I just returned from a four-day vacation in the San Diego area, where I stayed at a well-known inn. However, the consumer alert from this experience could apply to any U.S. destination, and to any establishment in the hospitality industry. It isn't my intent to single out San Diego, which is a lovely town for vacations, with many attractions in the area to visit. These include Mission Bay, Seaport Village, Star of India, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park in nearby Escondido, shopping malls, and much more.
Since I had arrived at about 3 p.m., I was able to check in at the inn, and make several trips in the elevator up to the fourth floor, with my mismatched, clunky luggage.
I even had time to unpack and freshen up, before finding my way to an evening business reception 3 miles away. However, I know now what I didn't know before -- anyone can walk into a hotel that has inside corridors, and get all the way to the top floor without being challenged!.By the time I left at 5:15 p.m., two flyers had been pushed through the door to my room.
I put the flyers on the table, and left a light on. When I returned to my room, I read the flyers. Both were from pizza delivery services, and had I not already eaten, I would have been tempted to order from one or the other. The prices seemed reasonable.Next evening, when I returned to my room from the day's meetings, two more flyers had been pushed through the door.
On the third day, I was back in my room early enough to actually be there, when one of them came through. The person seemed flustered that my security locks were on, and had trouble finding space to shove the flyer through. At first, I thought someone was trying to get inside.Because I was nervous, I decided to check the Guest Services Directory to verify how to summon help. Obviously, I had checked to see where the Fire Exits were -- upon arrival -- but I hadn't bothered to open the directory. (I'd been to this area numerous times before, and stayed at a variety of hotels and motels.
) What did I find in the directory but a Consumer Alert on a small laminated card, tucked inside the front pocket. It was underneath a laminated menu from a local restaurant.To paraphrase here, but to retain the meaning of the verbiage, the alert read as follows: Many pizza delivery companies are putting unauthorized flyers underneath our room doors. Please do not contact any of these companies. Instead, contact the Front Desk at extension "0" for recommended quality restaurants.
This alert should have been displayed prominently in the room, not tucked away where guests were not going to find it. Few guests look in the directory when they are frequent visitors to an area. Perhaps these vendors are harmless people, trying to make a living; perhaps they are not. The fact is they should not have been walking around inside the building.It did not make me feel safe, knowing that unauthorized persons could so easily get into the inn during evening and night hours, and probably during the day. Worse, they could, and did, get all the way up to the fourth floor, and probably higher.
The two additional safety locks, in addition to the lock and the deadbolt on the door, now made sense.Will I stay at this establishment again? No, I will not. It was enough that the room was very noisy at night, being too close to the freeway on that side. No wonder their online discount was such a good deal.
The lack of security, as evidenced by the pizza flyers, was the last straw. If their hidden consumer alert had been a sincere attempt to protect their guests, it would have been displayed openly. In addition, hotel security should have been walking the halls to foil unwelcome visitors. In a nutshell, fellow travelers, we now have something new to worry about, when making reservations.
So, please stay alert, and stay well!.© 2006 Shirley Ann Parker..
Shirley Ann Parker is a full-time technical writer, who sometimes travels to business conferences on the West Coast and in Las Vegas. She also writes fiction, feature articles, and informational web sites. Visit her website at http://www.
shirleyannparker.com to read excerpts from her short story collection Discoveries: A Journey Through Life, and learn more about her other writing. Discoveries is available from http://www.bbotw.
com and other online bookstores.
By: Shirley Ann Parker