Travel Tips & Hotel stories

Traveler’s Tips
This one is of for people that don’t stay at hotels very often; I’m going to let you in an industry secret here. We don’t like Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, and especially Priceline. This doesn’t really apply at low and middle market hotels, such as Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, etc; however at the Business Class/Convention hotels such as Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, etc we don’t like the resellers.

Here’s how that works. Say you want to stay at the Hyatt in Anytown, Washington. You go to priceline.com and bid whatever, and the Hyatt pops up for some stupid low rate. So you get that; and end up at a 4 star hotel for 75 bucks a night. The reason that the super low rate was available is because the hotel is trying to fill rooms – they’re trying to fill rooms because they weren’t able to attract better (read: higher rates) business for whenever you’re staying.

But there’s even more to it. Priceline doesn’t pay the hotel what you paid them. You could have paid Priceline $99 for that room, odds are that the hotel is getting maybe $50-60 of that. So, the hotel’s not making a lot of money off that Priceline room; sometimes they’re just barely breaking even.

There’s a definite bias against the travel websites in the hotel industry; but it’s not a conscious bias. It’s partly based of the amount of money that Priceline/Travelocity/whatever rooms go for, but the other factor is that there’s also less potential for this person to be a repeat customer. We know that you went on Priceline and typed in a number – you didn’t do anything to pick the hotel you’re staying at. That carries a lot of weight. Hotel employees want to feel like you want to be there, it actually makes the job they do a lot easier. When I would see a Pricline or Orbitz or whomever reservation, my first thought would be “oh goody, someone who wants to pay $60 bucks to stay anywhere”. That’s the start of the bias. It trickles down to the line employees, because they hear me bitching about it to the reservations manager for opening us up, and she bitches to the sales managers for not attracting some better business, who bitch to…well, you get the idea. That’s the bias.

If you’re thinking about making a hotel reservation on Priceline or any of the others, I’d actually recommend that you visit a few hotel’s websites first. Quite often there are special web only rates available on the website which beat the rates you could get over the phone from the hotel. If you book at Hyatt.com or marriott.com it tells the employees that you actually wanted to be at their hotel; and that means something. Also – don’t be a dick. The unfortunate side of Priceline, et al is that they tend to attract customers with a grand sense of entitlement. These customers then complain about silly shit, and then they say stuff like “I’m paying X for this room blah blah blah” and generally act like a dick. Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.

Hotel Story
Many moons ago, I was running the bell department during a rather busy convention; pretty much par for the course. However, this particular convention was a cheerleading competition. Now, normally I’d be all sized up for something like that…except that this was a junior cheerleading competition. Which means no girls over the age of 12. Let me tell you, a bunch of teeny girls running around in spandex and more makeup than some hookers is downright disturbing. However, even more disturbing than the 8 year old cheerleaders were the mothers of the 8 year old cheerleaders, busy living vicariously through their daughters.

Tall Christian Bellman comes up to me during the afternoon rush and utters words that I never want to hear. “Ahab, the lady I just checked in wants to talk to you.” My inner monologue instantly says “Oh fuck”; but I button my jacket and proceed to the customer in question.

Angry Cheer Mom is about 350 pounds of pissed off on a 140 pound body. She is mad. I idly wondered what was going to melt first, me, her perfectly applied makeup, or the starbucks cup she was clenching in her left hand.

ACM: Are “you” the manager?

Ahab: Yes ma’am, my name is Ahab. What seems to be the problem?

ACM: You don’t seem old enough to be the manager.

Ahab: (I will kill you) I assure you, I am the manager for this department; how may I assist you?

ACM: Your bellman touched my daughter’s underwear.

Ahab: I’m very sorry to hear that, I can assure you that…he did what?

ACM: He touched her underwear.

At this moment, I’m EXTREMELY confused, as Tall Christian Bellman was one of my most outstanding employees, while he had a crass streak he was nothing but professional while on the job.

Ahab: Uh…how exactly did this happen?

ACM: When we were in the room, after he unloaded our bags from his cart; some of my daughter’s underwear was on the floor and he…touched…it.

Ahab: (Oh thank god, he didn’t touch her) So, the underwear was on the floor? Why did he touch it?

ACM: I didn’t want him handling my daughter’s bag with her costumes and underwear in it, so I got it off the cart.

Ahab: Okay – then how did the underwear end up on the floor?

At this point, ACM looks at me like I’ve suddenly grown a 2nd nose right on the middle of my face.

ACM: It spilled, obviously. There was underwear and costumes and make-up all over the floor! That’s when he reached down and touched her underwear!

Ahab: The bag…spilled? And TCB was trying to pick up some of the…contents of the bag? Did he touch more than just underwear?

ACM: Well…yes. He grabbed some of her makeup; I thought he was going to try and take it.

Ahab: I see.

ACM: So, what are you going to do about this?

Ahab: I’ll speak with TCB right away; we’ll review the appropriateness of his actions. I assure you, this won’t happen again.

So, I walk over to Tall Christian Bellman after ACM leaves, and with my sternest look inform him: “TCB; you have got to stop helping people when they drop their shit. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.” The moral of the story? People are insane.

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