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One night does not make you a regular guest.

I took a call recently at the desk. A gentleman is on the other end of the line. He doesn’t introduce himself, just demands to speak to the hotel manager.

Now, we get a ton of people calling and asking for the hotel manager. Understandably, we do try and screen the calls – not all of them actually require his attention. I ask this person what it’s regarding.

“I’m a business guest. A repeat customer.”

…Okay, then. I’m not actually sure where Bossman is, but I transfer it to his office anyway.

About 5 minutes later, Bossman actually walks into reception to speak to me. We get a bit busy and he starts taking phone calls. The same person calls back. Again demands the hotel manager. Bossman doesn’t like it too much when people demand for him, especially when they don’t even say who they are or what they want. So Bossman takes down his details to “pass on”, and actually manages to get the name of the guest. Let’s call him Bob Smith.

Now, Bossman got stuck with a whole bunch of meetings that day, so didn’t get a chance to call Bob back. And given that Bob won’t say what this is about, it’s hard to tell where this falls on the legitimate urgency scale.

Bob calls the next day and speaks to one of the other duty managers. I’m standing next to him, and hear the other end of the conversation. Which is a long one, because apparently Bob has gone off on a rant. My colleague keeps trying to talk, and gets cut off. In the end, we give him Bossman’s email address to “air his complaints”.

I ask my colleague what was up with Bob. Apparently, Bob is upset about his room that he stayed in last week. He’s not happy with it. For the record, he stayed in one of our Standard Rooms.

My colleague explained to him the difference between our rooms. The reason he stayed in the Standard Room is, once again, because he was booked into one of these rooms. And again, at no point during his stay did he complain to us about his room and that he was dissatisfied.

Most of the time when we get these calls, particularly if they are corporate guests, and they kick up a huge fuss, we offer to upgrade them for free to the next room type either on their current stay (if we’re aware of the issue) or for their future stay. This does come with a proviso, that they do need to realise that in the future that they will need to book the correct room type. So, my colleague offers this to Bob.

Apparently this is not enough. Bob feels that he should get two free nights as compensation.

Yeah, that’s never going to happen. For starters, Bob has stayed one time with us. Ever. Certainly not the regular guest he claimed he was. Secondly, we don’t give out free nights just for this. Free upgrades, maybe, but not free nights. Lastly, and we can never emphasise this enough, you are not entitled to compensation when we give you the room you have booked.

I’m not sure if he ever did email Bossman. But when I called Bossman to ask if he’d returned the call (“Oh… shit! I forgot!”) and to let him know exactly what the ‘complaint’ was, Bossman started cracking up with laughter. So it’s fairly safe to say he’s not getting anything as a freebie.

A little hint, guys: Hotels have records of previous stays. We can tell exactly how many times you’ve stayed – two times since we’ve been open in 2005 does not make you a regular guest.

Pretty much anyone *except* the hotel screwed up your MD’s booking. Sorry.

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 iscrewedupmybossesbooking@company.com, 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.