Monday, April 6, 2009

Hotel Tips

I spent a good deal of my employment life as a slave worker in the hospitality industry. Most of this experience was spent behind the front desk, though I did have a stint in the executive offices (ah, the Monday-Friday 8-6 life. A rarity in the hotel business). Anyway, I feel this list is important to share.

Here are 10 tips for anyone planning to stay in a hotel:

1. Call ahead (maybe a couple days before or the night before) to confirm your reservation. That way if there is any problem or the hotel can't find the reservation, it can be resolved at that time - not when you are at the desk (and there are a bazillion other people in line waiting to get their rooms).

2. If a guest service agent (A.K.A. GSA) asks for your last name, please don't spout off your reservation number, unless the person specifically asks for it. You have no idea how frustrating it is to have this conversation:

"Last name please..."
"I have confirmation number 1234567"
"...right, but what is your last name?"
"I just gave you the confirmation number"

If they wanted the number, they would have just asked.

3. Your confirmation number is tied to your reservation. If there is a discrepancy with your rate, room type, etc. giving them the confirmation number again is not going to fix anything.

4.1. ROOM TYPES ARE NOT GUARANTEED!! I cannot stress that enough...especially if you book online. Yes, the screen said "king bed non-smoking," but in actuality you are REQUESTING a specific room type, not guaranteeing it. They should do their best at check in to get your room type you requested...but if they don't have it, please don't get mad. Getting mad won't get you anywhere (see point number 6).

4.2. Please know the difference between the words guarantee and request.

5. Having all of your documents out and ready is recommended. This includes any or all of the following (depending on where you go): Photo ID (drivers license, passport...), credit card (or other form of payment), and confirmation number (in the off-chance they can't find the reservation).

6. This is true for almost any hotel you go to...if you have a problem and want it resolved, getting mad will not work. Majority of the time you will get the absolute minimum that person can give you. If you are nice, they are more likely to give you free stuff not only for the inconvenience, but just because (side note: don't go to far...hitting on the GSA could backfire).

7. So maybe you are a frequent traveler...that's great! They appreciate your patronage, but don't throw it back in their face. Some properties offer more for their club members than others - if you end up at a property that gives you bubkis, don't scoff at it...just accept it and move on. Otherwise, you seem like a spoiled little brat and will probably incite a slew of evil hexes thrown at you when you're not around.

8. Walk in reservations are risky. While you can sometimes get a lower rate if you don't book a reservation in advance, you run the risk of not finding a room at all. There are several times a year that the whole city of Chicago (including properties at Midway and O'Hare) will sell much so that they have to relocate guests to the suburbs. If you still don't want to book a reservation, check availability over the phone yourself the trouble of walking to every property looking for rooms.

9. Relocations...while they aren't pleasant for the guest or the GSA, they happen. Hotels are just like airlines in this respect - they overbook on rooms. So, if you have to be relocated, stay calm...they'll take care of you. More than likely the GSAs have been yelled at all day and it doesn't help your cause if you do the same (I have a built-in emotional "off" button as a direct result of these situations). The hotel should pay for your room at another hotel and transportation costs. So look at it this get a free room - score! If you have a reservation, but think (or know) the hotel is sold out, ask if they are taking any volunteer relocations...this way you can get in on the free room deal as well.

10. Last but certainly not least - the employees are there for you, the guest. If you have a request, problem, recommendation, compliment, what have you...share it. You'd be surprised what they do for people each day just because you asked: complimentary ice cream from room service for a kid's birthday, complimentary upgrade for a newlywed couple...the concierge desk can even plan your whole weekend if you'd like (just remember to tip them and the doorman/bellman if used).

After re-reading this list, I realized I have some interesting stories from my time behind the desk. I think I'll revisit some of them for your reading enjoyment in the future.

* * * * *
Dance Party Time!
(Have no idea what I'm referring to? the bottom of this post)

Artist/Band: Katrina and the Waves
Song Title: Walking on Sunshine (how can you NOT dance to this song?!)
Kid-friendly?: Yep