My Christmas Story…

Once upon a time, a kindly couple decided to venture out in the cold on New Year’s Eve and enjoy a night on the town, to brighten their dreary lives…

 

The kindly couple is of course, your’s truly, Rob & Sue from Worldtraveller.me.uk

Having realised we were totally on our own yet again for New Years Eve, Sue decided we should stay at a hotel somewhere that were hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner.  We weren’t overly bothered about a big gala affair with dancing, just a nice dinner in a nice hotel.  It had to be local as Sue was working during the day.  I know – who works on NYE?

That in itself sort of limited our options, as did price – some hotels wanted over £400 for a single night with dinner for two.  I’m not being funny, but we can go abroad for a whole week for that kind of money.

Anyway I said no, but being an old romantic I secretly booked our local Village Hotel in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire who were hosting three events – a pub buffet at £20/head, a dinner in the restaurant at £45/head, and a gala event with dancing until the wee hours for £65/head.   (Sounds a bit “Goldilocks and Three Bears”!)

And that didn’t include the room – that was an extra £104 for a double, somewhat inflated over their normal pricing.  But you would expect that for NYE wouldn’t you.   So, being the old romantic I am, 17th November I booked the restaurant meal for two and room, grand total £194.  Cringe.  Better be good.

I then spent three weeks working away from home and spent my evenings making a little NYE presentation pop-up gift box which Sue could open on Christmas day, with the dinner tickets inside.   Just as I finished sticking on the last layer of glitter, I received an email from the Village Hotel on the 30th November:

“Good Afternoon Robert,

I have tried to call today with no luck getting through to yourself or the voicemail.

Unfortunately we have had to cancel NYE in the Verve restaurant. We have a couple of other events on NYE which we could move you to or we can offer a full refund.

The other events we have on are

  • NYE in the public house @ £20 per person (the extra would be refunded) this includes a finger buffet, disco and a Garry Barlow tribute with fireworks at midnight.
  • NYE in the inspiration suite @ £65 per person (the extra would need to be paid) this includes a 4 course meal with fizz & canapés, Garry Barlow tribute, disco in a Mardi Gras style room.

Could you please get back to me asap and let me know what you would like to do.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Having already decided that the pub buffet wasn’t for us, and a bit aggrieved at being asked to pay extra through no fault of my own, I begrudgingly cancelled and in fairness received an immediate refund for both room and dinner tickets.

It turned out to be more than a slight inconvenience as all the other options available to us had sold out by that point, leaving us stranded at home.  However, never fazed, I put “romantic plan b” into operation and I hope presented Sue with an equally enjoyable evening in the seclusion of our own home.

Note there was no explanation as to why they felt it necessary to cancel – I assumed it just hadn’t sold well enough to go ahead.

Until a couple of days before the big night I received an automated email from them asking whether I wanted to pre-purchase any drinks for the evening.  Assuming this was a very poor admin error, I emailed back telling them what a slap in the face their latest email was, and asking them to remove me from their mailing lists, as we won’t be using the Village again in future.  No reply.

But, something was niggling me.   I emailed back again.  “Is this function actually going ahead?”   No answer.

I couldn’t stop the niggling.   And come New Year’s Eve, just as I had started preparations for my own gala evening at home, curiosity got the better of me and I called the hotel, selected the restaurant option, and got put through to a lovely lady called Wendy.

“Can you tell me if the restaurant is open tonight, or do you have one of your Village NYE functions in it?  If it’s open do you have any tables free?”

“I’m sorry, the restaurant is closed for a private function”.

“Is that a Village function or a private one?”

“No, it’s a private function, the whole restaurant has been booked.  Unfortunately both the Village venues are now fully booked and there is no availability.  I’m sorry, but Happy New Year”

(From memory, may not be verbatim but I’m sure it has been recorded for training purposes).

Now.  The cynical among you are now sat there saying “Ah!   Someone called the Village and asked to book the restaurant, and they bumped all the existing dinner reservations as this was a better deal”.

I’m sure the VUR group wouldn’t treat their customers that way.  So I’m inclined to think that, although a lot more improbable, I was the only person to have booked the restaurant, and they had no option but to cancel.

Now, my 35 years of QA experience suggests that a good company, to protect the customer loyalty and experience,  would have upgraded us for free – it was only another £40, and we may well have endured the night even though we didn’t fancy the menu and the dancing is a non-starter.  But maybe that’s not how the Village see themselves.  A good company that is.

And then, while the events team were panicking, wondering how they were ever going to meet their ridiculously high targets now, an angel came down from above, and offered a Christmas gift of a total restaurant booking, and saved the day in the nick of time.

You see, I DO believe in the magic of Christmas.

It’s a shame that the Village hasn’t seen it necessary to provide any plausible explanation.  It sort of changes my opinion of their customer service ethos.

Now, I’ve already said that I’m not jumping to any conclusions, or suggesting anything untoward has happened.   I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions.

I guess the moral of my Christmas story is this –

If you want a night on the town, you can’t stay in the Village…

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