost two hours, but we did arrive shortly after 5:00 p.m. The boys were relieved when we, at long last, made it to the La Quinta Inn. They gathered up their bags and backpacks and quickly scrambled out of the weather and into the warm, comfortable La Quinta Inn lobby. My husband and I brought up the rear, happy to finally reach our destination.
When I entered the lobby, the look on the front desk attendant’s face said it all; an alarming mix of dread and embarrassment. I approached the counter, gave her my name and told her that I’d reserved two rooms for that evening. She immediately began to apologize, saying that only one room was available and that the second room was occupied by “holdover guests.” This was the first time – ever -that I’d heard the term “holdover guests”, so I asked the front desk attendant to explain. She told me that the guests who’d stayed in one of our reserved (note the emphasis on “reserved”) rooms the previous night had refused to leave and since the hotel had already accepted payment (why???) for that night’s stay, the La Quinta Inn staff was powerless to make them leave. The front desk attendant, though, was eager to inform me that a staff member had taken the liberty of making reservations for us at a hotel in Colfax, Washington, a small, sleepy farming community located 20 miles west of Moscow. I most certainly did not consider this to be an acceptable alternative; not even close.
At this juncture, I’d like to acquaint the management and staff with three valuable new terms that appear to be missing from their corporate vocabulary; “reservation”, “customer service” and “positive public relations.”
Res-er-va-tion (r z r-v sh n) n:
a. An arrangement by which accommodations are secured in advance, as in a hotel (hey, like the La
Quinta Inn & Suites, Moscow!) or on an airplane.
b. The accommodations so secured.
c. The record or promise of such an arrangement.
Usage: “Do not make a reservation at a La Quinta Inn & Suites. The company does not honor their promises.”
Cus-tom-er (kŭs'tə-mər) ser-vice (sûr v s) n:
a. A company’s customer care activities that support its consumers both before and after the purchase
or use of a service.
Usage: “The staff and management of La Quinta Inn & Suites definitely have a lot to learn about customer service.”
Pos-i-tive (pŏz'ĭ-tĭv) adj. pub-lic (p b l k) adj. re-la-tions (r -l sh ns) n.
a. A company or agency’s constructive, beneficial and practical relationships with its employees,
customers, investors, and /or the general public.
Usage: “Based on Le Ann’s recent, short-lived visit to the La Quinta Inn & Suites, Moscow, she’s convinced that the company doesn’t care much about fostering positive public relations.”
Angry, annoyed and thoroughly disgusted, I sunk down in a wing chair and began to call hotels in the Lewiston, Idaho – Clarkston, Washington vicinity, twin cities located approximately 28 miles south of Moscow. On my third try, I located two available suites at Clarkston’s Quality Inn, a lovely hotel and convention center on the banks of the Snake River. Meanwhile, Stewart rounded up the exhausted team members and explained the situation. While I desperately dialed telephone numbers, the disappointed boys shuffled back to our vehicle and readied themselves for another long, tiresome trip.
Let’s Play La Quinta Q & A!
Q: Why do consumers make hotel reservations well in advance of their stays?
A: To make sure that their rooms will be ready and available when they arrive. Reservations provide peace of mind to consumers – when they’re honored.
Q: Does the La Quinta Inn & Suites, Moscow, honor reservations?
Because the boys, my husband and I were ousted from one of our reserved (note the emphasis on “reserved”) rooms, we were also forced to scrap our plan to celebrate the team’s success at Bumpers III in Moscow. As we made our way to the Quality Inn, the boys settled on the idea of going to a movie at Lewiston’s Village Centre Cinema in lieu of their ruined visit to Bumpers III. The cost of nine tickets for the Sunday, October 4, 12:00 showing of “The Invention of Lying”, and two tickets for the 12:30 showing of “Surrogates” came to $71.50 (11 @ $6.50/each), plus an additional $61.50 for popcorn and sodas, a total of $133.00. Going to the movies, though, unlike the party package at Bumpers III, didn’t include lunch, so following the flicks I paid an additional $134.38 for eleven meals at the Lewiston IHOP. The difference between what I intended to spend for lunch and entertainment, $115.39 ($89.99 plus .06% Idaho State sales tax = $95.39, plus $20.00 gratuity) and what I actually spent due to the La Quinta Inn and Suites’ deplorable and ridiculous “holdover guest” policy, $267.38, is $151.99. I did, however, recoup part of the cost, $90.00, by upgrading to two much nicer suites at the Quality Inn, leaving a balance of just $61.99. Oh, before you write the check, I’d also like to be compensated for 1) the gasoline that we wasted traveling from Lewiston to Moscow and back again, $9.42 (3.5 gallons of gas at $2.69 per gallons burned because of 56 miles of unnecessary driving) and 2) the emotional distress caused by the La Quinta Inn & Suites’ overt, despicable and incomprehensible aversion to honoring long-standing room reservations. Your policies are a callous slap in the face to trusting consumers. For the Knowledge Bowl Team’s, my husband’s and my inconvenience and agitation, I’d like to receive an additional $200.00 in compensation. The grand total? $271.41. Please make the check or money order payable to “Orofino High School Knowledge Bowl Program.”
As a Public Affairs Assistant, with over 25 years of experience working for the federal government, specifically, the Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture, and an active member of the North Central Idaho Travel Association, I am appalled by La Quinta Inn & Suites’ disregard for their clientele. I’d strongly encourage your company to rethink La Quinta Inn & Suites’ outrageous “holdover guest” policy. Perhaps you should consider putting people, professionalism and positive public relations before corporate greed and insensitivity or unregulated franchise funny-business. The words “cheap” and “tacky” immediately spring to mind.
Needless to say, I don’t intend to darken the doorstep of the La Quinta Inn & Suites, Moscow, ever again, nor will I recommend the hotel to my friends, family or colleagues.
Like the boys said, you should change the names of your chain to “La Quit Ya’” Inns, because the hotels’ management thoughtlessly neglects and abandons their patrons.
Le Ann Wilson, for
Stewart Wilson, Hayden George, Cody Harris, Austin Hengen, Drake Hernandez, Dusty Kellar, Corey Kleer-Larson, Jovi-Jon Malana, Kyle Peterson and Karl Vaage
Director Communications & Public Relations
LQ Management L.L.C.
North Central Idaho Travel Association
P.O. Box 2018
Lewiston, ID 83501
Moscow Chamber of Commerce
411 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83543
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