Aug 05

The St. Petersburg, Russia, Holiday Inn is no vacation

There's poor customer service, there's NJ transit and then there's the St. Petersburg, Russia,
3-1214_holiday-inn-logo
Holiday-inn-moskovskie Holiday Inn. The last is in a class of its own and could easily lay claim to a global 'worst in class' top spot.
  
I had the serious misfortune to begin my two-week Russian climbing adventure at the Holiday Inn in St. Petersburg.
  
Upon waking the second morning, I sauntered into the bathroom and flipped on the shower faucet. That's when I spied a Holiday Inn sign on the wall that read 'Please use orange floor mat when bathing.' So, I did. Big, big mistake. Bigger, in fact, than the 18,800 ft high Mt. Elbrus I was planning  to climb.

I put one toe on the orange mat and, swoosh, I was sent flying head over heels. My head cracked (and broke) the toilet seat. Simultaneously, my  left hip slammed full force into the side of the porcelain tub. The pain was exquisite.
  
I sucked it up, downed some Aleve and continued on the trip. Each day, the pain would move from one part of my back to another. A doctor traveling with our climbing team thought I'd suffered a pinched nerve. Being the take no prisoners type of blogger that I am, I shook it off and began training with the rest of the team.
  
We flew to the Baksun Valley, hiked on the spectacular, lower level hills, attended rescue and survival courses (it's so uplifting to hear crevasse horror stories) and took in the local sights.

Now, fast forward to summit day. We began at 2am. By 11:30 am, we'd made it to the 'saddle,' a spot just below the peak. My back was screaming 'Nyet!' But, I plowed ahead anyway before the searing pain made me turn back a mere 800 feet from my goal. All because of an orange Holiday Inn bath mat.
  
My assistant, Dandy Stevenson, will be sending copies of this blog to the CEO of Holiday Inn and the general manager of the totally irresponsible St. Petersburg unit. Oh, by the way, six other members of my climbing team also fell on those same malevolent mats.

If
Holiday Inn has any sort of image and reputation left over from its heyday in
the mid 1960s, I'd like this blog to be my way of placing a virtual orange mat
in front of their brand. I hope they slip on it and  suffer the same
degree of pain and disappointment as me.

Holiday Inn's tagline is: 'Stay you'. They define the brand promise in the following ways: 'Stay yourself,' 'Stay picky,' 'Stay indulgent' 'Stay Impressed' and ''Stay Invigorated.' I suggest a slight variation on the 'Stay' campaign: 'Stay someplace else!"

Jul 16

We put the ‘cuss’ in customer service

I have never had a worse user experience than my ongoing, nightmarish relationship with New 
Njt1 Jersey Transit.

Today's train ride is a classic example. We've been stuck sitting just outside Penn Station for 40 minutes with absolutely no explanation whatsoever. Why? Because NJT is a public utility, has no competition and could care less about its image, reputation or customer service.

The NJT user experience is one, long holistic descent into a transit version of Dante's Inferno. It's not just the dirty trains, rude conductors and tardy arrivals. It's the quality of one's fellow passengers that puts NJT into the top slot of my personal 'Brands Hall of Shame.

My thanks to Scott Rosenbaum and Juke Box Hero Productions for sharing this recent photograph of a typical NJT passenger. Note the upscale attire and care with which he treats his seat. Thanks buddy. Right back at you.

In the past, I've suggested myriad taglines for NJT that would underscore its shoddy performance and enable it to deliver on a credible brand promise. Fellow Peppercommer Matt Purdue suggested a new one that I just love….

“NJT: We put the 'cuss' in customer service.”