Some of you may be staying in a hotel right now. You might be on a holiday vacation, or maybe visiting your family. You might also have an upcoming trip to a warmer place so you can get away from the snow or rain for a few days. Or, maybe it is a regular part of your job to travel for work and spend a large amount of your week in a hotel. Have you ever thought about how your experience at a hotel has to do with how often you open your wallet? I just finished reading the book: “Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality” by Jacob Tomsky. Definitely a clever name for a book.
It is a raw memoir of the life of a hotel employee. A book that sheds light on the inner workings and guts of a hotel. It also discusses how the way you treat a hotel employee may have a direct effect on how you are treated, but in ways you might not expect. Are their actions due to how the corporate hotel chain requires their employees to treat you? No hotel is the same. Or does the service you receive have more to do with how much you are willing to fork over from your wallet? One of my favorite excerpts from his book is this quick story from when he worked at a New York City hotel:
“Speaking of area codes, one of the most wonderful tools at my disposal is putting a guest into a certain room on the twelfth floor. What is so punishing about this room? Nothing by the look of it: a decent room by all accounts. However, if I put you in room 1212, your phone will not stop ringing with wrong numbers. Why? Well, a surprising number of guests never seem to learn that from every hotel phone you have to dial out. In general, to place any call, one must press 9 prior to dialing, local or otherwise. So all day, and believe me, all night, idiots dispersed through 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?’
What time is it? Why are you calling me? Who is this?
I’d like to order the Szechuan chicken please? Excuse me? Is this Happy Family Palace’?” page 197
Wow. That will definitely make me think about how I treat the employees at hotels. There are many more experiences he shares, as well as tips for how to navigate the hotel world, whether for personal or business. In its own way, hotels are a world of their own. Tomsky shares how desk agents, bellhops, doormen, housekeepers, and management work together, how they have a system of their own, and how it works and sometimes does not. The tips he shares are snapshots of what travelers can do to navigate around hotel policies, and alert them to things they should be aware of when dealing with hotel employees.
If you do not read his book, then you will want to be on your best behavior, plan and connect with the hotel ahead of time, and be sure to open your wallet and tip for the best service. If you do not, beware and proceed at your own risk.