Monthly Archives: April 2012

This is what my week is looking like

Ever since I started with my current hotel chain, I’d been told that they were changing our system over to another one. I started almost 4 years ago. And admittedly it is needed, the system we have in place has so many quirks and throws a number of errors for no reason resulting in many pulling their hair out.

The new system is finally here, and it’s being installed on Monday night. We are all having freak outs. Because yes, it’s been rolled out across most of the other hotels already. But we still feel ridiculously under prepared.

All hotel staff have had training. 2 days. This is not nearly enough time to teach us a brand new system. There’s a ton of stuff they haven’t taught me, because logic appears to be that they will only teach the hotel and front office managers, who can teach the duty managers.

I have a list of stuff I don’t know, and need to know. It’s going to be chaos.

Oh, head office are going to be on the desk 24/7 through the roll out to assist… These are staff who don’t know everything about our property so I’m doubtful about how much they can help.

The next four days for me look like this:

Day 1: Go through every guest who is due to depart on the end of the month. Anyone who has a balance, send letters up to the rooms asking them to come and settle their account by tomorrow night. Finish doing end of month preparation. Begin charging the guests who are long stays.

Day 2: Make sure everyone checking out the next day has a zero balance. I’ve been told that we have no choice, they have to pay. How the hell I am going to manage this feat, I have no clue. Go through arrival paperwork for the next day and make sure we have all the paperwork, everything saved, in preparation for the system going down after month end. Finish checking month end reports.

Day 3: I am not here for this part. My two direct managers have to process end of month. Roll the system as we do each month. But the kicker? Once the old system has finished this month, we lose our system. Until the next day. I am no psychic, despite what my customers think at times, but I’m already predicting this will end in absolute disaster. We are without the system for a good 12 hours. And while we have done it before its generally been 2-3 hours at most. I’m paranoid that someone will be checked into an occupied, or dirty room, or want to move rooms and all I will have is a bunch of paper reports telling me what’s going on.
To top it off, I’m working with Newbie who has never worked when our system is down, and my Crazy coworker who is soon to be related to me – who has a stress out the second something goes wrong.

Day 4: The new system will in theory be in place. Someone has to go through and update all of the paperwork from the day before in the system. They all need to be checked into the system from the day before. The entire staff will struggle with a brand new system.

While I do agree the new system has its strong points, it seems to have unnecessarily complicated some of the basic actions. What we could do in one step appears to require 3-5 steps just to do the same thing.

It’s going to be fun.

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Smokers – we know almost all your tricks

I don’t smoke myself, but I understand the needs of those of my guests who do. Sadly, not all of our guests respect our non-smoking room policy, and either don’t choose to ask about options for smokers, or ask and then disregard what we tell them.

Let me preface this by saying that we have two options for smokers; on the top floor of the hotel there is two open balconies where guests can smoke*. We also have a large number of rooms with balconies, and while you can’t smoke in the rooms, guests are welcome to smoke on the balconies provided they try to prevent smoke from entering the room themselves.

*Related – guests, for the love of god, put your cigarette out before putting the butt in the bin, I’m sick of going up to the floor, smelling smoke, and having to race to isolate the fire alarms on the floor and try and find a room where I can get water to put out the small fire that was close to starting.

In my time in the industry, I’ve come across people who smoke in their rooms anyway. Some hide it. Most don’t. Sadly, despite having a non-smoking policy set out in the registration document they sign, it’s near impossible to prove that it is the current guest unless we catch them in the act, and then charge them.

To the ones who think they’re hiding it, but aren’t, here is a list of reasons we know you’re smoking in the room.

  • For starters, cigarette smoke. If my colleague, a heavy smoker, can go up to the room and say there’s a strong smell? You’ve been caught.
  • Covering the smoke detector with a plastic bag. Our housekeeping staff get confused by this, and alert us.
  • Further to that, a little tip – you’re not that smart by removing the entire smoke detector. It’s linked to a fire panel. That panel makes a loud-ass noise when there’s a fault, or an alarm. Removing the smoke detector causes a fault. And don’t try and tell me that it was like that when you entered the room – my system says you checked in at 14.08 and the fault happened at 17.32. Busted.
  • Running the exhaust fan. Trust me. We know.
  • If you leave your cigarette butts in the bin, in the sink, in the glasses, in the toilet, or all of the above? It’s a pretty big clue that you’re smoking in the room.  Especially when we find ash everywhere.
  • When the guest next door complains they walked past and smelt smoke? Sends up a warning signal.

It’s somewhat hilarious watching guests try and deny it, particularly those when the proof is right in front of us. I don’t care if you can do it in your home country, buddy, in my hotel it’s against the rules.

Luckily, thanks to the power of an Ozone machine, we can neutralise the odours, so we rarely do need to charge guests for this. We will, however blacklist at times.

Also because if there is a dispute regarding the charge, it’s a bit hard to send a smoke smell to a bank as proof of the charge.

You had an awesome deal the last 5 years. Pay full price, already.

A couple of days ago my colleague picks up a call. Places it on hold and tells me it’s for me. Sure, whatever.

I answer the phone. “Yes, this is Susan Meyers, and I expect you’ve been briefed of the whole story, so I need a room for [whatever dates]”

Back up. Briefed of what now?

Susan explains, apparently she is trying to book, and wants a certain rate, and reservations wouldn’t give it to her, so instead of escalating it within their department they transfer it to me. Awesome, thanks guys!

Apparently Susan has been a loyal customer and stayed in a Family Suite for the last 5 years over a particular sporting event – one of our peak periods where the rooms are at ridiculous rates. My system tells me that she’s stayed twice, not five times, but that is presently irrelevant.

The rate she is after is not only cheaper than our website by over $100 per night – but it’s cheaper than the lowest room we have available. Sorry lady. Not happening.

I explain this to her. In a variety of ways. She still complains. Look, I’m sorry you got such a great rate, you honestly shouldn’t have, we can’t charge you now for your previous bookings but we sure as hell can charge you the correct rate going forward.

Susan is still not convinced. And then starts going on about how the rooms really aren’t up to standard any way. Well, for starters, we are going through a full refurbishment. Secondly, nobody is forcing you to stay.

Susan now mentions that back when her husband had a company, they used to put people up at the hotel. If they stayed often enough they would have a contract specifying the peak dates. And if they didn’t, then they weren’t huge clients we had to suck up to. Either way, sorry, no cheap rate. She decides she will speak to her husband to see what he will do. I feel obliged to inform her that no matter who calls, we are not extending the rate to them.

I get asked if there is anyone higher. I check with my direct manager, who says hell no. I pass this on, slightly edited, to Susan. She wants to know who will give her the rate. I tell her nobody. Susan is not happy with this. That’s too bad for Susan.

In the end she didn’t even bother booking, claiming she could find it cheaper online. Perhaps she was looking at ImaginaryRoomsThatDontExist.com?

I notated the crap out of her previous booking. On last inspection, she’d tried this on two other people who also said no.

Lady. Stop calling. We are not changing our minds.

Travelling incognito: You’re doing it wrong

Every now and then, we will get guests who request that we do not tell anyone that they are staying at the hotel. Sometimes we get the reason, sometimes we don’t – either way, it doesn’t matter to us, we have to respect the guest’s wishes.

A couple of weeks back, I come in to the morning shift, to get an… interesting… handover from my night staff.

There had been a domestic disturbance – honestly, these are more common than you’d think – and the cops were called. But in this case, the hotel didn’t call them – this particular couple were fighting amongst themselves, and the female called the cops. Screaming took place, and the police took the male guest away. We still don’t know the full details, except that they were travelling together and staying in the same room.

Now, the room was booked under the male guest’s name, for the sake of this story, Mr Smith. The female didn’t wish to continue to stay with him, and wanted to stay somewhere else.

So she ended up booking another room. In the same damn hotel.

She asked us not to tell Mr Smith where she was staying. Okay, fine, we’ll do that. But, if she happens to run into him in the lift? There is not a damn thing that we can do about it. Thankfully, this never happened, or if it did, neither of them made a scene.

Later that afternoon Mr Smith came to the reception to ask about the female, and whether she was okay. We advised him that we couldn’t pass any details of her, and were unsure as to her whereabouts. To his credit, he didn’t press the issue, and genuinely seemed to want to make sure that she was okay. During this conversation, he also told us that supposedly this girl was his girlfriend, and the incident occurred because she was drunk. To be honest, at this point we didn’t really care which story was correct, as long as it didn’t result in further scenes.

The guests were both due to check out of their individual rooms on the same day. Again, I came in on the morning shift to get a handover from the night guys – the female had been trying to confirm her flight back home (domestic, then connecting to an international flight), and she was getting conflicting information – the airline said it was cancelled, but then her mother, back home, called and was told it was still scheduled. She wanted us to call the airline to confirm her flight.

Now, apart from the fact that the airline will not discuss the details of a passenger if we are not them – we logged onto the airline website to find out it was cancelled. Also checked with the airport website it was flying out of – flight cancelled. Logged into her online booking – flight cancelled. At this point, we are 100% certain that her connecting international flight? Was cancelled.

We called the guest to let her know, she came down to reception, and refused to believe us. Lady, it does not affect me whether you listen to me or not, sadly my powers do not extend so far as to forcing the airlines to fly an 18 hour international flight just for one person.

And then the kicker. When we finally convince her that yes, the flight is cancelled? She asks if she can call up to speak to Mr Smith. Yes, the same person that we are not meant to advise of her whereabouts.

My colleague accidentally gave her a weird look, whereupon she answered, ‘Oh, I’m allowed to call him, he just can’t call me.’

Right…

She left the hotel separately, he came down to check out later. I honestly have no idea if those two worked things out, or what happened to their flight.

But, seriously. If you’re trying to avoid someone, it’s generally not the brightest idea to stay in the same hotel as them after you’ve called the police on them. Just saying.