The Jefferson Hotel’s Outstanding Service Recovery

Several weeks ago I stayed at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, a grand old property that I gave somewhat mixed reviews to.

I had a nice suite upgrade, and the room had one of my all-time favorite bathrooms as a result of one of my absolute favorite showers ever (large shower room with three separate shower heads — two on opposite walls and one overhead).

There were some real service failures and slips, though, and I concluded at the time that the hotel was much much better at service recovery than actual service. The valet dinged my car door, my room didn’t do much to keep out the noise from my neighbors above, and service in the restaurant was slow — in fact twice we were forgotten for 30 minutes at a time during the same meal.

Everyone was tremendously apologetic and friendly. And that was the end of my review.

I got a call from the Assistant General Manager of the hotel the day after I checked out. It came out of the blue and really surprised me. My blog review of the property had been forwarded to her, and she was reaching out. She asked me questions about the stay, was very concerned about everything that happened, and insisted that I give the hotel another try.

First off, the hotel sent me a check to reimburse the cost to fix the ding in my door (it wasn’t major: $175 took care of it). Second, my visit to the hotel had been a one-night stay. The Assistant GM sent me a letter offering me a complimentary future one-night stay and complimentary dinner.

She couldn’t have been nicer, more genuinely concerned, and she followed up. So for now I still have to say better at service recovery than anything else — but serious A+ marks in service recovery. And I will indeed take them up on the free night at some point and report back on how my next stay goes.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for posting this follow-up story.

    A common issue with moderately prominent bloggers reviewing products and services is that they receive more attention from vendors because of your posted internet reviews.

    Do you believe you would have received the same level of attention and service if you had done only one of the following?

    1. Written an email to the hotel.
    2. Posted a review on tripadvisor, yelp, etc.
    3. Posted your trip report only on an internet bulletin board.

    Of course, there’s no way for you to know unless somebody else contributes an anecdote — just a thought exercise I guess.

    Nothing against this particular hotel and the service you received — I just think it’s important for everyone to be aware of potentially divergent levels of service based on stature.

  2. I think it’s great of a hotel to go above and beyond in trying to make up for their mistakes or do all what it takes to win back a customer. Sometimes, it’s the service that really matters in the end. What good does it bring to a nice hotel, if the service sucks. Bad service is bad for business. I’m glad it all turned out well in the end for you….Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. @Steve, before I had written my post, while I was still on-property, and before they knew I wrote a blog the hotel had already committed to pay the cost of the ding to my door and had offered to comp me a meal at the restaurant.

    Would I have gotten a call from the Assistant GM? I have no way to know. Would she have offererd to comp a future night? I have no way to know. Because both of those happened after I had written my post.

    The differing levels of service by the way at most of the hotels I review are more likely to result from elite status than anything else…

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