As a former hotel clerk, I can tell you that the best way to get the best room available and the best service (and sometimes the best price) is to approach the hotel clerk with a positive attitude and not irritate your clerk from the get-go. Why? Because hotel clerks work in a high-stress environment and you’re bad attitude won’t lead you to the best suite in the house. When you approach a hotel clerk with your best foot forward, it is a welcome sigh of relief for your hotel clerk and they will most likely go out of their way to assist you the best they can with a few clicks of the mouse. Here is what you SHOULD NOT do when you approach your hotel clerk to get A+ service.
When we ask you how you’re doing today, don’t look at us incredulously, roll your eyes and say “Tired.” Obviously you’ve been traveling all day, but guess what? You’re like the 8th person who’s said that today and hey, we’re tired too. That last guy we just checked in ripped our heads off, and now you’re well on your way to doing it, too. Don’t put us immediately on edge of your attitude when you first approach the desk.
Please don’t ask us if the rooms are nice. We’re going to say yes, and likely mark your account that you inquired. Why? Because high maintenance guests are typically searching for a free room by complaining about everything, and we warn our coworkers who will be checking you out by putting in a note that you were whining about the room before even checking in. Asking how nice the rooms are is one thing. Asking “Are they even nice? Are they safe? Are they even clean?” in a snotty voice gives us the red flag that you will not complain the entire time you’re staying, then voice all the things wrong with the hotel at checkout. Guess what? This tactic won’t work to give you a free room, because hotels (and their managers) look at it this way- if it was so bad you could hardly sleep, how come you still stayed? If you don’t tell the desk right away you have a problem, we’ll apologize to you at checkout and tell you we wished you would have said something. If you repeatedly complain at the same hotel, eventually the hotel manager will send you a letter letting you know that unfortunately we can’t meet your needs and will no longer be accepting your reservations.
On the other hand, if you genuinely would like to see the room prior to renting to see if it meets your standards, simply ask to see it before checking in. A reputable hotel will as for your credit card to hold at the desk for collateral while you look, but by all means, check out the room before renting it. Some people have had bad hotel experiences in the past, and we understand that. So take a look and see what we have, but be prepared to leave collateral. And don’t argue that “no other hotel” has ever made you leave a credit card while you look at the room. It’s a lie and we know it, and if you argue the policy with us we will ask you to leave. Period.
Don’t ask us out, invite us for a drink with you or your buddies, or even worse, invite us to your room when our shift is over. For that matter, don’t linger in our lobby and try to flirt with us. It’s just plain creepy, and we’ll call security to keep an eye on you. Plus, it makes us feel cheap. Leave our housekeeping staff alone, too. We’ll kick you out if you keep bugging us, and no, you won’t get a refund.
Don’t go on and on about how great or bad the last hotel you stayed in was. We will not match their great price, even if it’s the same hotel chain as us. Every single hotel is independently owned and operated, and each hotel is different. We don’t care about the crack shack you stayed in last night, or the 5 star suite you got 2 weeks ago. You’re in our hotel now, take it or leave it.
Don’t ask us to babysit your kids or pets in the lobby while you go to the bar or go out to dinner. We can’t, and we won’t. Also, don’t ask us to bring you ice or beverages, towels, etc personally. We can’t leave the desk.
Please don’t insult us or spit at us, or threaten us physically when we tell you room prices or availability. We’re not telling you these things to piss you off, it is just what it is. Threatening us (believe me, it happens) is frightening and puts us on the defensive, so it isn’t good for anybody. Plus, guests behind you (bless their hearts) will interfere and tell you we’re just doing our jobs. And yes, we WILL ask you to leave, and if you threaten us, we may even call the police.
If you’re homeless, please don’t come in and ask for a free room. We’d love to help, but we have to get management permission, and they will say no. We’ll let you use the phone to call the local Police Department to help you (or we may have to call them to remove you from the property) and we might give you a cup of coffee, but that’s it.
Please don’t come in without a form of payment and ask us to take a credit or debit card over the phone. Hotels cannot and will not do it due to security precautions for both the hotel and the card holder. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me, and unless we have a filled out authorization form signed by the card holder sent to the hotel directly via fax, it’s a complete no-go. Come in with proper funds or you will be asked to leave.
Don’t ask to use our phone for long-distance calls. Our phones need to be available for reservations and for in-house guests to reach us. We may or may not allow you to make a local call only, but nothing else.
Don’t ask us how comfy the beds are. To be honest with you, we live in town, so have very likely never stayed at the hotel we work at. We probably don’t even know what the room looks like. We will tell you the beds are comfortable because it’s a generic positive response.
Please don’t be vague when we ask you questions. If we say “How can I help you?” Don’t look appalled, and go “I need a room, duh.” You may be a guest who’s already checked in, or you may just need directions. We don’t ask these questions to make you irritated. We ask because we want to know what you need.
Don’t tell us you are best friends with the owner, general manager, front desk manager, or that you own the hotel directly when you check in. Hotel clerks know in advance when VIP guests are coming, and yes, people DO try to schmooze their way into free rooms by trying to intimidate us into believing they are connected to high-end hotel personnel. And if you try this tactic on us, we will call the manager to verify, which will lead you nowhere. It’s not cute, and it won’t work.
Refrain from telling us LAST time you stayed at our hotel, you didn’t have to pay a pet fee, or you didn’t have to put down a phone deposit, etc. Odds are, you are confusing our hotel with someone else’s, and the hotel could have updated fees and policies from the last time you stayed. Also, don’t argue that last time you stayed you got the room cheaper. Guess what? Everything goes up in price every year except how much we get paid, so please don’t run this spiel on us yet again.
If you need a refrigerator or a microwave, don’t assume we have one. Ask before you check in and pay for the room the amenities we have, and don’t rant and rave if we don’t have what you need. If you wait just one second, we will recommend and even call other hotels locally to get you what you want. If you blow up at us we’ll just hand you back your card and go “Sorry.”
We have the right to respond to your negativity by asking you to leave and/or defending ourselves. So when you call me a “stupid bitch” because you’ve had a bad day and I’ve just politely informed you that no, you can’t pay cash, I WILL tell you to leave and it probably won’t be pretty.
Keep in mind that for every complaint you have, it will be notated on your account. Which means when you say the pillows are hard and we give you more pillows and check with you to see if you’re OK and you say yes, things are great, we will notate that, too. Which means you don’t get to discount whine at checkout because your issue is already resolved in our eyes.
Don’t complain about the construction on our exit, the weather, the difficulty you had finding the hotel etc when we ask how you’re doing. It will have been the umpteenth time we’ve heard it. We ask how you’re doing because we have to. It’s a generic question, please respond with a “Fine, thank you” or whatever. We don’t care how you’re doing at all, it’s just part of the job. Even if you’re pissed as all get-out at absolutely everything by the time you check in to the hotel, keep that attitude at bay. We don’t want to be your punching bag, and if you have a snotty attitude, we will probably retaliate by moving you to the 2nd floor or putting you right by the ice machine because we can. And we’ll do it with a smile.
The key to getting good hotel service is to not approach us with negativity. Believe me, we are already worn out from being yelled at all day and being berated by conditions out of our control. Traveling is tough, but it’s no excuse to be a complete ass to a complete stranger who is trying to help you. Our goal is to actually make you leave with a smile on your face, not because we want you to be happy, but because we don’t want you to chew us out. We don’t like to encourage anger, but if you can’t keep your attitude in check, we will make sure you pay the consequences.
If you want to be a memorable guest who gets superb service, try having a smile when you get to the desk. I’ve given discounts and free drink vouchers etc, to guests who made me actually enjoy my job just for a second. For some reason, people believe being aggressive will get them better rates and rooms, when the true reality is, the more sweet you are, the more you get better service. IN fact, people who DON’T ask for discounts or inquire about amenities are the ones who usually get the extra perks.
Next time you travel to a hotel, approach your clerk with a sunny attitude, and you could be greatly rewarded.