Monday, March 10, 2014

The Palms...Never Again

For those of you unfamiliar with Las Vegas, the Palms is off the strip, near the Rio, and some consider it to be one of the better casinos in Vegas (our cab driver to the hotel actually said it is considered top three for customer service). I wish I could say our experience lived up to the reputation.

The Palms Casino Resort

We arrived on Thursday morning (at roughly 8:00 A.M.), and walked the casino floor until almost 12:30 when we were told our room was ready. This was my fault more than theirs. Check-in is 3:00, but to save money we flew in on the early morning flight.

When we got to the hotel room, we noticed that the TV image was very very pixelated, and even became laggy from time to time (sound wouldn't match up with video, then suddenly the video would catch-up). We called the front desk, they sent up a technician on Friday, swapped out the box, and said it was fixed.

Sadly, this was not the case. Every day we were at the Palms the TV would run the same stunt. Now if this was the only item, I wouldn't be too upset. After all, who goes to Vegas to sit in a hotel room? However, it was only the tip of the iceberg. On Friday morning, I noticed that the water pressure out of the shower head was abysmal. I chalked it up to being morning and everyone showering at the same time (a common experience when traveling). Later that day, my wife showered, and had the same problem, yet the water pressure coming from the tub spout was strong. She called the front desk about this item as well. Someone from building maintenance came up, looked at it, and said it was fine.

 Unfortunately, this repeated every day. My wife would call about the TV, people would arrive, "fix it," she would mention the water pressure, they would look, say it was fine and leave. Rinse (attempt to in the poor water pressure) and repeat. This continued until Tuesday (the day before we left) when there was a knock at the door and 2 people from building maintenance arrived to fix the shower spout. When they took apart the shower head, we saw that an O-Ring was bent over, blocking the pressure, and the head was full of sand, cutting off the remaining pressure. The two maintenance techs expressed their surprise when we informed them about the visits from different techs starting on Friday, and the fact that the ticket had been open so long (nearly 5 days). No other comments given, and the TV only showed analog channels that night.

On Saturday night, there was a kitchen fire in one of the restaurants at the Palms. They closed the restaurant, but missed something. Everyone who had reservations at that one restaurant went to another restaurant on the premises. Unfortunately, that other restaurant had staff call in sick, so they were understaffed for the evening, before the kitchen fire. Nobody thought to shift over staff from the closed restaurant to the one that had to take the load. Food and drink times were ridiculous. Explanations offered, but no other comments.

Also on Saturday, an acquaintance of mine, Tim Gard, a comedic keynote speaker, was trapped in an elevator for over 90 minutes. He recently had knee surgery, but had to use a ladder to get out of the elevator, and his only consolation for the time spent in the elevator was a bottle of water with the Palms logo. Do you think his routine in Vegas may receive an update?

Add in an inability to get service on the casino floor, an obvious lack of space in the food court area for when conferences were in session, and some rather condescending attendants at the spa, and I am surprised that this ranks in the top three casinos in Vegas. 

When we checked-out, we relayed our disappointment with the front desk (no manager present at 4:00 in the morning). When the attendant heard about all the incidents, his comment was: "They didn't change your rooms? I would have taken it out for maintenance with both those issues." No apology or considerations were offered. My wife's parting comments were "I've had better service at the Tropicana."

A day after our stay at the Palms, we received a survey request, where we shared all this information. In over a week and a half, no response. 

Now, Lady and the Champs was held in this casino, which is why I stayed there; but in the future, I will probably stay at the Rio and walk to the Palms. Why?

Your reputation is everything, especially in a service industry like hotels and casinos. Poor interactions can and will hurt your reputation, which hurts attendance, which hurts the bottom line. I received more customer service walking through Caesar's Palace than in the lobby of the casino I was staying in. Do you think that will stick with me?

And in this time, what are the odds that someone won't share their poor experience? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. makes it easy to share a bad experience, and people won't share the good experiences. Only the great ones, which tend to be few and far between.


Now as a leader, what do you need to be conscious of? In A Leader's Most Fragile Asset, I shared how easy it is to break trust, and how hard it can be to get back. A single bad experience (let alone three or four) can seriously sour how people perceive you.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at

Second, in Your Team Will Talk... About You! I identified that your team members will talk about you, good or bad. However, bad travels faster and is easier to believe.

What does this mean from a leadership standpoint? When you work with your team:

1. Don't ignore problems -  It only makes the team (or for that matter, customers) wonder if you care. Better to address them head-on, and quickly.

2. Acknowledge Difficulties - We never received an apology throughout the duration of our stay. Your team, customers, stakeholders will be much happier if you acknowledge the problems. How is this different than number 1? You can fix a problem without acknowledging it. How easy would it have been to wait until the room was empty, then send in a technician to fix everything, and then say they couldn't find anything wrong? Oh, wait, they pretty much did.

3. Show you appreciate their work / business - I know I've talked about acknowledging performance in the past, and it's something I believe in. In this case, there was no effort made to show the Palms cared about my business. Don't make your team think you don't appreciate what they do to achieve the goal.

As with so many things in my life, I try to find the lessons learned from the event, to Complete it. Overall the trip was very enjoyable. I even look forward to going to Las Vegas again. However, it won't be at The Palms.

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