Monday, January 31, 2011

Private Things Should Be Done In Private

At my old hotel, I once read a GSS (guest satisfaction survey) that said our public computer should be in a more private area. It was in a very public space - by the front desk, next to the breakfast area door, so anyone who walked by could see the screen - but who cares? These computers are for essential internet usage: checking email, looking up directions, printing out work documents. They aren't there so people can spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social networking site you use to inform people that you're cleaning the house today. Upon reading this GSS, my manager remarked, "What does he need privacy for? So he can watch porn in the lobby?" Apparently, that's exactly what he needed it for.

At my current hotel, we have a business center with two computers, and a wall shielding the space from the rest of the lobby. Last week, my co-worker walked back there and returned to inform me excitedly that a guest was watching porn on one of the computers. Needless to say, I was surprised - though perhaps I shouldn't be, since the only pay movies the guests watch are porn.

"How can he even get to that?" I asked. "Isn't it blocked?"

Our AGM told us grimly that it should be, and she was calling internet support to find out why it wasn't. And that guest became known as "the guy who watched porn in the business center."

Seriously, do your private business in private.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Strange Phone Call

Why is it that there are so many weirdos who call my hotel? Is it that phone calls give them the safety of anonymity, so they can't see me laughing at them (not that I actually do that in front of guests)? Maybe it was a joke - I hope so, but I doubt it.

So this guy calls today, tells me he's from some travel website I've never heard of. I tried looking it up later and I don't think it was legit, so maybe it was a joke. But anyway, he tells me that he recently stayed and took some pictures for his website. Only problem is, he missed the breakfast area. So he wants me to "take a couple pictures with my cell phone and send them to his phone."

"Excuse me?"

He repeats himself. I briefly consider sending the phone call to my manager, but decide I will assist with this ridiculousness. I tell him no, but there are pictures of the breakfast room on our website that he can use.

Yes, he says, but they don't really reflect the actual lighting, and they make the space look bigger than it is. And a picture taken with a cell phone will give a more accurate rendering? Plus, I've gathered from what he's saying that he thinks the pictures on our site look too good, so he thinks an employee of the hotel will send him pictures to make it look worse? No. At times, I may not like my job, but that doesn't mean I want to lose it. I tell him, sorry, but no. He thanks me and hangs up.

That had to be a joke, right?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Public Service Announcement

Greetings, readers. This is a public service announcement brought to you by your friendly FrontDeskGirl. A warning before I start - this has nothing to do with hotels, so if you're not interested, stop reading now.

I work at the front desk of a hotel. I also work as an SAT tutor. I don't usually do tutoring on my own; instead, I work for a local learning center. And I have to say, I am horrified at what our schools are producing. And before all of you jump down my throat for saying that, consider this - bright, academically inclined people will do well in any school. It is how our schools teach the not-so-academically inclined children that is the real test of their effectiveness. And from what I see, that isn't very effective at all.

I had an 11th grader come in who could barely read. A girl who, when I said the SAT is designed as an objective test, asked me what the word objective meant. Another student who couldn't recognize exponents. One couldn't tell me the difference between "it's" and "its".

So, my PSA announcement is this. Parents, make your children READ. Yes, I said make (as in force) them. And I don't care if that stifles their independence or creativity or whatever the fuck child psychologists say it is they need these days. Otherwise, your child will be coming to see someone like me when it's time for the SATs. And no matter how good I am, I can't make up 5 years of vocabulary, reading skills, and grammar knowledge in 5 months. Don't worry about the math for now - a lot of that can be taught. What is hard to teach is reading comprehension and vocabulary - because those are skills your kid should have been building his whole life! It doesn't matter what it is they read - just that they're reading.

So make them start. Today. I may start crying if I see many more kids like this.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Complaining and Why You Should Do It

Yes, readers, you read the title of this post correctly. People should complain when they are unhappy, and here's why.

This morning, a guest came to the front desk wanting to change rooms. When someone wants to change rooms, I will ask if there's a problem with the room, so maintenance can take a look if there is, but otherwise I don't care why. If people want to move, they can move. Whatever.

So this guy came to the front and tells us his neighbor must have sleep apnea because he kept him up all night with his snoring. Our walls are not that thin, so this neighbor must have been really loud. I find the guest a new room in a corner, so only one neighbor, and he thanks me. I then took him on the shuttle, and he thanked me again. He seemed somewhat apologetic about wanting to move, but he shouldn't have been. I was happy to move him - because I want the guests to have an enjoyable stay.

Look, people, you go and stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, really anything in the hospitality industry - the staff there want you to be happy. Do you think I want a guest to leave having had a miserable experience? No. And that is why you should complain - so we can fix it promptly and you can leave happy.

There was a woman who came to the front Monday morning with a laundry list of complaints - no refrigerator in the room, the tap water wasn't clear, and a few other things that aren't important enough for me to remember. We look up her bill and I see she was comped Friday night due to the New Year's Eve noise next door. Then the front desk person who comped her Saturday morning came by, and I tell her this woman came to the front to complain.

"She came down to complain again?" she said incredulously. "About what?"
I shrug. "She said there was no refrigerator in her room."
"She never said anything about that to me!"

Of course she didn't. Either she was biding her time so she could get more money taken off, or she didn't want to complain. I'm guessing the former is more likely. But had she complained, she would have either been moved, or the issues in her room would have been fixed. Then she wouldn't have had such a bad experience during her 25th* (her words) stay at our hotel.

So, please, complain. That's kind of why we're here.

*How many times did she actually stay previously? Five.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Employee Rate

There are two kinds of people that use the employee/family and friends rate. Some are actual employees. They usually go out of their way to be as little trouble as possible. I once had someone call from the next county over, on a highway that I'm not really familiar with. I got on Google Maps to try and help, and the entire time the woman was asking if I needed to go, very understanding about being put on hold, and just so nice. I marveled at these people, and when they arrived I realized the reason behind it.

The second type are the exact opposite. Pain in the ass, no knowledge about hotels (which confuses me), and generally just very time-consuming. I worked New Year's Eve, and for some reason there were a lot of people staying with the employee/friends and family rate. One guy in particular kept me on the phone for 10 minutes asking stupid questions. He called to confirm his reservation, two queen beds, and after I confirmed for him he said he had some questions.

Question 1: The parking, is there parking?
Me: Yes, there's parking. (He starts to speak and I cut in to add) Free parking.
Him: Okay, but does it matter how many cars I have?
Me: No, it doesn't.
Question #2: Okay, so I'm leaving early tomorrow morning, but the rest of my family is going to stay in the room later. Will I be charged a fee if I don't come check out myself?
Me: No, sir. You'll give us a credit card when you check in, and they'll put the bill under your door tonight. You can just leave the keys in the room.
Him: So I won't be charged a fee?
Me: (Isn't that what I just said?) No, you won't.
Him: And I wanted to pay with cash, not a credit card.
Me: Okay, well that's fine. You can pay with cash when you check in.
Question #3: But how much of a deposit do I have to leave?
Me: Fifty dollars.
Him: Really? I called before and they told me $250.
Me: Umm, no, it's fifty dollars.
Him: Really? Then why would they tell me that before? You guys all say different things!
Me: Well, if you like you can give us a credit card as a deposit and it'll place a small hold on that, which will be returned to you after you check out.
Him: Maybe I'll do that. So it will take a deposit and then I can come get that when I check out?
Me: No, it's a hold on your credit card. It'll come off in three to five business days.

And so on. He arrived, I checked him in, and he requests to not have neighbors and to be near a door. The second one I could do, the first, denied. Then his wife calls down with a request for a rollaway. We don't have them, so, denied. Then he calls down and the other front desk person picks up, this time to tell him that no, we don't have any rollaways, Nor do we have a room with two queens and a pullout sofa.

Then there was the travel agent who called five times, and the various people who tried to throw parties in the hotel. I guess I'll find out today if their attempts were successful.