Monthly Archives: February 2012
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. My bad. I have been amassing stories – we have had some real winners the last couple of weeks, so expect to see those posts in the next few days.
In the mean time, I have been continuing my love-hate relationship with our reservations department. I’ll be honest, it’s mostly hate, with a side of love for one or two of the staff members.
See, our reservations department used to be in the same state. And I worked in the reservations department. We were awesome at our job and kept hitting targets – until they decided to relocate the central reservations to another state and expand the department. Our positions were effectively made redundant (although they “offered” us the chance to move there if we wanted to continue in the department – ha!), and we got moved from our cushy Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm jobs back to shift work, crazy hours, and weekends. Not long after I got back to the front desk I was promoted to my current position.
But, having worked in reservations, and knowing exactly what needs to be done and how to do it correctly, I take it more personally than most when the reservations department mess up. And boy, do they mess up. At times, they’ve pulled entire bedding configurations out of thin air, and promised things that don’t exist to our guests – and guess who gets to clean it up? They are safely tucked away in another state and don’t have the guests in their face, annoyed that their booking was messed up.
The last couple of days I have been having delightfully snarky emails back and forth with the department. All of these are sanctioned – and in some cases, encouraged – by my hotel manager, who I think finds it quite amusing how personally offended I get when they mess up.
One of the email trails from today:
Reservations: *Forwarded email with a basic enquiry* Please help with this enquiry, thanks.
Me: Sure, what do you need help with? 🙂
Reservations: With the parking enquiry.
Me: Sorry – I’m a bit confused – I thought you guys responded to enquiries?
Reservations: Yes, but I’m in a different state so I’m not great with directions.
Oh, come on people! The car park is right next door to the hotel – it is not rocket science. Plus, they all have templates (as do the front desk) where we can copy and past the information right into the email, because seriously, we get hundreds of emails a day and nobody wants to type out a response every time.
I played nice and responded to the enquiry for reservations (plus, the agent is someone I get along with alright – we just get annoyed doing their job), but I did get some amusement of relaying the conversation back and forth to my hotel manager.
And so help me, if I get in trouble for my snarky emails, I’m taking him down with me.
You know how everyone gets cold calls from telemarketers? Yep, hotels get them too. Most common tend to be about our phones, but I’ve also taken calls for people trying to provide service for printers, gym equipment, computers, and one person who was under the impression that we didn’t actually have a website but they’d be happy to design one for us, for a fee of course.
Now, if these cold callers had done their research, they would realise that a) they are calling a hotel, and b) that we are one of a number of hotels, and that our head office is located in another state – even if we were interested, they’d have to talk to head office anyway.
I took a call last night, right as my hotel manager – also known as Bossman – walked down to the desk to leave for the day. He only managed to hear my side of the conversation.
“Welcome to Hotel Anonymous, how can I help you?”
‘Good evening. I’m currently calling from [garbled company name] regarding your phone service. Are you the owner?’
“Sorry, we’re not interested. Goodbye.” And with that, I hung the phone up.
The look on Bossman’s face when he thought I’d rudely hung up on a guest was priceless. Total shock. Once I told him what it was, he didn’t care.
To the telemarketers – please do your research more thoroughly. The owner of a multi-hotel chain would not be answering phones at the front desk of the hotel in another state. And on the minuscule chance he was, he wouldn’t tell you that!
I received a call a few days ago, from a lady demanding to speak to a manager regarding a “screw up” for her company’s booking.
Sure, yep, that’d be me, what exactly is the problem?
Now, we have two primary types of rooms – a Standard Room and a Premier Room. There isn’t much difference between the two, except for the outlook, and the Premier room is slightly more expensive. Otherwise, they have exactly the same type of facilities.
This lady – and I am still yet to work out exactly who she is – starts going on about how they have paid $239 for their MD to stay in a room, and he got a Standard Room. Why did he get a Standard Room? Who screwed up the booking? Whose fault was this?
And on it went for a couple of minutes before I could get a word in and find out who the damn guest was.
I pull up the booking. “Yes, I can see that Mr Smith stayed with us for one night, in a Standard Room.”
“Why? Why was he given this room? Were all the guests that travelled with him in this room type?”
“He was given this room because that’s what was booked for him. If you could let me know who else stayed I’ll be happy to look further at this.”
The lady provides me with a couple of other names, still ranting on about how this was “completely unacceptable” and she “wanted answers”.
Finally, after pulling up the other two bookings, I advise her that yes, the two other rooms booked under Mr Smith were Standard Rooms. Because they were booked into damn Standard Rooms, lady.
“But I can see that Mr Jones stayed as well. Mr Jones got a Premier Room. How the hell did Mr Jones get a Premier Room, and Mr Smith got a Standard Room? Mr Smith is the MD of the company! Mr Jones is about four levels below him. Who the hell allowed this to happen?”
I pull up the booking for Mr Jones. Ah yes, this is why Mr Jones got a Premier Room. Because the company, or the travel agent, or whoever, booked him into a Premier Room.
The lady continues to rant at me about how Mr Smith has stayed with us every time he is in Melbourne, and shouldn’t we see this, and why didn’t we give him a Premier Room, and how could we give someone a better room than the company MD?
Eventually I have to cut her off, because this is approaching five minutes, and the hotel didn’t even mess anything up. “I’m sorry, but did Mr Smith advise us at any point that he felt he had been given the wrong room?”
“No, he shouldn’t have have to! You screwed up!”
“Again, I’m sorry, but with all due respect – the hotel did not mess up a booking. Mr Smith booked a Standard Room. That room was allocated to him. Mr Jones booked a Premier Room. Again, this is what was allocated to him. There were no indicative notes on the booking, neither of the guests advised anything upon arrival, and we don’t exactly ask guests upon arrival of their hierarchy in their company.”
“So, we paid the same amount for the rooms?”
“Actually, I can see that the Premier Room was $239 whilst the Standard room was $199. I imagine tax invoices were provided upon check out, however should you require these I am happy to forward them along.”
“Yes, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, please. So, you’re telling me that someone booked the MD of the company into your basic room?”
“Yes, I’m not sure whether the details were incorrectly advised to the travel agent or whether the travel agent booked the best available room, but please understand that we allocate room types based on what has been booked.”
Lady finally hangs up and goes away. To this date I am still unsure whether she was from the travel agent, worked in the travel division of the company, or she worked for Mr Smith, but sadly she was unable to pin the blame on the hotel for the “screw up”.
And, for the record, on arrival we do not tend to ask guests their position at the company, nor whether we should be giving the ‘better’ job to them or their travelling partner. Contrary to popular belief we are also not mind readers.
Company politics for the company I do not work for? I do not participate in them.
Look, I don’t know if there’s been a particularly stupid crop of people around lately, but this has happened twice in the last month.
A guest stays with us at the hotel. Signs the registration card. We take a photocopy of the photo ID.
During their week-long stay, they dine in at the restaurant a few times. Sign those room charge vouchers, with their name, room number, and signature.
Come check out time, they come to the desk, are presented with the bill, sign the merchant copy of their slip, and go on their merry way.
So why, for crying out loud, do we then receive a merchant dispute from their bank, claiming that it was either a “fraudulent transaction” or that the cardholder never stayed?
And to whichever bank sided with the cardholder and let them win the dispute, despite bucketloads of proof that they did stay and it was their signature – a hearty fuck you, for giving them their money back, resulting in us losing ours.
Luckily that was the exception to the rule, and most of the time once the bank has this proof, they go back to the cardholder all “LOL nice try, go away”.
And then we blacklist the guest for trying to rip us off.
Sometimes it takes incredible restraint for me to stop myself from turning around and asking guests if they’re messing with me. The things that people come up with, it’s amazing.
To date, one of the best “complaints” I’ve had is from a guest who actually stunned both myself and one of my colleagues into silence.
Guest checks into the room. Comes back down a couple of minutes later, throwing the keys onto the desk and demanding a manager to complain about her room.
I step in and ask what’s wrong.
“There’s no bathroom. I want a refund.”
“I just got checked into 306. There’s no bathroom. What kind of hotel is this?”
“Ma’am, there is most certainly a bathroom in your hotel room. It’s on the left hand side of the room, right next to the bed.”
The guest grabbed her keys back and stalked off, but not before she’d made me promise that I would refund her if there was in fact no bathroom in her room.
Oddly enough, she didn’t complain further. Guess she found the bathroom?