Now that’s a classy hotel: Banff Fairmont saves ruined vacation

By | July 14th, 2009

fairmontJim Kohlman almost lost his entire vacation on a technicality. And he would have, were it not for the help of a hotel that understands the hospitality business.

Kohlman and his wife had booked a package through Travelocity that included flights, car rental, and a week-long stay at The Fairmont Banff Springs. But things took a turn for the worse when they checked in for their flight in Sacramento.

The Alaska Air ticket agent noticed that our passports were in the name of James and Susan but our tickets were Jim and Sue. Evidently, this seemingly minuscule difference would get us stopped in Calgary and sent back to the U.S., according to Alaska Air. Furthermore, Alaska could not change the ticketed names as it was booked through Travelocity.

We spent an hour on the phone with Travelocity, but they finally claimed that it was too close to flight departure for them to execute any changes. I went back to the Alaska ticket agent, who was extremely caring, to see about a later flight. She said she could get us on at 10 a.m. and urged me to do it as the rest of the week was pretty booked. However, we would have to pay $1,500 for a new round trip itinerary. We decided not to risk the additional $1,500, and instead returned home to reassess our options.

Travelocity offered Kohlman credit for their airline tickets and car rental, but the Banff Fairmont refused a refund or even credit.

I contacted Fairmont at the corporate level on his behalf. A representative responded with the following explanation:

When someone books Fairmont with Travelocity, our agreement requires payment to us by Travelocity for reservations made through their system. So technically, Travelocity as the “booker” should have requested the change or reimbursed the guest.

Now, I suppose it’s possible to say that the accounting departments of Fairmont and Travelocity could have connected to verify who paid whom and when, to determine whether Fairmont could rebook/reimburse him, but Travelocity as the booking agent should have facilitated this. (For us to rebook, for example, we’d have to check with our accounting departments to see if Travelocity had paid for this – this isn’t something the guest would be able to do, you see? And I’m not certain that even if we were paid by Travelocity, we’d reimburse the guest directly – I could see that being a liability issue, how do you prove it, ect.)

At this point, I have not verified if Travelocity actually paid us for this trip – we’d have to go back and trace, but Travelocity should be the one to reimburse him, according to procedures. Unfortunately it appears this process wasn’t properly explained to Mr. Kohlman.

I asked Travelocity for help, but before it could reply, the a representative from the Banff Fairmont got back to Kohlman.

I am very sorry to hear of the challenges you experienced. Mr. Kohlman, we would like to offer you and your family a complimentary six-night stay for a future date at The Fairmont Banff Springs. When you are ready to reserve, please contact me directly via email or telephone.

Please let me know if there is anything additional I may assist with. We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you and your family to our Castle in the Rockies!

So the Kohlman’s get to redo their Canadian vacation, and everyone is happy.

How could this have been prevented? Obviously, paying close attention to the names on a reservation is important. Although I’m not sure if I agree with the Alaska Air representative about being turned away at the Canadian border. I think the real reason may have more to do with that $1,500 walk-up fare they would have been charged. But I don’t know for certain.

Kudos to Fairmont for fixing this. Now that’s what I call a classy hotel.

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