By Marti Mayne
I’ve recently had the chance to experience good versus bad customer service at lodging properties and am now even more convinced it’s the remarkable customer service at the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) that make them distinctive. In fact, when I compare a stay at most inns and B&Bs to the chain hotels I experienced on a recent trip from Vermont to Miami, FL, I can now more fully understand what makes inns and B&Bs stand out. The ten DINE inns take customer care to another level, earning the organization the privilege to call themselves distinctive inns.
During my trip down the East Coast of the United States by car, I stayed in chain hotels that were close to 95 South. All of these hotels were owned by the largest hotel corporations in the country. I was surprised and shocked at the lack of interest in their customers’ experience displayed by nearly every person I came into contact with. At one hotel, after being charged more than twice the rate stipulated on my confirmation letter, the General Manager told me it was industry-wide practice to charge a higher rate based upon demand for that hotel. He explained that bookings were higher than usual, so the rate was allowed to go higher, despite the significantly lower rate confirmation I received and agreed to pay. After considerable objection on my part, he begrudgingly acquiesced and refunded the over-charge, clearly unhappy with my objection and with me. I left angry and unappreciated.
At a second hotel, I went to check out and ask a question. The person at the front desk appeared to be high-school aged. She was staring at her phone and after about a minute of my standing there trying to be noticed she looked up. She didn’t say a word, took my key, and immediately looked back down at the phone. It was clear she didn’t want to answer any questions. I guess that’s what’s now considered “contactless check out”. Once again, I felt like no one at this hotel cared if I stayed or not.
“Even though the human mind recalls both the good and the bad, unfavorable interactions with customer service are longer lasting,” according to a blog published by Zendesk, a customer service software company. In today’s review-centric world, bad customer service is much more likely to be published as warnings to fellow travelers than good service. It was in my case.
I’ve stayed at all ten of the DINE inns multiple times. All of the DINE inns offer beautiful accommodations in settings filled with recreation and great shopping, restaurants and natural beauty. Yet, more than any of their numerous amenities, it’s the remarkable service that always strikes me. From a warm and friendly welcome, topped off with homemade treats, coffee or tea to the help with itinerary planning and sharing of the best spots for just about anything one might want to do, DINE innkeepers are there to help. When guests leave a DINE inn they feel special, like a VIP. There’s never been a visit to a DINE inn where I didn’t feel welcomed and valued.
There was such a stark contrast to DINE’s distinctive hospitality at the chain hotels I stayed in along the East Coast of the U.S. One explanation is that the owner is present and on site at all DINE inns where those working at the hotels where I stayed were not owners, nor were they invested in the guests’ experience. DINE inn owners are on site to manage and train their staff, and training starts with an investment and concern for the customer’s experience at these inns. This shows in every visit to a DINE inn.
We invite you to come see for yourself. Book your next New England getaway at a DINE inn where customer care is award-winning. Don’t forget to book directly with the inn for the best rate and experience.
In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic