Terror of Night Clerk Mike

DoubleTree Hotels just learned the hard way what kind of brand-bruising two angry men with PowerPoint can inflict.

It started in November when Tom Farmer and Shane Atchison, Web consultants from Seattle, were turned away from an overbooked DoubleTree Club in Houston at 2 a.m., even though they had a reservation. Unwilling to let it slide, they created a sweeping, tragicomic PowerPoint presentation documenting the incident and e-mailed it to the hotel and a few friends. Soon enough, of course, it was forwarded endlessly around the world and has now become one of the grandest viral brand assaults of the Internet age.

“Yours Is a Very Bad Hotel” includes some priceless pages. Among them are several “Quotations From Night Clerk Mike,” the Faustian villain (“I have nothing to apolo gize to you for,” he says at one point), as well as “The Career Path of Night Clerk Mike” (who may be happy now, but he’ll apparently be a septic-tank cleaner by 2014). Also worth a gander are pages exploring the defini tion of the word “guarantee” (as in, “guaranteed reservation”) and whether the authors will ever use Double tree again (it seems the chances of winning the U.K. Lottery—1 in 13,983,816—are better).

DoubleTree apolo gized and revised its employee-training system; parent Hilton Hotels donated $1,000 to charity on Farmer and Atchison’s behalf.

An overwhelmed Farmer is denying interview requests. But in the e-mail that came with the PowerPoint file, he admits, modestly: “We think we’ve made our point.”