Posts tagged “reservations”

CRM brulee

As diners, an online reservation service like OpenTable has obvious conveniences. But as the NYT explains, “The other end, however, is where the service has real benefit.”

The reservations that pop up on the restaurants’ computer screens, especially those made by regulars, are accompanied by an important tidbit or two.

Doug Washington, a co-owner of Town Hall, said the notes were not just helpful, they are occasionally indispensable. Next to the name of one regular, who has a habit of bringing in women he is not married to, is an instruction to make sure the man’s wife has not booked a separate table for the same day.

Another frequent guest asks the restaurant to send over dessert compliments of the chef but to put the charge on the guest’s bill. Of another, who takes many of his first dates to Town Hall, the instructions read, “Do not treat like a regular!”

Cool to think about the other interfaces into a system and the other tasks being supported.


After my recent challenges booking with Marriott, I encountered a similar level of weirdness with Starwood. I was trying to book a room (for a conference, using their conference-rate link) and couldn’t seem to log into my account. I haven’t used it for a while and naturally don’t have a clue as to my username and password (more specifically – I can’t remember what format they require my username and password to be in; if I knew that I could probably reconstruct them both). I went through the various helpful links (Forgot your password? Forgot your username?) to try and resolve it. When asked for my membership number I pulled out my Starwood Preferred Guest card and entered the number, only to be told that something to the effect that I needed to enter a number in the proper format. I’m looking at the screeen, I’m looking at my card – the numbers are exact. But no, not valid. Okay, I try something else – I give ’em my email address and they email me a new password and remind me of my username. I go back and try to log in using the newly issued/reset password. Nope, it doesn’t know who I am.

What the hell?

I finally contact them for help, after screwing around for way too long with this.

The website was not accepting your above Starwood Preferred Guest account number because your account had reached an expired status as of March 31, 2004, resulting in any remaining Starpoints being forfeited.

Starpoints do not expire for active accounts. Accounts are considered active as long as you have earned Starpoints as a result of activities at participating Starwood Properties or as a result of use of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express during the previous twelve months.

I am pleased to tell you that your account has been reactivated to enable you to view your above Starwood Preferred Guest number online.

Whoah. First of all, their technology is absolutely complete broken. If the account is suspended, then the error message should say something like that, not simply reject the account number as not being valid. Or the failure-to-logon info should provide some information that suggests they know who I am but won’t let me on for some reason. And they shouldn’t reset my password and then refuse to let me log on with it.

But really, WTF? Why would they de-activate my online login for inactivity?

And beyond that, it gets really punitive! I have forfeited my Starpoints? The language is just so wrong, so haughty. This is not service, and this is not going to encourage loyalty. Did I have any Starpoints? I have no clue, I don’t care. I’ve held onto their damn card for years, but that isn’t enough of a committment to Starwood, I’m not active, so I’ve been forfeited and also deactivated.

The net effect here is not to motivate me to toe the line and be a good Starwood customer, but rather to vote with my feet. They’ve got my money this time (and it’s actually the conference money but whatever) but next time, I will look for someone else.

Oh, and even though my profile indicated I don’t want to receive marketing email from them, by making a reservation with them they reset that and bury a line about opting-out in the confirmation email.

This is a bad company.


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