Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review of Omni Hotel, Independence Park, Philadelphia

This is an accurate representation of a stay my wife and I were supposed to have at the Omni Hotel at Independence Park in Philadelphia.  Other hotel review sites on the web have a problem--they only include reviews of people that have stayed at the hotel.  They don't include the thousands that are screwed out of a stay by a shoddy hotel and is management.

In addition to reading views of customers who stay at each hotel, you may want to save yourself considerable heartache and grief by reading my story:

My wife and I planned to take a once in a lifetime trip clear across the country to view the hallowed grounds of our nation's history--the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Gettysburg and the 9/11 Memorial.  The first stop was Philadelphia, and as you can imagine for a trip thousands of miles away over 26 days, it takes considerable planning.  I first do extensive research on each facet of the trip, such as the least expensive and best flight, the best-reviewed places to eat, and the best hotels with the most going for them at the cheapest price.

Having decided on which places I wanted to book, I then secured reservations--in theOmni at Independence Park's case, I made it on  I did this seven months in advance--no problem ther, right?

Wrong.  Three days before we were set to arrive in Philadelphia, I got an e-mail from notifying me that the Omni was "overbooked" and had canceled my reservation.  You read that right. Someone who had done the best planning ahead and was the first one to book a room at the Omni during that time was the person the Omni chose to cancel in favor of someone who booked three days in advance who effectively stole the room from us.  Keep in mind that in the interim, I had called the hotel three separate times to confirm my reservation every few months, just to be sure they didn't forget and that everything was "on track".  You will note something else--the Omni never told me personally that my room had been canceled; they left that for  A personal phone call from hotel management would have been the professional thing to do, but a hotel has to be professional first.

They may have chosen the chicken way to do this thinking they wouldn't have to deal with me.  They were wrong.  Upon reading the e-mail, I immediately called the hotel and gave them holy hell.  Sure, overbooking happens, but you don't cancel someone who made a reservation seven months ago, you call the person that just booked with you and tell them about your mistake in showing a room was available.  It wasn't available; I had reserved it.  Despite my pleas, the Assistant Manager (the General Manager and the "Revenue Manager" we're both "gone for the day".) told me that he didn't think anything could be done about it.  Instead, he offered me a free stay at any Omni hotel.

First off, if the Omni couldn't get a reservation right in which they made good money on, why would I or anyone else think they would get a reservation right in which they made zero money?  Second, remember that my trip that I had booked seven months in advance was three days away.  You will also toe that nowhere in the story is there any mention of the Omni helping me to get a room elsewhere.  Not only had they given someone else my room, they thought this was just peachy.  They probably had considerable experience canceling people's rooms and didn't care what happened to them afterwards.

Of course by this time in the summer, all rooms anywhere near the city center were booked and I had to reserve a room at the closest hotel, 11 miles away!  Besides the fact that I had been treated so callously by the Omni at Independence Park, I was struck by the finality of it all.  With three days to go, the Omni easily could have switched course, given me my room back, and called the person who had gotten the room ours before.  But David, the Asistant Manager, already knew when I talked to him that I had no chance of that happening.

What I realized is that this situation didn't arise from the Omni accidentally overbooking and letting another individual get the reservation.  What happened was that a large corporation had decided to book the hotel for the entire week and they needed a large block of rooms.  It wasn't just me that got the cancellation, but hundreds of other people.i

I don't know how you judge hotels, but I consider the Omni's policy of canceling rooms by the hundreds so that a corporation of fat cats could stay there is n ot only misguided but shod dy management.

If this happened to me and hundreds of others that day, it's reasonable to think it is a normal occurrence for the Omni to do this.  You won't read about it on Epedia, Travelocity or Trip Advisor, for they only include reviews by people who stayed there.  But which would you rather have--a room where the paint is a little cracked or no room at all exactly three days before you were set to begin a 26-day trip?  So you'd best take my advice and never book any Omni hotel anywhere.  They will pull it from you without even telling you about it at the last minute and you will be left with nowhere to stay, or at least nowhere where you wanted to be!