Confessions of a Hotel Insider Article is a Treasure Trove of Hotel Advice

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Right before Christmas, The Week published an article odd in tone and subject matter. The story “Confessions of a hotel insider” and subtitled “If you want the best room, sparkling service, and free booze, just follow these rules” was an excerpt of a new book “Heads in Beds” by Jacob Tomsky, a career hotel employee.

The first few tips fall under the general idea of being polite to the person checking you in because they have a ton of control over whether you end up in a good room or a bad room. Great bad room example:

If I put you in room 1212 in New York City, your phone will not stop ringing with wrong numbers. Why? Well, a surprising number of guests never seem to learn that you have to dial 9 to make an outside call. So all day and, believe me, all night, idiots dispersed throughout the building will pick up their phones and try to straight dial a local number, starting with 1-212. Whatever they press after that matters not because they have already dialed room 1212, and 1212’s guest will constantly pick up the 3:00 a.m. call and hear the loud mashing of other numbers or some drunk guest saying, “Hello? Hello? Who is this?”

Being polite is pretty simple and comes down to treating the agent like a human, not talking on your cell phone during your check in, and not trying to be a big shot.

Then comes the juicy part of the story: Things Every Guest Must Know.

You never have to pay for using the minibar.
Minibar charges are, without question, the most disputed charges on any bill. Why? Because it’s done by people. The traditional minibar, before they invented the sensored variety, is checked (maybe) once a day by a slow-moving gentleman or lady pushing a cartful of snacks. Keystroke errors, delays in restocking, double stocking, and hundreds of other missteps make minibar charges the most voided item. Even before guests can manage to get through half of the “I never had these items” sentence, I have already removed the charges.

This tip is getting less useful all the time with the proliferation of electronic sensors, but last week at the Radisson Sydney our minibar was hand checked. This is also, of course, theft.

You don’t have to pay for the in-room movies either!
Here’s how, in three easy steps: 1. Watch and enjoy any movie. 2. Call down and say you accidentally clicked on it. Or it cut off in the middle. Or it froze near the end. Or it never even started. Would you like them to restart the movie for you? No thanks. You need to go to bed/leave now. Just remove the charge, please. 3. Order another movie.

This is probably theft too, but more like illegally downloading a movie then stealing a DVD.

The next tip is a way to beat the system that some might be comfortable with and some might think is over their personal line.

And you can easily avoid a same-day cancellation penalty.
This little move will not work with online prepaid reservations — only what we call “natural” reservations, booked through any channel as long as it’s not prepaid. Call the property directly and ask for the front desk. “Good evening, thank you for calling the front desk, my name is Doesn’t Matter, how can I assist you?”

“Excuse me, are you the manager?”

If the person says yes, hang up and call back. What we want here is certainly not the manager.

“No, I am not. Would you like to speak to the manager?”

“No, actually, I just have a quick request. I think you can help me. Well, I was supposed to fly in late tonight, but my 12-year-old daughter is sick — “

Let me stop you right there, dear guest. Sure, you need a reason, but what you don’t need is a 45-minute story. Try again.

“No, actually, I just have a quick request. I think you can help me. I’ve had a personal emergency and won’t be able to check in tonight. However, I have already rescheduled my meeting for next week. Do you think you could just shift tonight’s reservation to next Friday without a penalty?”

“Sure. Next Friday, the 24th, all set. Same confirmation number. See you then.”

“Thank you.”

Done. Now you have a reservation all set for next Friday! Why is that good? Well, tomorrow, whenever you get around to it, call the hotel back (this time no need to inquire about a manager), and just tell the front desk you want to cancel your reservation for next Friday, as you are well within your rights to do. No problem.

I’m a bit skeptical of this trick. If you ask “Are you the manager?” then continue when the person says “No,” you may set off alarm bells that make the person not very compliant.

And the last trick he lays out is the Twenty Dollar Trick. His wording is slightly different than the one I used successfully in Waikiki:

Finding your agent
What are we looking for in our agent? Someone who is efficient and not at all nervous, almost bored. If the agent is overly zealous or nervous, he or she might have just begun working at the property. Not only does the agent have to be comfortable playing the game; the agent must know the property and the system well enough to play it properly.

Tip up front: Let the agent know you are serious immediately. Here’s how I do it: I walk up, smile without showing teeth, give the agent my CC, drop a 20 on the desk, and say, “This is for you. Whatever you can do for me, I’d appreciate it.” Boom. If I am after something specific, I will include that as well: “This is for you. Whatever you can do for me, I’d appreciate a room upgrade, late checkout, wine, whatever.”

Finally, if you happen to have a successful experience, then make a point to memorize the agent’s name.

The article is interesting throughout if you can get over the over-the-top personality injection.

I won’t be using the tricks to get free movies and booze because I consider them theft. I will continue to use the Twenty Dollar Trick.

Hat Tip aotennis.blogspot.com

PS- Gary Leff mentioned the author and book in yesterday’s post about his experiences with the $20 trip. He pointed to a review of the book, which this article excerpts, by Very Good Points.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Ohhhh boy! Everything but the $20 trick is over the line for me. Be polite, if you are part of a rewards program use that and please don’t steal. Ok?

  2. Ha. Some of his “front desk lies” are frequently seen in responses to negative reviews on places like TripAdvisor.

  3. Will be looking forward to getting back to reading great blogging on how to get to fascinating places with award miles.

  4. You should be ashamed of yourself! You are promoting theft. Obviously, you do not know the difference between stealing and scheming. The award miles/points game is scheme not a scam. You are a scammer! If this is the only thing you can blog about, shut down your blog.

    • I said not to follow the theft advice. I passed it along for general interest, and so people understand hotel processes more. It’s an article from The Week, so I hardly think excerpting it qualifies as promoting theft.

  5. hey Whynotgo dude, cool your self. its the free information age. don’t think for one min that only what you deemed worthy info are supposed to spread . don’t expect anyone to filter info for you or to protect you from anything.
    you read, you analyze, you judge. DONT judge it for me.

  6. I wonder about people like Whynotgo and their shrill, holier-than-thou rants. Often the people who rant most loudly against adultery are adulterers. Often the people who rant most loudly about the importance of honesty are dishonest. I wonder what Whynotgo is trying to conceal?

  7. “This tip is getting less useful all the time with the proliferation of electronic sensors,”

    Well I’ve had at least 3 occasions where I was told there are charges from the minibar and not once did I use, touch anything from the minibar so I don’t believe the sensors are any better.

    You also left out the possibility of theft by the staff. I’m sure once in a while someone will grab an item or two and figure the occupant will get charged for it.

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