Jean Croker Petke

A Failure to Communicate

We landed in Ft. Lauderdale, a day prior to our cruise. The plane was on time and retrieving our luggage was quick.

With reservation in hand I called the hotel for their shuttle. “The driver is Eric,” the clerk said.  “He will be driving a white van with our phone number and logo on the side.” She verified the location where we were to wait.

We proceeded to the blue and white sign with the number 2 on it. Thirty minutes went by. Forty minutes.

I called the hotel. “The driver is stuck in traffic,” she said. “He will be there shortly.”

Another fifteen minutes went by — standing in the Florida heat with no convenient place to sit. We read the side of every shuttle that passed. Not one said Comfort Inn.

I called again. “He’s right there now picking you up,” she said.

“He’s not here unless he’s driving a Holiday Inn shuttle,” I replied, not so patiently.

“That’s him,” she said. I glanced at the side of his van and there was the phone number I had called. No Comfort Inn logo was visible.

“Are you Eric?” I said to the driver.

“Where have you been? I’ve been past here many times and could not find you.”

“We’ve been right here, waiting. Our reservation says Comfort Inn so we were looking for a van with that logo.”

“We are not the Comfort Inn,” he said, as he checked my reservation. “We are the Ft. Lauderdale Airport/Cruiseport and our name is about to change again.”

Assured this was the right van and the right driver, we got in, still wondering how it had all gone so wrong.

We arrived at the hotel, amidst cranes and scaffolding and construction trash. It reminded me of India, so many years ago: grey concrete, wood planks, the area in seemingly total disarray. Our travel agent had assured us that, though expensive, this was a good hotel. He had stayed there himself.

The lobby was barely large enough for the six of us who had arrived from the airport. I explained the confusion to the clerk about the hotel name. He had no explanation for error, then upgraded us to a suite. It was clearly a case of “failure to communicate.”

Perhaps the hotel name had changed after we made our reservation and before we arrived.

Perhaps someone forgot to change the name on one of the internet sites.

Perhaps it was the universe trying to dampen our enthusiasm for our cruise.

In retrospect, one thing could have prevented the problem. On the initial shuttle phone call, the clerk said their logo would be on the van. Had I verified the hotel name at that point, the problem would have been discovered and resolved. Never having had such a problem, it didn’t cross my mind to verify the name of the hotel. From hereon, I will double check.

We were grateful we arrived the day before our cruise, so the shuttle debacle had no impact on our trip, except for making dinner late.

By the next morning, the experience was behind us and remained untouched for the next eleven days.

Even the best organizational skills are no guarantee against failure to communicate.

Until next Tuesday . . .



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