No rest for the hipsters!

This week, I had to travel to San Diego for business. I looked on for recommendations on where to stay. I was doing business at the Hotel Andaz in the Gas Lamp district. I did a quick review to see what the recommendations were for the hotel. Four stars. Good news.

I decided to fly out early, spend the weekend with a friend. We arrived late Friday afternoon. Renting a cab at the airport, we took the 15-minute trip to the hotel. The hotel is some sub-brand of the Hyatt Corporation. I don't know what their branding strategy is. I think this was a one-off hotel they could buy and put their name on and make some money. I don't know how it fits into the portfolio of what they offer traditionally. They are being opportunistic, I’m guessing, nice building, great location. Some money for renovation, boom, new niche hotel. Very hip.

Anyway, it was a renovation. I don't know what the previous building was. I now know that it should never have been a hotel.

Stepping out of the cab, we were acknowledged by the valet parking staff loitering on the curb. We elected to carry our own bags into the hotel. We were greeted by Kelli, a nice young woman about 26 years old, standing in our way, clutching an iPad as if it was the only solid thing in her life. The first, very peppy question out of her mouth was: "would you like a glass of wine?" Silly me, I thought I was checking in.

Apparently, with bags in hand, I am not supposed to be checking in, I am supposed to be ordering drinks. I didn't know whether the glass of wine was complementary or whether I was beginning to order something from the menu. Less than a minute in the door and I was confused.

The hotel is an ultra-hip place. Very cool colors, nice artwork, abstract faces woven into the area carpets, thumping Trance music. Too hip for me? Probably. Too hip for anyone? Maybe. I’ve been here three days and I’m still confused about what this hotel is intending for its customer experience since I checked in. I think they're confused too.

Spending money on furniture, paint and artwork does not a great customer experience make. While all that is important, it needs an educated touch, like an experienced chef and their spice rack. It should add to the flavor not be the entire dish. At the Hotel Andaz, it’s the whole dish. There is almost no substance here. No real care, no real thought given to the cohesiveness of the customer experience.

It's not good to confuse your customers. You know that, right?