Friday, October 29, 2010

My Job Description

I've seen this before, floating around the internet. We also have a copy on the bulletin board at work. It's really the perfect description of what I do.

"I am a Front Desk Agent"

I have advanced degrees in Accounting, Public Relations, Marketing, Business, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, and Swahili. I can also read minds.

Of course I have the reservation that you booked six years ago even though you don't have the confirmation number and you think it was made under a name that starts with "S".

It is completely my fault that the blizzard shut down the airport and you have to sleep in a warm king-size bed while 5000 of your co-travelers are sleeping in benches at the airport. I am sorry.

It is not a problem for me to give you seven connecting, non-smoking, poolside suites with two king beds in each, four rollaways, 3 cribs, and yes, I can install a wet bar. I know it is my fault that we do not have a helicopter landing pad.

I am a Front Desk Agent. I am expected to speak all languages fluently. It is obvious to me that when you booked your reservation for Friday on the weekend we're sold out that you really meant Saturday. My company has entrusted me with all financial information and decisions, and yes, I am lying to you when I say we have no more rooms available. It is not a problem for me to quickly construct several more guest rooms. THIS time I will not forget the helicopter landing pad. And it is my fault that everyone wanted to stay here. I should have known you were coming in, even though you had no reservation. After all, you stay at our brand of hotel all the time, 300 nights a year, and this is only the first time you've ever been to our city.

I am a front desk agent. I am quite capable of checking three people in, two people out, taking five reservations, answering fifteen incoming calls, delivering six bath towels to room 625, plunging the toilet in room 101, and restocking the supply of pool towels, all at the same time. Yes, I will be glad to call the van driver and tell him to drive over all the cars stuck in traffic because you've been waiting at the airport for 15 minutes and you've got jet lag.

I am a front desk agent, an operator, a bellhop, houseman, guest service representative, housekeeper, sales coordinator, information specialist, entertainment critic, restauranteur, stock broker, referee, janitor, computer technician, plumber, ice-breaker, postman, babysitter, dispatcher, laundry cleaner, lifeguard, electrician, ambassador, personal fitness trainer, fax expert, human jukebox, domestic abuse counselor, and verbal punching bag. Yes, I know room 112 is not answering their phone. And of course I have their travel itinerary so I know exactly where they went when they left here 9 hours ago, and what their cell phone number is.

I always know where to find the best vegetarian-kosher-Mongolian-barbecue restaurants. I know exactly what to see and do in this city in fifteen minutes without spending any money and without getting caught in traffic. I take personal blame for airline food, traffic jams, rental car flat tires, and the nation's economy.

I realize that you meant to book your reservation here. People often confuse us with the Galaxy Delight Motel, Antarctica. Of course I can "fit you in" and yes, you may have the special $1 rate because you are affiliated with the Hoboken Accounting and Bagel Club.

I am expected to smile, empathize, sympathize, console, condole, upsell, downsell (and know when to do which), perform, sing, dance, fix the printer, and tell your friends that you're here. And I know exactly where 613 Possum Trot Lane is in the Way Out There subdivision that they just built last week.

After all, I AM a Front Desk Agent!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You're Not That Special

At my new job, I only work the morning shift. So I don't do many check-ins. Which kind of makes me sad, because I like checking guests in. Except when they're like the woman from this afternoon.

She came in and was a rewards member, the second highest level. Or third, depending on how you look at it - the highest level also has a special, more elite level. So she's the second or third highest level, which really isn't all that special. We're a business hotel - we have dozens of people who check in every day who are the highest level.

But I'm checking her in and she asks to be upgraded. I say no. At this hotel, they really don't upgrade people that often. Or when they do, they're company VIPs rather than rewards members. We had a member of the highest, most elite level request an upgrade today and they wouldn't give it to him. So she's certainly not getting one.

She complains that at other hotels she always gets upgraded, and she never does here. I tell her I'm sorry, and that even higher members don't usually get upgraded. She complains some more, sorry, sorry, and she goes off to her room.

She calls down a few minutes later. Upon check-in, I gave her the member's package, which is keys and a keyholder thanking you for being a member, and a coupon for breakfast. She says she noticed that I gave her a package for members, and wants to know if there's a package specifically for her level. WTF? I tell her no.

"Oh, really? That's silly."

She calls back a few minutes later, wanting to speak to the sales manager. Presumably about the upgrade she didn't get. I connect her to the sales manager, who isn't there. So she calls back again, wanting to speak to the guest services manager. I tell her to leave a message on my supervisor's voicemail. This woman is a pain in the ass.

So I go back and tell the assistant GM about her. I don't even say her name, and she knows who I'm talking about. She's stayed 8 times previously and been upgraded twice. During one of her previous stays, she heard a man who had fallen out of bed yelling for help and alerted hotel personnel - and then ASKED TO BE COMPENSATED FOR HER GOOD DEED.

Thank god she doesn't stay that often.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My New Job

So, in the 2 1/2 weeks since my last post, I have started my new job. All in all, I'd say it's going okay so far...not great, but okay.

I started on a Sunday (10/10/10 and 5 weddings staying - can people please choose a more original date to get married?!?!), which was an idiotic move on the hotel's part, since there was of course no manager there to train me. Although perhaps this was not a mistake on the their part, as I thought, because in the two weeks I've been there I've received little to no training. I went into a few rooms on my own - that was my tour of the rooms - and wandered around the hotel's lowest level - that was how I found the fitness center. Apparently this is not unusual - they don't seem to believe in training at my new job. I've been asked things - where the fitness center is, do we have irons in the rooms, how many people do the suites accommodate - and been unable to answer them. Sigh.

Additionally, there are supposed to always be two people at the front desk. Riiiight. Sometimes what happens is there are two people on paper, but the front desk supervisor is the second person and she stays in the back all day. Otherwise, I'm always with the same guy, who is nice but takes frequent breaks to make phone calls or go bullshit in the back office.

Oh well. At least I'm making more that I did before, I have a set schedule, and I get (some) tips from driving the hotel shuttle. I'm only going to be there for 11 months anyway.

My first story from this place soon to come. This guy was genuinely delusional. If it wasn't so pathetic, it would be funny. Oh was.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Better View

Even though I have completed my last shift at my previous hotel, I still have stories to tell. Like this past Sunday. That was my first ever Sunday afternoon shift, which is supposed to be a pretty quiet 8 hours. And it was. Except for this one couple.

A fairly young couple, they come in right around check-in time with their baby. I put them on the second floor, front-facing. Now, at the hotel, neither side is really all that great - the front faces a major highway, the back faces railroad tracks. The back is supposedly quieter. But as Expedia travelers, these people get the front.

After about 10 minutes, the husband comes down to get some things from the car. As he walks back in, he stops at the front desk. Here we go...

I give him a fake smile and ask, "Is there something I can help you with?"

He shifts back and forth. "Umm, could we move to a higher floor?"

Great. I give him another fake smile. "Let me check if anything's available." Meaning, is there anything front facing on the fourth floor that hasn't already been blocked. Because I'm not breaking any blocks for this guy and I'm not putting him in the back. You'll see why in a minute.

I find a room on the fourth floor and go to his reservation to transfer him. As I click away on the keyboard, I ask him, "Is there a problem with the room?"

"Umm, no, we just want to be on a higher floor, better view and all that..." He gives a nervous laugh as I look at him incredulously. A better view of what? The highway and all the shopping centers in the next town over? Because that's the view. We're off a highway, which lets off onto a route with tons of shopping centers. There is no view.

I ask him if the room's been used and he says no, so I give him the new keys and tell him to bring back the old ones. Fifteen minutes later, he brings back the old keys and I ask how the new room is.

He gives another nervous laugh. Maybe he can tell I'm judging him. "It's good. It feels nicer, you know, just being on a higher floor..." Another nervous laugh. My eyebrows go up as I give him another look. He feels more important being on the top floor? Or maybe he just feels taller - he's a small man. I take the keys and tell him to have a good night - meaning go away and don't bother me again.

I repeat this when they ask for a crib two hours later.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm Leaving!

So, I have some exciting news to share with you, readers. I'm leaving! Leaving! Leaving! Now, I shouldn't be too excited about leaving my little 104-room hotel, because I'm just moving to another one, but I am. Ah, the anticipation.

The new one is bigger, supposedly more organized, newer, and more expensive. I say supposedly more organized, but after thinking about it, I realize that any other hotel will be organized that the last one. Plus I'm getting paid more, there will be two people at the front, and I'll get tips from driving the shuttle in the morning.

The only downside is that I will pretty much only be working the morning shifts, and I am so not a morning person. But I will probably have some more stories for you all, since I won't be doing any complaining about guests to my fellow hotel staff. For the first few months, anyway.

I start next week.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gritting My Teeth...

This is un-fucking believable. People are disgusting pigs, assholes, insert your choice word here. Unreal.

My hotel is located fairly close to West Point Military Academy, and this weekend is homecoming weekend. Upon their return from the game, several families asked me if they could hang out in the breakfast room. Figuring that they just wanted to eat dinner and hang out for a bit, I said yes and warned them to keep the noise down. You see, these families checked in last night at around 10 PM and promptly stared screaming, yelling, and drinking beers. I got phone calls from nearby rooms asking me to shut them up! So I tell them to keep the noise down and they say it would be worse if they go up and hang out in one of the rooms. Fine, whatever.

Well, little did I know that they planned to use the breakfast room as if it was a kitchen in one of their homes! Out come the coolers, the beers, and the drink shakers. And the noise. I'm standing here, gritting my teeth, having told them repeatedly to keep it down and wondering about my options for kicking them back to their rooms.

These people are fucking ridiculous. One of the men came to the front, with his beer, to ask about the channels for the TV in that room. Since they're not the same as they are in the rooms, I don't know what they are. I tell him this.

"Oh. So you don't know if there are any of the regular channels on it. Because we're trying to watch and we're really not getting what we want."

Well, that makes two of us then. I wanted a nice quiet Saturday night, but it seems I'm not going to get one. I am so tempted to say this to him, but manage to restrain myself and simply shake my head no.

"So who handles the channels then?" Umm, Comcast or whoever our cable provider is? I have no idea. "There's no maintenance man to handle this?" Again, no. "Then who helps you?" NO ONE, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!! Otherwise, I'd have kicked them out by now, because there'd be someone to help me with this group of drunk idiots and the mess they're going to leave.

Then, the cherry on top of a truly fantastic few hours. One of the drink morons knocks over a huge cooler, which was once filled with ice but is now mostly water. I stare at the mess, my face white and pinched. These people are getting on my last fucking nerve. One of the women volunteers to clean it up, and we go get a mop and bucket. I go back to the desk, and the woman starts cleaning up. And then the TV asshole from before comes back.

"Why are you doing that? Why isn't there someone from the hotel to do that?" Umm, seriously? I stare at him and try not to burst into hysterical laughter. He wants me to clean up the mess these drunk idiots made? He continues, "I'm serious! Let me get a video of this. I'm going to put it on YouTube and send it to your CEO!"

The woman cleaning up tells him she volunteered, and he continues to make asinine comments while she cleans. He pulls out his phone and after the woman finishes and I put the bucket away (and tell her, again, to keep the noise down) I come back to more idiotic comments.

"Is it on YouTube? Yeah, it's up! You're on YouTube! You're on YouTube!"

And they're still here. Time is just dragging by. I would looove to kick them out, but I don't want to deal with the scene they're guaranteeeeed to make. Fucking assholes! If you don't know how to behave in public, stay home!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Very Old Post

I've been meaning to post these stories for the last three weeks, but just never seem to have the time. However, now that I'm at work with nothing to do...

This was a particularly noteworthy Saturday night. Two customers booked the wrong room type, and a third booked a room with Expedia/, who never sent the reservation to our system. Lovely.

Story #1 - the first guy pulls in driving a fairly large moving van. I'm checking him in, and see the note in the reservation that says "2 beds". However, what he's booked (and paid for) is a room with one bed. He asks about this as I'm checking him in, and I tell him it's one bed. Cue the fireworks.

"What?!? What do you mean it's one bed? Expedia told me it was two! I need a second bed!" etc, etc, etc.

It was actually sort of entertaining - my father's a yeller, so it doesn't really bother me when people raise their voices, but two older guests in the lobby became very concerned. They hung out for a while, peeking outside while the man yelled on his cell phone, and when I said that I was fine and they could go upstairs, told me to call them if I needed any help.

The guy came back in, a little calmer, and said Expedia had told him it was two beds, and he needed another bed for his father, who was in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank. They were traveling down the coast and were stopping for the night. I felt bad for him, but I didn't have two beds. So I got him a rollaway for his room and offered to help him book a reservation for the next night in Virginia, to make sure he got his two beds. More on that later. He thanked me and said he was going to sue Expedia.

Story #2 - this guy was an asshole. He came in and checked into his room with one king bed. During check-in, he asked me if it was a room with two beds. I say no, that it's a king, that's what he booked. He says his secretary booked that for him and he needs two beds. Which we don't have.

He tells me that maybe he'll just go to the rival hotel chain down the street. I say that he can do that, absolutely, but at this point it's too late to cancel his reservation (Expedia's policy, not ours). We can make exceptions to our cancellation policy in certain circumstances - they do not. He leaves, without resolving his problem.

Only to call down from the room later that night, asking if we have any rollaway beds. I'd gotten several from the fourth floor closet that night, and knew that the ones remaining weren't ready. So I tell him no, we don't have any rollaway beds.

"You don't have any rollaway beds?!?"
And here was my fatal mistake, readers. "We have them sir, but we don't have any that are ready right now. They're dirty."
"Well, can't you bring some sheets up? We'll make the bed."

Now the problem with my hotel is that we don't have extras of anything. No blankets, no pillows. We do have sheets, but I have no idea what size they are, flat vs. fitted, whatever. So I tell him I'll go check. At this point, I probably have a bit of an edge to my voice, because he's being an asshole and I'm tired.

Evidently this pisses him, and he starts telling me how I might have had a long day, but he has too, and he needs a rollaway, blah blah blah. I don't say anything in response to this, because there's really no point in engaging with this man. Then he asks to speak to my manager.

Well...screw you, asshole, because it's a Saturday night and my manager's not here! I'm running this goddamn hotel all by myself, so excuse me if I'm not being as cheery and pleasant as you would like. It's been a long night running around getting things for guests and answering the phone every two seconds, as well as dealing with assholes like yourself. So I tell him my manager's not here, to which he reacts with complete disbelief. Like I'm lying. I tell him I'll check on those sheets and hang up.

I go into the back, get the keys to the housekeeping closet...and guests come in. So I'm checking them in and the phone rings. It's the asshole, wanting to know if I've found those sheets. Seeing as it's been two minutes (seriously, literally two minutes), the linen closet is on the third floor, and I lack the ability to fly, I tell him, no, I haven't. He starts bitching again and I say that I'm checking people in and I'll go check afterward.

So I send these people up to their room, pick up the keys to go check the closet, and who appears at the front desk? The asshole! I dangle the keys from my fingers and tell him I'm going to check right now. He asks if I want help and I snap out a curt "No".

Luckily, I am able to find one rollaway bed already made in the third floor closet, behind two housekeeping carts. Now, these things are heavy, and hard to move. I spend ten minutes maneuvering them aroung the third floor hallway so I can get the rollaway out. I take the rollaway to his room, and the guy he's sharing the room with opens the door. He takes the rollaway and I go back downstairs and tell asshole the rollaway's in his room.

"Really? That was fast!" His mood seems to be much enhanced, thanks to a woman sitting on the couch in the lobby. I smile grimly at him as he goes back upstairs.

The next day, I tell my manager the story and he says that guy came down and complained about me. WHAT. AN. ASSHOLE.

That guy's gotten me too worked up to tell the third. That memorable event to come later.