Carol Pitts and her husband are both smokers, but thanks to a little quick thinking and a lot of research, we helped her put out a fire.
And who started that fire? Hilton Grand Vacations.
Her story is a testament to the power of our executive contact database, the skills of our research team, and the importance of persistence.
Pitts recently booked a room through Hilton Grand Vacations in Las Vegas. Since it was Sin City, where smoking is pretty much allowed everywhere, they assumed they’d be able to light up.
“I found out the day before the arrival date when I went to the hotel website, looking to see if it had a coffee maker in the room, that this is a nonsmoking property,” she says. “I never saw this when I visited the website the first time months ago.”
Pitts is unhappy.
“This is Las Vegas,” she says. “It might be understandable in another city not to disclose, but there are over 400 hotels in Vegas and only seven nonsmoking hotel properties. This should have been disclosed when selling the timeshare sales package.”
I’ll let her explain what happened next:
When I called the reservations number about the nonsmoking problem, I was curtly told by the salesman that I should have asked.
I said that would be like me asking if the room has beds. It wasn’t even a thought that it might be a nonsmoking property, this is Las Vegas!
Then he said, “Just go outside and smoke.”
I said that we weren’t going to go down 20 floors at all hours to smoke and he replied, rudely, “Well, then I’m charging you $120 for canceling, aside from having to pay $169 for the package.”
At that point, there was no effort on Hilton’s part to be polite or understanding, to try to place us in another property, or to waive the fee. We feel we’ve been scammed by these sales people, and I’m shocked Hilton operates like this.
I’ve stayed at many Hiltons, including three weeks at the Cavalieri in Rome, and have never had anything but excellent, accommodating customer service.
As advocates, our next step would have been to suggest she appeal in writing to Hilton Grand Vacations. But we didn’t have any contacts to offer her.
We did have a secret weapon: our amazing research team.
We found executive contacts at Hilton Grand Vacations — really good ones. I’m talking emails, direct phone numbers and the names and numbers of personal assistants. And we published them.
Pitts used them. And wouldn’t you know it, they worked.
“I received immediate replies, and a manager at Hilton Grand Vacations apologized and is refunding my money,” she says. “Without your contact lists, I’d have been lost and might not have had a great outcome.”
I love a happy ending. Thanks for doing the right thing, Hilton.
As a postscript, Pitts asked for my opinion on this issue. That’s a question I rarely get asked, so let me try to answer. I fully support Hilton’s no-smoking policy. I don’t think anyone should smoke in a hotel room — ever. But in a place like Las Vegas, where you’re surrounded by lit cigarettes, hotels should disclose their nonsmoking terms clearly when someone books, and in the event of a cancellation, they shouldn’t throw the book in the customer’s face.
I don’t know if Pitts is going to like my answer, but she asked.