Friday, June 17, 2016

10 Things I learned working for over 20 hotels

1) When you leave something behind we know you did, we know where it is, but we won't call you about it.

I think it was my first week when I said, "Wow, this is such an easy problem to solve and help take care of guests," but I was quickly shot down. Unfortunately this is the world we live in and here's why.

The hotel has to protect itself from getting in the middle of domestic disputes. Often times when someone goes to a hotel it is not with the best of intentions and when the hotel staff calls home to say you left an item the spouse or that special someone who wasn't invited along for the trip might answer.

To avoid any possible backlash, the hotel has to throw it in a pile and see if you call back. Most employees secretly hoping you won't so they can eventually have it.

2) Don't drink out of glassware that lives in the room, just don't.

Most hotels are starting to wise-up about this issue and now provide disposable plastic sealed cups. The glassware however is disgusting because people have been known to do weird stuff with them. As infrequent as I hope that is, that's not the only problem.

Maids are under a lot of pressure to clean a certain quota of rooms in a limited amount of time, which means shortcuts. Taking all the glassware from their rooms, loading them up on a tray and making a trip down to the dishwasher doesn't happen nearly as often as doing a quick rinse in the sink.

This quick rinse tends to either have no soap or some industrial strength cleaner that is really meant for removing much more disgusting things from the rooms. Oh and the dish rag they might use, might also be the rag they cleaned other parts of your room with. Either way, odds are you don't want to drink out of that glassware.

3) Yes, people have died in the hotel and while we know all about it we are very unlikely to tell you about any of it.

I don't know why but that always seems to be one of the first things new hires are interested in knowing about. So yeah, we know all the gory details.

Rarely will a seasoned employee speak of such things but there is one way you can find out which room had the worst stuff happen in it. Just try to be a complete jerk to the staff, go ahead and yell at them for stuff they didn't do and try your hardest to get something for nothing.

I think you can see where this is going, and no, I have never would never do it to anyone but let's just say you make the wrong team member unhappy and your odds of sleeping in that room might go up.

4) You are probably not going to die in an epic elevator plummeting free fall, probably.

People always stress about the possibility of getting stuck in an elevator. I am very surprised actually in the many years of riding elevators all day I have yet to get stuck in one. Though I have had to open them up and pull people out.

Here's why they really get stuck probably 9 times out of 10. The doors have sensors so they won't (hmm, let's just say shouldn't) pinch you in as you are halfway in or out of them. Which is a good thing. The problem is they have to be set pretty sensitively as to not murder you.

That being the case, the door track is often dirty enough that it sets the sensors off. Meaning there was just enough dust or maybe even a gum wrapper in the small groove where the door slides across. So instead of the doors opening the elevator decides to panic not do anything for fear of getting itself jammed up more by moving at all.

So if you see that they aren't keeping up with cleanliness or if the death trap of an elevator makes a lot of noise, why risk it, just opt for the stairs.

Typically the ones that do get stuck are always the same ones and we have to pull people out often enough that we have the tools and know the routine. Use the call button in the elevator or call the hotel from your cell phone we'll likely have you out of there in no time flat.

5) Don't try to pull a fast one on the night shift.

I don't recommend trying to show up in the middle the night and weasel some kind of deal out of the night auditor, acting like we lost your reservation or making up stories about basically anything under the sun. Not to mention short change artists trying to get a little extra cash back with their change.

It's not out first night, never is. Think about it, the night auditor is typically someone they trust the entire property to while the rest of management is sleeping, with the exception being your mega hotels. This guy/girl has heard it all before, seen your same tricks played over and over. So he/she is probably going to have you pegged before you even get into your spiel.

Actually it's even harder than you think because night auditors from all hotels in the area become a close knit group. When you need extra rooms or someone to talk to that's also awake at night, you start doing a call around to the other properties. So when your midnight scammers decide to make the rounds we can call around faster than they can drive around.

Our communication is typically pretty on point between shifts also, so trying to come back later will likely only make you look worse. We make notes about everything suspicious and all of that gets carried on to the following shifts.

6) A duvet is a huge don't.

The larger the bedding items like a duvet or a comforter the less often it gets washed. Wait, what!? Shouldn't they wash everything every time! I mean, I like to picture a team dressed in hazmat suits going in and hosing the entire room down, but unfortunately that's not the case.

Most hotels are getting better actually, they are designing layers of bedding that can be washed much easier than ever before. However; in your older hotels and basically anytime you see a huge heavy layer on the bed just think about for a minute that several other people have already used that.

When something like that is too hard to wash it gets spot checked, a quick glance over it and then put right back on. I like to just drag that right off into the corner of the room and double up on blankets, but that's just me.

7) The cleaning crew probably didn't take your stuff so please stop immediately accusing them.

It happens from time to time I'm sure but I've never seen it happen. The maid is normally someone who really needs his/her job and doesn't want to risk loosing it over your cheap odds and ends that you have misplaced in your drunkenness.

The key cards track employee access to your valuables and they know this, so it is really a rare thing to have happen. Honestly if you think about it an employee who steals is likely to do it often not just once, so it's pretty easy to narrow down and eliminate anyone with this type of behavior.

So stop blaming them before you know the facts and start protecting yourself. I have been paid to test security procedures at hotels and even to break into hotel rooms. What I learned was that you and the front desk agents are the largest threats to your valuables and here's what you can do about it.

Stop letting people get both your name and room number. Be guarded with this key information whether it's by overhearing you talking with the front desk or friends, posting it online, leaving it lying around or signing your bar tab to your room. As soon as a con artist catches wind of this information it's pretty easy for them to get into your room.

Also every time you leave the room make sure the door fully closes behind you. If it looks closed but you can still push it open with the palm of your hand there's a problem. They call it pushing or pushers and it's basically people doing just that. They walk around trying to find a vulnerable door to enter through.

When staff members come to your door while your door is open you should request them to swipe their cards. They should not be taken back by this request and it will help protect you. It shows a history that they were in the room and helps fend off anyone that is pretending to be hotel staff. Go ahead and keep an eye on that light because if it doesn't turn green then they could have picked up any random card that was laying around.

Don't be a victim and make sure to utilize your in room safe or a lock box at the front desk when available.

8) The remote is probably the dirtiest thing in the room.

Not always, some maids are fanatic about sanitizing the remote, but honestly in most cases it never gets cleaned. As mentioned before the maids are in a huge rush and trying to take shortcuts anywhere they can.

Whatever those guests before you were doing or eating or had on their hands, it probably ended up on the remote and is still waiting there for you at your check-in.

9) We named the 13th floor the 14th and did the same with room 13 on each floor.

There are a lot of people that won't stay on the 13th floor or in a room that ends with the number 13. So every hotel has a vacant 13th floor and empty rooms between 12 and 14 on each floor right? Nope.

It's all perception and you have likely noticed this on your own already but if you really have a problem with the number 13 then I advice you stay out of any room ending with 14 or the whole 14th floor for that matter because honestly it is the 13th.

What is really fun though as hotel staff is when we get a new hire and a little free time. The gag is that we call this new employee up to the front desk in a hurry saying they need to take something to room 213, or the like, right away. It's very important and the guest is very angry so don't mess up.

Lol, after some time they normally slink back to the front desk saying, "I give up, I can't find the room." Sometimes they call back over the walkie and we pretend we can't make out what they are saying, all while intensifying the need to hurry. Then there are those times you question the hiring process when they say "Oh yeah, I took it already, they were happy." ....Oh my.

I think the best case of this was at one property where the 12th and 14th were both on the ends of long hallways and between them, around a corner, was one lone unmarked storage room door. A door which many employees spent some time at, staring and wondering before finally giving up.

10) We can deactivate your key at anytime and we are normally not going to tell you that we did it.

Yes, putting the key card next to a magnet or large battery may clear it, but most often what happens is either we made a mistake when making your key, when making someone else's key or we needed you to come talk to us about something. If you were actively avoiding us we may have decided to force your hand.

Some hotels make keys based off of reservations and some are made as you check-in. If your checkout date changes from what those keys were expecting you will be locked out. If someone asks for another key to your room it is possible to append the new key to the existing ones or to wipe all previous ones. If you decide to extend your stay, you will need new keys.

Unfortunately because of the way doors and keys can't interact with the front desk systems there are several situations where your keys will need to be remade anyway, but we do have the option of locking you out. This is typically only done in extreme cases such as when you have no method of paying for the room, but it is possible.

Disclaimer-ish statement of sorts

That's enough for now but I would like to note that I did not first-hand experience all of these situations at the hotels where I worked, actually I have worked for some of the really great ones. I did have a job once where I got to go from hotel to hotel and check through all their systems and procedures to see how things were run, and you can only imagine what that was like.

Also if you are wondering why a blog which is normally about ideas is today about hotel information it's in part because I plan to come back later with blog posts about ways to solve or improve some of these issues and I should be linking to them from here.