New Orleans, LA

How A Hotel Can Taint Your Experience Months After You Check Out

Kristi Keller

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As someone who has spent many years travel writing, reviewing accommodations, and hob-nobbing with resort managers, I hate to be a whistleblower. But I also hate when I see hospitality providers ignore their most precious assets.

In the early half of 2019, I embarked on the vacation that sat at the top of my bucket list for years. I was finally able to visit New Orleans.

I would be in the Big Easy for ten days, which wasn’t nearly enough time by anyone’s standards. My travel partner and I had booked ourselves into two different hotels. Five nights in one, and five nights in another.

Both hotels were Hilton properties. I chose them because I’m a Hilton Honors gold member, and an on-call employee. Nobody can beat employee rates. The reason we broke up our stay into two different hotels is because as an employee, you can’t book more than seven nights in any one property.

I saw this as a bonus because it would be cool to get a feel for different parts of the city.

The one hotel I was most excited to experience was the Troubadour, a boutique hotel within walking distance to the French Quarter. From the moment I began researching Hilton properties in NOLA, this one appeared to be the most unique.

By all accounts, the Troubadour was incredible. It was the first of our two hotels on this vacation, and it was our first impression of the city of New Orleans.

From the minute we stepped out of our taxi in front of the property, my expectations soared as high as the 17th floor rooftop bar it boasts. Immediately, we were greeted by the concierge — a super friendly, young man beaming with southern hospitality and charm.

He took our bags from the roadside, up the front stairs and into the hotel lobby. We then asked him to accompany us back out to the road to take pictures of us in front of the hotel.

We had arrived.

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Proceeding to the front desk for check-in, I noticed the name tag of the woman who would give us our room. I remembered speaking to her on the phone months before our arrival. I pay attention to the little details because they matter. Especially when they make your vacation better.

Our room was exactly how it was pictured on the website and included lots of little extras we hadn’t counted on. The in-room mini-bar station, for one. I mean, they had Pinot Noir in a can, along with countless bottles and flasks of assorted liquors. Some were native to the city itself.

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My travel partner and I had died and gone to NOLA heaven. We settled in after our red-eye journey and decided to forego the city on our first night, in exchange for the rooftop bar at the hotel.

It was stellar. The ambiance up there, high above New Orleans was exactly what we’d expected and more. Our bartender on the rooftop was a beautiful human being, oozing with that same southern hospitality we’d experienced 17 floors below, at the concierge desk. And her service was top-notch.

Needless to say, we interacted with many of the same staff, over and over during our stay at the Troubadour. Juwan, our concierge, seemed to be hiding around every corner we came to and was there whenever we needed him.

In five short days at the Troubadour, certain staff members became like family and we knew we’d miss them when we moved on to our next hotel. I remember wondering if we’d find a Juwan at our next hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn on South Peter street.

Indeed, we did. The concierge staff at the second hotel also bent over backward during our stay. But we never forgot Juwan. He was just a young kid, probably younger than my own son, but he took such great care in making sure we were having a great vacation.

We made sure to keep in touch with him after checking out, and we even invited him out one night with us.

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Our ten days in New Orleans came and went in a whirlwind of fun and frivolity. It seemed far too soon that we were onboard our flight home. Gone, but never forgotten.

Once I’d settled back into real life at home I couldn’t help but feel compelled to give credit where it was due. I decided to get in touch with management at the Troubadour to let them know what a wonderful experience we’d had during our stay.

I emailed the contact address on their website to ask for the general manager’s direct contact information. The reply came quickly, with the name and email address of the hotel general manager.

Immediately, I fired off an email telling the GM how great our stay was and highlighting the exact staff members who had made our experience memorable. I figured it’s the least I could do, and I know that Hilton sometimes provides incentives to staff who receive accolades.

To this day, I have yet to receive any kind of reply from the hotel management. Not a peep.

Not only was this insulting to me, as a guest who went out of her way to sing the praises of their establishment, but it’s also an insult to the staff members I acknowledged.

No response leaves me wondering if the accolades ever reached the intended employees. It soured me a little.

Having worked in the same industry for so long, I’m aware of the gratifying feeling of knowing you had a direct impact on a traveler’s experience. Every employee who goes above and beyond should be recognized.

Our travel dollars pay the wages of hotel employees and the salaries of management. The least they could do is respond. If for no other reason, than to accept the pat on the back I was paying forward.

A hotel is nothing but rooms and beds, if not for the staff who work diligently to create the experience each guest is expecting.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.

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