Mom Had Reservations; The Groom Did Not

, , , , , , | Romantic | January 6, 2020

(I am the front desk manager at a hotel and we frequently have people calling to reserve blocks of rooms for large events such as hockey tournaments or weddings. In mid-August, a gentleman calls to reserve 15 rooms for his wedding in October. We discuss the prices and all the details and finalize the arrangement. I inform him that in order for us to honor the arrangement, he has to ensure that at least half of the rooms in the block are reserved by a specific date; otherwise, the block and the negotiated rate will be cancelled. We give him the option to either provide us with a rooming list so that we can reserve the rooms ourselves or to have his guests call us individually to reserve their rooms; he chooses the second option. We fax him a contract, which he signs and returns, agreeing to these terms.

A week before the October 1 cutoff date, I call him to inform him that we have not yet received any reservations for his block and ask him to please remind his guests that they need to call us to book their rooms. He tells me no problem; he will email everyone right away to remind them. Two days before the cutoff date, we call him again for the same reason; we get no answer and so we email him.

He responds the next day saying, “Push the cutoff date back a few days for me, please? I will have the rooms booked in a couple of days.” His original cutoff date was for ten days before the wedding; I push it back to five days before. The day before the new cutoff date, I call again and get no answer, and so I email him again telling him that I cannot push the date back any further and that his arrangement will be cancelled if the rooms are not reserved by the end of the night. He responds simply, “Fine, just keep one or two rooms for me just in case. Thanks.”

And so, the block is cancelled and with it, the negotiated rate. As a courtesy, I do reserve two rooms under his name at the original block, just in case, and inform my night audit clerk to go ahead and charge him a no-show fee on the two rooms if he doesn’t show up. On the day of the wedding, right around 1:00 pm, a bus pulls up out front. A lot of people get out and start lighting cigarettes while a young lady — [Customer #1] — and her mother [Customer #2] come in and walk up to the front desk to speak to my employee. [Customer #1]’s last name is the same as the wedding guy.)

Customer #1: “Hi! My name is [Customer #1] and we have a block of rooms booked here for tonight and tomorrow. Can we just get the keys and the rooming list so that we can get everyone settled before we sign all the registration cards and everything?”

Employee: “Oh… I don’t seem to… Let me just get my manager.”

(I have heard the entire exchange, so I’ve already come out of my office at this point to try to lessen the blow the lady is about to receive.)

Me: “Hello! My name is [My Name], and I am the front desk manager here at [Hotel]. Now, if I hear correctly, you are here for the block of rooms reserved under the name [Wedding guy]?

Customer #1: “Yes, he’s my fiancé. Does he need to be here for us to pick up the keys?”

Customer #2: “He’s at his uncle’s house preparing for his bachelor party. We can have him down here in maybe 20 minutes if this is an issue.”

Me: “No, no! That’s not an issue at all. However, we do have a little issue here. When your fiancé booked the block of rooms, we had him sign a contract stating that the rooms in the block would be reserved by the first of October, and he advised us that he would be having the guests call to make their own reservations rather than providing us with a rooming list. We have contacted him several times since then to remind him of his obligation to get these rooms reserved, and we even pushed the cutoff date to October 5 to accommodate your needs. Ultimately, the rooms were never reserved and your fiancé told us in an email to go ahead and release the rooms into our inventory and to just reserve two rooms for him just in case.”

Customer #1: “So… what are you saying? You gave my rooms away?”

Me: “Well, they were released into the inventory to be sold…”

Customer #1: “That’s bulls***! [Wedding Guy] is a smart, responsible man and he has kept me up to date on everything. There is no way he screwed this up so badly. I don’t believe it; you’re covering up for your own mistake, aren’t you? You sold my rooms and now you’re blaming my fiancé.”

Customer #2: “Honey, please, you’re getting all worked up…”

Me: “I have the emails here that we exchanged after I had already pushed back the cutoff date.”

(I grab the front desk monthly binder in which we keep any and all printed or written correspondence regarding reservations. I open it to the current day and pull out the sheets with our emails. She grabs the papers from my hands and her face starts to grow red. I can see she is holding back tears. Her mother is reading over her shoulder, and she has this look as though she knew something like this would happen.)

Customer #2: “Look, obviously he shouldn’t have been in charge of making these arrangements. He’s a construction foreman, not a wedding planner. This was nothing more than a misunderstanding. Can we just remake the booking? We’ve travelled eight hours already on that bus; we don’t mind waiting a few more minutes while you do a little magic in that computer of yours.”

Me: “Well, normally, I would have no problem honoring the original arrangement under these circumstances, but unfortunately, we no longer have 15 rooms available. There’s a major fall festival going on right now and…”

Customer #1: “I know there’s a d*** festival! Why do you think we came all this way to get married?! We’re getting married in the heart of [Local Provincial Park] and we’re doing the wedding shoot down by the fairgrounds in the pumpkin patch. I’ve had this all planned out for months and the weather is perfect. You’re not going to tell me that this is all ruined!”

Customer #2: “Honey, calm down. Go sit in the lobby and let me handle this. You need to stay calm for tomorrow.” *to me* “Isn’t there anything you can do for us?”

Me: “Well, I did reserve two rooms for you, as per his request, but aside from that, I’ve only got four rooms available to rent. Every other hotel in the area is booked solid tonight except for [Very Fancy Hotel that charges double what we do]. Last I checked, they still had two rooms left. The rooms I have are all singles, though; we have a lot of families in town for the festival, so the doubles were snapped up pretty quickly over the past few days.”

(By this point, the bride is sobbing uncontrollably in the lobby. Her mother goes to her and comforts her as some of the guests from outside start to come in to see what has happened. We end up having somewhat of an angry mob once the guests all find out what happened. We finally manage to make everybody understand that the rooms were never reserved and that the fiancé is to blame for it. I give them a total of six rooms — the two I had reserved and the remaining four — at the original discounted price. I also make arrangements to send a few people to the fancy hotel, and they agree to honor our price due to the circumstances. People end up sharing rooms and sleeping on mattresses on the floor. We set up a few people in an empty conference room on mattresses, as well, and a few more people head out of town to stay at little truck stop motels. In the end, everyone has a place to sleep. Strangely, I never do see or hear from [Wedding Guy]. The next morning, a tearful bride is sitting in our breakfast room, sobbing over a bowl of cereal.)

Me: “What’s the matter? Aren’t you excited for your big day? Don’t let this whole experience get you down; in 30 years you and your husband will be laughing about this with your grandchildren!”

(This sets her off crying hysterically. Her mother is sitting with her, calmly rubbing her shoulder.)

Customer #2: “There is no big day today, unfortunately. There was no bachelor party at his uncle’s; that brute never even came into town.”

Me: “Oh, my…”

Customer #2: “Yes, well, do you want to know what he told us last night? He is already married! He has three children! He didn’t mean to let it get this far, he says, so he deliberately screwed up the hotel arrangements in the hopes that my daughter here would call off the wedding herself. He had no intention of marrying her and we just wasted a whole lot of time and money.”

Me: “That… Wow, that is terrible. I’m so sorry.”

Customer #2: “Oh, no, don’t you be sorry. You did what you could for us. The way I figure it, at least this ended before they got married and had children and invested in a home. Now she knows who he really was. I could have told you a long time ago but–” *pats her daughter on the back* “–the young ones here are blinded by love.”

Me: “Well, I really hope she’s going to be okay.”

Customer #2: “Oh, she’ll be fine. It might take a while, but someday she and her future husband will be laughing about this horrible experience. Now that she’s not engaged, she’s free to go out and find him, right dear?”

Customer #1: “I want to find him, tie him down, and have my period on his face.”

Customer #2: “That’s the spirit!” *to me again* “See? She’ll be fine!”

(I never saw those people again after that day but I will never forget that experience.)

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