An Example of How NOT to Build Word of Mouth for a Hostel

You’re lucky I didn’t throw your bag out with the trash.

Those are the words I was greeted with after the final day of Startup Weekend Amsterdam. Really? That’s how you treat your customers? Threatening to throw their bags out with the trash? Yeah, there’s a smart way to run your business. Yes, I’d say Europe needs some customer service lessons. For starters, you don’t generate positive word of mouth by threatening your customers and making them feel like crap. That seems to be a pretty simple concept, but I guess not a lesson everyone has learned.

I realize that checking out in the morning and leaving a bag until 9 pm isn’t normal. That said, I did ask the person working in the morning if I could leave my bag.

They said yes. I didn’t specifically tell him the bag would be there until the evening. The night receptionist told me that “bags can be stored for up to 3 hours after checkout” is written all over signs everywhere in the hostel. That may be true, but I never saw those signs. I’ve been to a ton of hostels all over the world, and never has someone tried to enforce a hard time limit on storing bags after checkout. I apologized for leaving my bag there longer than normal, and he proceeded to tell me that I was extremely lucky this time that the bag was still there. I would have been happy to pay a few Euros for the inconvenience — but instead they jumped straight to making me feel like an asshole. Not the way I want to be treated by the staff of a place where I’ve spent over 200 Euro.

There’s one thing I know for a fact. I will never say a good thing about Cosmos Hostel Amsterdam to anyone ever again. It’ll always be the Amsterdam hostel that I warn people against staying at. Well done, Cosmos Hostel Amsterdam. Well done. You just lost a customer — and all the WOM potential that goes with that customer — for life.

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Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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