Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa… so much potential, but ends up disappointing!

This summer I decided it was time to take my family on a memorable summer vacation. It had been nearly 3 years since we had been on a true vacation due to my work commitments after the company I work for was acquired. Don’t get me wrong, I still spent lots of time with the family, did some weekend getaways, and even had multiple “workations” where the family traveled with me and they played while I worked… but we hadn’t had a true “bona fide” vacation for way too long.

After looking at our options my wife and I agreed it would be great to visit Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. We figured this would be the perfect mix of driving distance from Seattle (14 hours), outdoor adventures, and great selection of hotels. I started mapping our journey and decided we would stop at Missoula Montana for one night, then head onto West Yellowstone Montana for two nights, and then Jackson Hole Wyoming for 4 nights and then map a new route home while in Jackson Hole. I don’t know about you, but we are pretty frugal with our money. When we go on vacation however we try to have a portion of the trip where we get to live it up for a few days too. We mostly stay at reasonable hotels under $150 a night and then we always pick one really nice resort type hotel in the $300 range that we stay at for a few days too.

Ok, so now that you know the back story and how amazing our trip was, let me focus on one part of our journey that had so much potential, but ended up disappointing…

When I was searching for hotels near Jackson Hole I found a lot of potential hotels that looked good, but decided to use Trip Advisor to find the “cream of the crop” for the price range I was looking for. I heard really good things about the Teton Village which is outside of Jackson and ended up looking for hotels in that area. I came across “Teton Mountain Lodge”. The reviews were amazing, it had 192 reviews and was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by those reviews… I thought to myself…. Jackpot! I went on their website and found a really good rate, plus I found a coupon to reduce the rate and give us a daily breakfast credit. I booked my reservation and was all set to go. I decided to call them the next day to inform them this was a special family vacation and we would appreciate a great room assignment. The person on the phone was VERY helpful and said I was booked on the 5th floor (top level) and facing the Teton Mountain range… perfect!

When we arrived at the Teton Mountain Lodge it was right at the foot of the Teton Mountain range and the scenery and hotel were both beautiful. I went inside to check-in and the front desk staff was again VERY helpful and welcoming, a bellhop was immediately there to help me and he was one of the best bellhops I have ever had. The bellhop gathered our luggage and room keys and we took the elevator to the second floor?? .. ok I wasn’t going to say anything even though I was a little surprised… we got off the elevator and walked down a long hall and took a left… but wait… the mountain was to the right… hmmm…. when he opened the room it was really VERY nice accommodations and had a balcony… so again I didn’t say anything. Once the bellhop left I decided to go out onto the balcony and check out the view… I still hadn’t decided if I was going to say anything to the front desk. When I opened the sliding glass door I immediately heard this really loud wind sound… it actually sounded like a hurricane! I looked down and there was a large metal grate on the ground floor the size of two large SUV’s…I think it might have been a really large air conditioning unit… whatever it was.. it was VERY loud! Plus the view although decent was of the valley NOT a view of the mountain!

I went inside and my wife asked me what was wrong… because I don’t have a great poker face. I told her I was pretty disappointed with the room because I had gone through so much trouble to make sure it was going to be that “cream of the crop” part of the trip. Yes the room amenities and decorations were great, but the valley view and the fact that I had a constant mechanical hurricane out my balcony really diminished my “value for price” assessment of the room. At that point I decided to approach the front desk with the issue and explain gracefully the whole situation.

The front desk supervisor was again VERY pleasant, but she was unable to find another room that night and said she might be able to move us up one floor and on the mountain side the next day… but we would need to be out of our room early in the morning and would not have access to our new room until late in the day. It sounded less than ideal because we have 2 young kids that sometimes need to take naps, but I told her I would talk it over with my wife and let her know. We decided it would be too difficult to repack everything and not have access to the room all day, so I called her and told her that wasn’t an option for us and we ended up staying in the mechanical hurricane room. When I asked her why we lost our assigned room she was not able to give me a straight answer. I found out from another staff person that the Teton Mountain Lodge is run like a hotel, but each room is independently owned and if one of the owners decides to come… even last minute… they get priority. That makes sense for the owners, but can leave guests like us out on a limb.

I bounced back and enjoyed our stay. The hotel staff was great, the food was good, the location was great, the room setup and d├ęcor was great… and overall it was a good stay, but on the day of check-out I decided to give them one more chance to recover my business and told the front desk manager what had happened. She was VERY polite, apologized, and even offered us one free night stay during our next visit. I know this was a nice gesture, but it just didn’t sit well with me or recover my loyalty. I would have much rather had a credit for one night rather than a hook to get me back for another visit. I thanked her and left still feeling disloyal to the Teton Mountain lodge.

After getting resettled at home and work for a few days I started reflecting on our trip… and then I received a email survey from the Teton Mountain Lodge. I took the survey to see what would happen… my whole blog is about “Fantastic Failures” and I wondered if I filled out the survey would I receive a follow-up and would they recover my business and loyalty. A few days letter I received a personal email from the front desk manager and she said she remembered talking to me at check-out and re-iterated her offer for a free one night stay in the future… I was really happy they followed up on the survey to “close the loop”, but if the offer didn’t sway me the first time it wasn’t going to work the 2nd either.

Yes the trip was fantastic, but as a Loyalty professional I like discussing my real life experiences here on my blog and what I find that make people loyal or disloyal… this is a perfect example. Since I run a Net Promoter Program, I asked myself:

On a scale of 0-10, How likely is it that I would recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to a friend or colleague?
My Answer when I checked out: 0
My Answer after the follow-up Survey and email: 2
My Answer if they would have given me a partial refund: Probably a 9

At this point I would NOT recommend Teton Mountain Lodge to anyone and even if I use that one night stay voucher, we’ll probably only stay there one night. This got me thinking about what was missing and how they could have better handled the situation… and it boils down to one thing… an open conversation on what it would take to recover my loyalty. If they simply ASKED “what” they could do… I probably wouild have asked for a one night credit… which would be the same cost as what they offered me without the “hook”. Yes, sometimes you get people who ask for the moon, but an open discussion leads to better outcomes and would have turned this failure into a Fantastic Failure!

Overall our trip was amazing and one of the best vacations I have been on in my life. We got a lot of quality time together as a family and saw lots of breathtaking nature scenery. Here is a small sample of some of the photos we took on this trip:

If you want more info on *Net promoter, please visit the Net Promoter Website

Other External Links:
Teton Mountain Lodge
Trip Advisor for Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Bain & Company
Satmetrix

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