Hampton Inn manager Marian Keith said that a steady influx of Hurricane Michael evacuees came through the hotel’s doors last Monday and Tuesday. Most of these were from the Panama City area. By Tuesday night, the Hampton Inn was at capacity. There were no more available rooms. When the Robinson family from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., entered the lobby, they were told that there were no rooms to accommodate the three adults and six children who were standing at the guest desk. April Robinson, who had been driving for hours in congested traffic begged for anywhere to sleep,”We will sleep on the floor,” she told attendant Ashley Smith and manager Marion Keith.
Keith and Smith discussed the situation and brought in Carolyn Mitchell, a member of the housekeeping staff, for her input. “We got creative,” Smith said. Keith offered the conference room for the family to sleep for the night. There were three cots available and the staff offered to make pallets for the kids to sleep on. Robinson and her family were grateful and accepted the offer.
Mitchell and Smith set the cots up in the conference room and used the Hampton Inn duvets for pallets. Although there was no place for shower that night, the conference room does have restrooms. The children enjoyed swimming in the hotel’s pool and just being out of the cramped cars.
April Robinson said that the makeshift hotel room was a “welcomed sight” and an experience that the family will never forget.
Keith stated, “In this business you have to make up your mind to be conventional or to put yourself in a guest’s position and offer what you have. We do everything we can in regards to emergencies. Guests’ needs are first with us.”
April Robinson wrote the following letter regarding her family’s experience:
“We are very grateful for the wonderful service and consideration that the people who work at the Hampton Inn, Jackson, Alabama. We stopped at several hotels that were booked. Ashley (Smith) made sure we had a place to stay. They had no rooms, but they were able to allow us to stay in the conference room. It was nice. It was an adventure for us. There are nine of us total. The kids really had a blast with all the extra space. Carolyn (Mitchell) went out of her way to provide top notch customer service. Both Carolyn and Ashley would check in and make sure everything we needed was at our fingertips. The manager (Keith) could have turned us away like the other hotels, but she didn’t. We appreciate that we didn’t have to drive many miles away to find somewhere to stay, especially since we left Florida to get away from Hurricane Michael. Thankfully, our home area did not get hit badly.” April Robinson, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
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