My good friend from college--we'll call her the Towel Fairy--was a music major, like me. Also like me, she was unable to find a "real" job after graduation and wound up in the service industry, working at a hotel desk. Many evenings have been spent loudly ranting about customers together over alcohol, comfort food, and Mario Kart.
The Towel Fairy has plenty of amusing and anger-inducing stories about her guests, but would first like me to impart some wisdom onto my readers about how to behave (and not behave) upon arrival at a hotel. Enjoy.
1. I will never understand why people continue to show up to check in to their hotel room without a single form of payment on them. No credit card, no company check, and no cash, not even a measly photocopy of a purchase order dating from weeks before. Even that I could work with. But no, guest after guest continues to come to the front desk with one thing to say: “My company was supposed to pay for it”. While that may be the case, your company should have done one of three things: 1) They should have faxed over a credit card authorization form. This form does exactly what you think it does. It authorizes the hotel to charge the card that was used to hold the room when the reservation was made for the cost of this guest’s stay. 2) They could have given you a company check, made out to the hotel that would have covered your costs. 3) They could have called the hotel directly before your arrival and transferred a deposit to your reservation through our accountant. They didn’t do any of these things? I’m not letting you into a room without a method of payment to authorize for your entire stay. Give me your personal credit card, get in touch with your contact at your company, or sleep outside, bitch.
2. We really don’t recommend booking your hotel room through a third party company. Always call the hotel directly. Sites like Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire purchase rooms from us at a discounted rate, which yes, helps us fill rooms. What they don't tell you is that your room is guaranteed for only two people (unless otherwise specified), that your smoking preference is not necessarily guaranteed and that you will be the FIRST person to be moved out of your chosen room type if we are overbooked. We also will move people WHO PAY THE MOST to the suites if we are overbooked on standard room types, not you. Honestly, using third party sites are a great way to save money if you’re making a quick trip or you’re short on cash. But seriously, don’t expect us to pull out all the stops for you. We want your business, yes. But your business is only worth about fifty bucks. Don’t expect complimentary up grades, free internet, or free breakfast.
We’d much rather give those things to someone who is paying $179 per night.
3. Always research the area to which you are traveling. If you do not like noise, DO NOT stay at an airport hotel. If you start complaining about the noise from the airport, the hotel staff will assume you are a moron. YOU booked this hotel, no one forced you to book it. If you want a lower rate, do not book in the middle of the city. Yes, it is convenient, but you will have to pay a hefty parking fee. There is never free overnight parking in any downtown area. You will also have to deal with more noise. All hotels post their information on the internet, on a printable page that outlines the features of the hotel.
Use this information to your advantage.
4. Do not complain about the quality of the towels, bedding, soap, shampoo, etc. We do not have a choice as to which of these things we purchase and use. Our brands have standards that we have to follow, or we pay fines. You will not get a discount if you complain about these things. We are not going to knock off fifty bucks because you didn’t think the towels were fluffy enough to soothe your sensitive skin as you dried off after your shower. We will simply come out and tell you that we are forced to purchase these things through our brand supplier.
And besides, how DARE you complain about the quality of things like shampoo and soap? They’re FREE, douche bag. Have you been to the grocery store lately? Sundries are incredibly expensive. Remember when the pioneers made soap? They used LYE, jackass. Be glad we don’t give you soap made from lye. And even if we did, I would still hate you for complaining about it. If you don’t like ours, bring your own. …Jackass.
5. If your room is not cleaned to your standards, please simply ask the front desk to have a housekeeper come by again. At this point, the management are usually the ones who will come and clean your room because they want to see for themselves where their staff is lacking. The management really does care what the rest of the staff does during their workday. Mistakes are made. You are not perfect in your job either.
6. If, during your stay, the housekeepers did not clean your room, or did not make your bed, it is nearly 90% of the time, the guests’ fault. If you leave your Do Not Disturb tag on the door, the only person who can go in your room is a manager. If your bed is not made, please look to see if you left personal items on the bed. The housekeeping staff is not allowed to touch your belongings.
7. If you have children, ask to be placed on a lower floor or in the rooms directly over the front desk or other non-room space. Then the kids can run around all they want and you wont get a phone call from the staff asking you to knock it off. We really do want you to enjoy your vacation, but not at the expense of the comfort of other guests.
8. If you EVER get violent with any staff member you will be forcibly removed from the premises, charges will be pressed, and you will be blacklisted from our hotel and the other hotels in the area. Neighboring hotels are our competition, but they are also our neighbors. And we love warning them about violent jerks like you. We don’t deserve your abuse, and neither do they.
9. If you are worried about leaving your valuables in the hotel room, don’t do it. There are safe deposit boxes available at the front desk for all guests, free of charge. All medication, jewelry, money, electronics, passports, important papers, can be locked away at the desk at your discretion. We trust our housekeepers, but we understand why people worry when it comes to items like passports and travelers checks. If you’re truly worried, lock the important items up at the front desk.
10. When we tell you that there is nothing we can do, it’s because of one of two things: 1. There really is nothing we can do because we are full, there are special circumstances regarding your reservation, etc. OR 2.You have been a complete jerk, we have lost our patience with you, and we don’t care if you have a nice day or not.
11. Do not take things from the rooms. Not the towels, blankets, pillows, ashtrays, NOTHING. The housekeepers do pay attention to inventory and we will charge your credit card. On the registration paper that you signed, it clearly states that any damages to the room or theft of items will result in charges to your card. And yes, you will find that reimbursing the hotel for a stolen item will cost about two times as much as buying that item in a store. Don’t steal.
12. We will post an extra cleaning fee to your room if you leave the hotel and it takes the housekeepers hours to clean up your disaster. They have the managers come upstairs and take pictures to prove that you’re a slob, and no fighting with your credit card company will help you. The hotel’s account with the card company is bigger than yours as a corporate business. Deal with it.
13. If you want a quiet floor, ask for the floor where the corporate travelers are kept. We put them on the highest floor of the hotel so that they won't be bothered. They spend 50 times what you spend in our hotel and are treated the best. We know all of their names, their wives’ names, even the names of their kids. We will pick up their dry-cleaning; have flowers sent to their wife for them or anything else. Corporate travelers are our favorite guests because they usually only have housekeeping come in every few days, don’t make any noise, are out early and back late and they don’t complain. Even when they do complain, it is in a polite way, and we are always more than happy to accommodate their request. These people are walking dollar signs. We want them to be happy.
14. If you are not traveling on government business, do not try to book the federal discounted rate. If you cannot produce a government ID upon check in, your rate will be changed to the normal rack rate for the day. We’re not stupid.
15. Don't try to cram 15 people in one room. You are breaking the fire code and you can absolutely be fined for this. We charge an extra person fee in the room because it costs us more in wear and tear, linen usage, water, electricity, etc. Sometimes, we will waive the extra person fee if you are nice. We’re flexible. But don’t bitch at us when your reservation stated that there would only be one person in the room (so you could get a cheaper rate), you booked a generic room type (also so you could get a cheaper rate), and we saw that information in the computer and put you in a room with one king bed. I don’t care that you showed up with 6 people. Unless you all like to cuddle, things are going to get awkward and you have no one to blame but yourself.
16. If you do not know the difference between a debit and a credit card, do not use your debit card. “But my debit card also functions as a credit card,” you say. False. Our credit card system cannot tell the difference and will deduct the money from your bank account electronically until well after you have checked out. We release the money back to you the day you check out. But it can take your bank up to 10 days to put it back in your account. If you cannot afford to have that money held up, hit the ATM and just pay in cash when you check in. It saves a lot of grief for both you and the hotel. This is why we ask for a credit card at check in, not a debit card. We will not send a fax to your bank telling them to release the funds immediately, ESPECIALLY if you have just accused us of stealing your money. We just assume you are an idiot. …. Which you are…. Jackass.
17. If you book an advanced purchase room, you will save a lot of money. TRUE! You receive this courtesy discount because you are guaranteeing you will be in the hotel on that date. By booking this rate you have agreed to pay for the room the second the reservation is made and you have agreed that this reservation is non-cancelable and non-refundable. We honestly don't care if Great Aunt Ruth jumped off a bridge, that Mittens was hit by a car, or that you’re in jail and can’t make bail. These things are not our fault. Sorry dude. But let’s be honest. You never really liked Great Aunt Ruth because she always gave you homemade socks for Christmas. You always liked Sparky way better than you liked Mittens and the vet bills were getting really expensive, what with Mittens’ kitty diabetes. And you wouldn’t be in jail if your idiot friends hadn’t egged you on in that bar fight last night, which you totally would have won except that guy was like wicked strong and had a definite advantage because he was only drinking light beer. It turns out carbs really weigh you down. So you lost $150 on a hotel room. Big deal. You have bigger problems. At least Sparky is still alive.
18. ALWAYS become a member of that hotels loyalty program when you sign in. Gold Crown Club, Choice Privileges, Wyndham Rewards, Priority Club Rewards, Hilton Honors, etc. Ask at the desk for them to sign you up. We get a bonus for signing people up, and sometimes we will up grade your room for free. A lot of times you will get free drinks, coupons, free bottled water or a snack, a pass to a manager’s reception, etc. Not to mention the fact that you earn points which add up to free nights or free stuff in the future.
19. If your secretary books your room incorrectly, don’t yell at the hotel staff. Your problem did not occur because of a mistake within our company, the mistake occurred within yours.
20. Don't smoke in a non-smoking room. We can tell if you did. We take pictures of the cigarette butts you leave behind. We really do charge that $300 smoking fee. And you won't get that money back.
In the e-mail the Towel Fairy sent to me she mused, "I just remembered I haven’t told you the one about the dead guy and the naked hooker. Perhaps another time."
Yes, another time. Definitely need to hear about that one.