Nope this isn't a diatribe on how Trip Advisor has too much power, or not enough. Nor is it a rant on how hotels and bed & breakfast don't have enough of a say on the matter. This is my tale of how I was recently able to use Trip Advisor to my advantage against a rather shoddy shack masquerade as a hotel in London. Now I'm certainly not going to name and shame them as I was eventually accommodated so seek no further revenge or retribution; I would simply like to brag to you about how I was able to get a little power back to my side one late Thursday night recently.
As a comedian I've grown to naturally hate train conductors and hotel managers, this is through no fault of the individuals but more out of the monotonous repetitive nature of hearing phrases such as "make sure you have your travel documents with you" and "breakfast finishes at 9am"- great I say to myself, I'll not even bother trying to get up for that. On the few occasions I find I have to book my own accommodation I can never justify spending a great deal of money on hotels, it is a business expense after all so any extra money spent on luxurious rooms seems silly to me. It's almost became a game of mine to see how little I can actually spend on a room. Last year I was able find a room for £22 in London and it essentially was a box with a bed and a sink in it. I finished my show at 11pm and astonishingly all the local take away establishments in the vicinity appeared to have been closed for hours. Not put off or put out by this I eventually found a 24 hour Newsagents and was able to find a "just add water" pot of dry noodles. I could have cried when I got back to the room only to discover there was no kettle. I wish I had have gone to bed there and then, but I didn't. I was sat at the end of my bed filling up the pot of noodles with the hot tap of the sink, mashing the not-yet-soft noodles with the bottom of my toothbrush that I also doubled up as an eating utensil. As I'm writing this Gerry Rafferty's On My Way has just came on my phone (shuffle). Quite fitting: "I used to think I was doing alright but now I see I was just hanging on"- that was how I felt about my comedy career that night.
Well I didn't learn my lesson as a year later I'm back in London and have found another room, this time for £27. They made a point of saying on the website "box room" a la Seinfeld "they make a point of saying no egg white omelette on the menu". I checked in at 11:30 pm in what was sweltering heat. The guy seemed to take pleasure in telling me I was downstairs. To say the room was small... It could just about fit the bed in there. I opened the window but it didn't open to the outside (as I was actually underground). I could smell cleaning products. It was then I realised I was sleeping in a poorly converted half of a bathroom. The other half was right next door so I was effectively sleeping in a bathroom. "OK" I said to myself in a feeble attempt to rationalise the situation "you did only pay £27, Carl". But did that mean I have to risk getting sick for the night? Surely not.
I got dressed and inquired at reception if he had a fan to give me. The man was sitting with a fan on him. "A fan?! No, no" he said as he was chuckling to himself with a fan on him! I went back downstairs to my chamber where my rage and fury only added to the already unbearable humidity. I tried to sleep one more time but was awoken when a fellow resident had to use the shared bathroom I.e. the other half of my room. It sounded like he or she (sounded like a he) was on top of my head. I marched back upstairs to reception fully dressed and now fully packed. "Look mate" was my opener "if you would like me to notify Trip Advisor that you have sectioned off a bathroom and called it a bed room, provide no ventilation, cramped areas, have a stench of cleaning products and that you laugh at your customers when they ask for assistance then let me know and I'll get on that now as I'm certainly not going to get any sleep here". Not only did he put me in a much better room, he unplugged his fan to give to me. I explained the fact I now have a room with a window is enough and I don't want him sweating all night too.
So thanks to Trip Advisor for the amazing fear you fill hotel managers with. But should we really have to do this for a bit of customer service. At the moment, yes, it would appear we would. So go ahead and enjoy the same feeling of satisfaction that I did.