Well, it’s a new year and I find myself with many new things to talk about. But before I fill you in on our latest investigations or begin waxing about things like the ZPF (Zero Point Field), Deja Vu, and the myth of linear time, I want to handle a bit of business I have been putting off for many months. I really thought I could get away with saying nothing but, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut. So, in light of the new year, and new beginnings and, more over, in light of regaining my freedom of speech, let me tackle an unsettling incident our team had the displeasure of experiencing. (If you were wondering at some point why we weren’t posting anything regarding our visits to our favorite location, this will help to explain why.)
In April of last year a friend of ours, who had a long-standing contract with the Queen Mary in Long Beach regarding paranormal research, assembled a group investigation. He went through all of the proper channels, but, at some point, there was a miscommunication. Though it was set up months in advance, he received a call the night before the investigation notifying him that the price of the event had increased by a whopping one-thousand dollars which he would be expected to provide before the investigation took place. Not only did they call the night before, but they called right before the offices closed for the evening leaving him little opportunity to call them back and discuss the matter. HE had to scramble to find someone he could talk to about the last-minute circumstances. After many calls, he was finally able to connect with the manager of attractions who informed him that his contract was void. As if it wasn’t unprofessional enough to change the terms of the agreement at the last-minute, the manager then proceeded to haggle over the price.
The next day when we all showed up for the investigation, we were greeted with hostility from that manager. Hackles rose on both sides as this manager mishandled the situation. As he handed out wristbands (This was a first. We all felt as though we were under house arrest.), he refused to field any of the group’s questions citing the fact that it wasn’t his job to “perform” for us (Yes. Those were his words). He informed us that if any of us were unhappy with the circumstances of the day’s event, he would be happy to refund our money and escort us off of the ship. Instead of diffusing the situation by making sure that the issues were resolved, he spent the better part of an hour (time we just paid for) butting heads with the more vocal members of the group. Before leaving, he told us that if any negative comments showed up on social media sites, we would be banned from the ship.
He was worried about us, yelping, facebooking, tweeting or blogging about our interaction with him. And his solution was to penalize us. That situation was an opportunity for him to show how well he could do his job and instead of seizing the opportunity, he demonstrated the depths of his ego and the lack of his managerial skills by fueling our anger and threatening our freedom of speech. Had he done his job, he could have had a large group of people flood social media with positive comments regarding the stellar customer service they received while aboard the ship. It happens for Disney all the time.
What he did not understand is that “performing” for us IS his job. He willfully passed up an opportunity to form a solid relationship with a group of writers, artists, archaeologists, historians, engineers, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives of varying ages, otherwise known as the ship’s demographic. It’s called damage control, an elementary skill at which this manager spectacularly failed.
Personally, I think the fear of bad publicity is just a cover. All of our complaints could have been quelled easily enough by a better attitude and some patience. Customer service. That’s business management 101. So why would a manager go out of his way to piss off a large group of people and make them not want to return? One word: Accountability. When five million dollars is allocated to hotel room improvements which consist of flat screen TVs and I-pod docking stations instead of keeping the ship from sinking, we complain. When industrial meat slicers are hanging out in the restaurant kitchens on original Art Deco dining tables, we complain. When the original cork flooring is torn up or red paint is spattered all over interior halls, we complain. And when they define a ballroom as having been restored because they tore up the original parquet flooring and replace it with cheap carpet, we complain. That probably makes us a huge pain in the ass to have around. Unfortunately for Evolution Hospitality, we aren’t going away.
What happened that day was small in the grand scheme of things. But it was representative of the same attitude exhibited by the other management companies that have come and gone. Evolution Hospitality had a chance to show they were different and instead, they proved they were the same if not worse than those that had come before them. It showed that they are not above unethical behavior. It demonstrated a management philosophy that values short-term monetary gain over laying a solid foundation for long-term growth. It painted the picture of a company willing to blame their numerous bad Yelp reviews on the customer instead of taking responsibility for their own poor choices. Above all else, it confirmed that, once again, a team has been hired that values its ego more than it values the ship’s reputation as a Southern California vacation destination and respected historic landmark.
I spent last year trying not to write about this. I skirted the issue numerous times because I felt I was unable to properly capture the scope of it with my words. I worried that I would offend someone or that management would find new ways to punish us for telling the truth. But no more of that. This is my new year’s resolution. I am going to write about things I feel are important. And I am going to do so with all of the passion I possess. That passion is a blessing for both the reader, and the ship. Once it dies, that is one less person who cares about what happens to her. It is one less person who stops fighting to fix the holes and the leaks and the faulty wiring. It is one less person who brings other people on board to spend money. And it is one less person to keep the memory of what the Queen Mary once was and the hope of what she could be, alive.
Written by: Heather of EVP of SoCal