Raquel Cepeda NY TIMES
I wonder which hotel they were staying in? Talk of Town??
Last edited by Andrea J.; 08-16-2014 at 09:27 AM.
Last edited by Andrea J.; 08-17-2014 at 07:27 AM. Reason: author
i felt that the more i read the less angry sounding it became.
and now on my soapbox:
it is so important for everyone in customer oriented industry to suck it up and really try to put on a happy face.
this author from Raquel Cepeda wrote about the unfriendly scolding front desk clerk......unfortunately, it seemed to set the tone , angry and unpleasant.
if that front desk clerk had been a little cheerier.............we might not have seen "angry" right off in the article.
Last edited by Andrea J.; 08-17-2014 at 07:27 AM. Reason: author
Not certain where they were staying but I can say that the way the desk clerk was described it reminded me of an experience I had at the Renaissance hotel. I booked a room sight unseen for one night on Priceline. We only needed one night because the home we rented wasn't available for the last day of our trip. Upon check-in I was scolded by a front desk clerk because I had no idea three people couldn't stay there. I tried to explain how Priceline worked and that we didn't choose the hotel, Priceline assigned it to us without informing us of the policy. This only angered the woman more and her coworker finally moved us over to the Ocean Suites.
When we got to the Ocean Suites I told the young lady checking us in about what happened and she described the person exactly. She told us that it wasn't the first time she had heard a story like that about her. We checked in and enjoyed Renaissance Island. In the end I chalked it up as even the Seven Dwarves had Grumpy and this was Aruba's version of an angry dwarf.
I wasn't the Ren Marina Tower as they have a no children policy....so maybe it was Ocean Suites?....no mention of Private Island though ...
I may have to write to her and ask
Although the writer was angry at first, the remainder of the story was quite interesting. I can imagine that front desk workers have their moments and bad days just like the rest of us. Frankly, it's a job I wouldn't even consider. Dealing with the public in general and rude, disrespectful American tourists in particular would not be a good thing for me. Those front desk clerks need a little more compassion and understanding maybe, and those of us on this side of the desk a little more patience and respect. They've been dealing with who knows what and we've been traveling all day, probably not either persons best behavior is on display. And before the hate starts flying, admit it, we've all seen the person in front of us not getting their way and letting the poor clerk have it.
I read the article. From the tone of the piece, it sounds as if this person arrived with a bit of a chip on her shoulder, carrying emotional (and political) baggage from her past into the present. Fair enough, as humans, we all do it. Then again, maybe that was the point of the piece: Writing as therapy. It happens. The criticism of Aruba's marketing program is particularly unjust because the purpose of a marketing program is to create an appealing image. For the most part, Aruba's marketing image is consistent with what a visitor experiences: Nice beaches, friendly service, a variety of dining options, and so forth. Would she have NYC boast about the sirens wailing in various areas of that city and skip the museums, cuisine, and Statue of Liberty? Probably not. To call the marketing program "minstrelsy" is incorrect and offensive.
As a student of the human condition and keen observer thereof, my current impression (correct or not) is that (in general) expectations have risen to "unmeetable" levels. The best example of this is commercial air travel. The customer (passenger) has come to expect that he can be transported 2,000 miles (each way), at more than 500 knots, have a Laz-z-boy size seat, be served a gourmet meal, arrive exactly on time in perfect safety, all at a cost of less than USD $0.15 per mile. This is pure fantasy and simply impossible. Still, the customer DEMANDS his desire be met and complains when his impossible expectations are not met. Silly, ignorant, and downright moronic if one takes a brief moment to examine exactly what is expected. I listen to people beat the drum, bashing airlines to no end, then brag how they got a deal for a round trip ticket to Aruba for $398. That person got precisely what they paid for, actually more in light of the situation.
Such is the case with dining in a restaurant, staying at a hotel, renting a car, and many other aspects of our lives. The expectation is perfection, delivered and sustained by creatures that are 1) Imperfect, and 2) Operate in an imperfect world. Thus, it is a sort of collective denial that is amplified by social media. A diner gets an undercooked steak and berates the restaurant on a message board or review site. A person checks into a hotel, doesn't click with the concierge and whines as if they slept on a bed of nails. The internet provides a mostly anonymous forum where a person can dump their emotional baggage on the rest of the world and find kindred spirits quite happy to join the pity party. Once the loop begins, it perpetuates itself, feeding on every offense, (perceived or real) ever experienced by anyone surfing through the posts. In a very short period of time (usually less than a day or so), the tornadic spin of this loop sucks in precious few facts and many more dubious accounts. And why? Well, because humans love bad news, love to spread it around, love to wallow in it. Misery loves company. In this age of instant digital communications, misery finds fertile ground.
Now if you stayed with me this long, I appreciate your indulgence. Allow me to throw a brick through my glass house. I am an extremely persnickety customer. In fact, often enough my expectations are extremely unrealistic, but I am honest with myself about them. Why? Because, there is one caveat to this mindset. It is CONFINED to the BOUNDARIES of the price point. In other words, if I walk into a little joint in San Nicolaas, Aruba, look over the menu and order a meal that costs me 16 florins, I do NOT expect 5 star service, gourmet plating, or the waitress to so much as speak one word of English. My expectation in this setting is that the meal is as described on the menu and will not cause illness. On the other hand, when I pay north of USD$ 30 (actually more than $40 and beyond at some places in Aruba) for an entrée, my whiskers are more finely tuned. As they should be! This is a significant amount of money for a meal. The hostess should not “break my balls” about my request to sit away from the waiter station, throwing up her arms to declare, “Is this YOUR restaurant?”
I understand that at any given moment on this spinning planet there are things beyond our control that will impede not only our goals but those of others who may be doing their best to deliver what we ask and pay for.
In any case, the past four weeks on the island have been a bit of a rough ride. Unlike the gentle lady writing for the exulted New York Times, I will NOT lament the specifics, which are probably droll and boring. Nonetheless, I’ve encountered a number of people just like her desk clerk in various situations. I will say that Aruba needs to do some serious self-examination of its front line service people. From time to time, it becomes necessary to remind everyone of the importance of the customer. Lately, I’ve personally experienced numerous Arubans complaining unfairly and incorrectly about the tourists, with one person blaming the tourists for all the island’s ills ranging from litter to electrical outages. Certainly visitors create a burden, but without that burden, what (precisely) is Aruba going to do to sustain itself in this competitive world? Bitterness, resentment, and downright rudeness will begin that feedback loop I mentioned earlier. Furthermore, Aruba might look only several hundred miles to the north, to a dark cloud that may soon blow away. And that cloud is Cuba. When Cuba opens up to US investment in its tourist infrastructure (and it eventually will), Aruba will have a new competitor that is much closer, historically exotic, and potentially a better value for the same customer. You read it here first; Cuba is coming.
Aruba, do you understand the magnitude of this eventually? Please, don't say you weren't warned.
Hence, now is the time to renew and refresh, to show that Aruba is worthy of her old moniker, “the Princess of the Caribbean,” that she has class and style, and most important, grace.
Thank you for your time. I hope this expository has been helpful in some small way.
dan you have seem to have hit the nail "squarely on the head."
as always a pleasure reading your words and value your opinions.
You are so correct about Cuba. As a Canadian we do not have restrictions on being able to visit. I have taken several vacations there. The beaches defy description. Beautiful does nt describe them. They are not polluted, no McDonalds or other fast food places and generally the average Cuban worker is friendly and very appreciative of any attention or small gift. I have had to deal with the "authorities" there and all I can say is that they are typical of any heavy handed bureaucracy. Cuba has European partners such as the Sol Melia Hotel chain. The tourist resorts are generally pretty good. As with anywhere, if you look for trouble you will find it....especially in Havana. The negative with Cuba is the unfortunate situation with food. This is where Aruba beats Cuba hands down. I have been in Cuba at Christmas and also at New Years and at those times the resort restaurants do go all out.
One thing that Aruba needs to consider is the cost of a Cuban vacation in comparison to an Aruban vacation. We can get trips with airfare and accommodations starting around $400. Cuba's need for hard currency is evident in all areas.
Would I go back to Cuba? Probably, but if I had to choose between Cuba and Aruba, I would probably choose Aruba. More to do, better food, free to do what you want and when you want to.
Last edited by aquaman; 08-17-2014 at 09:22 AM.