My Last Visit to XYZ Casino

The name of the gaming property I write about in this article shall remain a mystery because I don’t want to cast aspersions on the people there who work hard and do a good job.

Nevertheless, this article is a blow-by-blow account of a terrible experience my wife Lydia and I recently had at a large Las Vegas casino-hotel.  I will whine big time and casino executives tempted to skip to another area of my blog should be ashamed.  They should want to know how bad things can get for a casino’s visitors and vow that this will never happen at their property.  They should care because I will never visit this casino again.

The trip did not start out well because I had a raging head cold.  Over time, the casino didn’t seem to understand that I was in no shape to put up with difficulties.

We requested a certain type of room in the hotel, something with a modern look.  The room was waiting and it was nice but it was a very long hike to get there.  We unpacked, checked e-mail on our laptop computer and then Lydia left so I could get some sleep. Thirty minutes later, I heard a pounding sound.  At first I figured it was a neighbor’s TV and drifted back to sleep.  When Lydia returned, she told me our room was over one of the bars.  That was not the best place to get some rest and I said we would have to move.  Lydia made the call and the staff was very nice.  We moved to another room of the same style 14 floors higher.

Things improved when we had dinner.  Our meal was excellent and we decided the service at this property was very good.  People even smiled and asked how we were doing.

Fast forward to 4 a.m. when Lydia woke me up.  She smelled something like hot wire, something electrical burning.  It wasn’t our computer so I suggested she check the hallway.  I couldn’t smell anything because of my cold.  She cracked the door and immediately closed it.  Much worse in the hall!  Concerned that there was a fire in the hotel, Lydia made another call to the front desk and they assured her there was no problem.  They were cleaning the grease traps in the kitchen and that caused the smell.

The front desk staff was very nice and offered to move us again.  Because of the hassle, they moved us to a junior suite in a different part of the hotel.  We appreciated their effort but this was our third room in just over 12 hours.  On top of that, we went from the style of room we liked to a big room that had – no disrespect intended – an old person’s feel.  This was just not us, but we accepted it because I was exhausted and sick.  So we unpacked yet again and called down to set our wake-up call – for 60 minutes later.

Knowing the kind of room we prefer, we wondered why the staff thought we would enjoy this one.  The previous rooms had comfortable sheets and bedding.  This room had an old Las Vegas hotel bed with sheets that were closer to uncomfortable than plush.  The first two rooms had nice hair dryers.  This one had a cheap, inefficient one.  We wanted to move again but I decided three moves was my limit.

After the wake-up call, we started our computer and the Internet connection we purchased three rooms ago no longer worked.  I made the call this time and was told I would have to buy the service again but that the cost would be fixed at checkout.

That sums up our problems while at the property.  But here’s an interesting tidbit.  This was our second visit to this particular property in less than 90 days.  In five total days of staying there, we spent almost $5,000 on hotel rooms and meals.  I know that didn’t put us in the top 20 percent by Las Vegas standards, but I would expect a better experience for the money.

When I returned to my office, I sent the casino a detailed two-page letter via e-mail.  I should have expected what happened next.  I received the following rely 48 hours later:  “Thank you for your e-mail.  Your e-mail has been forwarded to the Hotel Operations Department for review and response.  Their response will be sent via U.S. Post to the address on your room account unless you provide another mailing address.”

Let me see.  We moved three times in 12 hours and were so unhappy we pondered yet another move.  I took the time to write and send a multi-page letter.  The best the casino could do was send a generic e-mail reply two days later that said I would eventually get another response via snail mail?  They didn’t even apologize for our unpleasant experience.

I tell anyone who will listen that guest satisfaction is not an accurate predictor of a casino’s future growth.  You need to measure guest advocacy if you want to predict the future.  During this most recent three-night experience, Lydia and I went from “very satisfied” to “very dissatisfied” a number of times.

Here’s the crucial question.  Are we advocates of this property?  We both were advocates when we arrived.  After the fist move, I went from “advocate” to “neutral” but Lydia was still an advocate because it was indeed a nice room.  At 4:15 a.m. as we waited for the bellman to move us again, she was still an advocate because our next room was a suite.  By then I had shifted to “oppose” because I wanted to rest, not sample all the rooms in the hotel.  When we arrived at the suite, Lydia’s attitude went to “neutral.”  I rested comfortably in “oppose.”

The e-mail response I received to my letter of complaint has me firmly rooted in “strongly oppose.”  I am now an anti-advocate.  I will tell anyone who will listen not to stay at this property.

Are you measuring the right things?  Are you measuring your property’s advocate rating?  If you are, do you ask the right questions to find out why some guests are not advocates?
Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.