Saturday 10th May, 2014. We checked in online the day before to speed up the process when we arrived. We got there at 16:30 expecting to whiz through reception and up to our room but instead we were greeted by utter confusion. Due to a BT malfunction, their broadband was down and consequently, no booking system. One would imagine that they would have a contingency plan to set in motion should a disaster like this occur. Nothing of the sort. The staff were utterly overwhelmed and there was no senior manager around to take charge and organise. There must have been at least 40+ people trying to check in. Although there were quite a few staff around, only one was able to manually check in each individual customer and consequently, it was taking ages. The staff were trying to be helpful but they were each telling customers conflicting instructions so no one knew what to do and everyone was very confused.
I asked one young man for the name of the duty manager and where he or she was. He said his name was Kirk. I asked again for his surname and he replied that he didn't know what it was! I found this quite incredulous. How can he work for someone but not know his full name. He did say that although he should be on duty no one knew where he was. Finally, a member of staff took charge and organised two queues; one for pre paid and one for cash. As their booking system had completely failed, they were unable to take card payment at the reception, Costa Coffee or in the restaurant.
Having queued for 40 minutes, Kirk the duty manager finally put in an appearance. However, he was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Although very apologetic, he looked totally bewildered and when I spoke to him his eyes were glazed over and looked akin to the saying of "there was a light on but no one home". He apologised then wandered off and we continued to queue.
It was just over an hour when we got to the front of the queue. This consisted of four members of staff crowded over a lap top. One then bellowed across the reception to another member of staff, some 15 to 20 feet away, for a double room number. She then mentioned to us that they were trying to find some walkie talkies but not sure where they were. After six times of asking, a room number was shouted back. Using a manual reader they were able to activate the card key for our room. More apologies were given. We said thank you and made our escape from the chaos.
Seeing that Premier Inn is a flagship enterprise of Whitbread PLC you would imagine that they would have procedures in place for these kinds of scenarios. Technology is fantastic when it works but when it goes wrong, generally it is a nightmare for everyone. The duty manager should have been on the floor from the outset; visible to everyone and seen to be organising. The staff were all very young and obviously with little experience but trying their best.
An hour or so later, we went back to reception to go to the Costa Coffee bar and the situation remained the same; huge long queues of very disgruntled customers trying to check in.
We use Premier Inns quite often and will continue to do so as they are good value and generally never a problem. This event was incredibly annoying and could have easily been managed far better with simple clear organisation. Had this have happened, customers would have been more understanding.
Also, it would have been pleasing to have received a formal written apology from Premier Inn. Many of those affected will have booked by email so the contact details would have readily been available. But of course, this simple gesture probably never occurred to them. After all, many of us had paid in advance so why should they care.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This Premier Inn is directly opposite the main entrance to the North Terminal, offering free transit to the South Terminal which takes only 2 mins. This new hotel is located within easy reach of the M25 and M23, providing a Costa coffee store, Thyme restaurant and bar, business lounge and express check-in. This hotel does not have its own car park however, parking is available at a discounted rate (19.50 GBP for 24hrs) for Premier Inn guests at the North Terminal short stay car park. This is payable at reception on production of your parking ticket. NOTE - Multiple hotels are located in the area, please ensure you have selected the correct hotel before completing your booking. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Premier Inn London Gatwick Airport (North Terminal) Hotel Crawley, West Sussex