Hospitality Hints, Part I

hospitality picA few months ago I wrote a multi-part blog discussing how business etiquette has diminished in certain areas throughout the years. This time around I’d like to help the general public help a certain industry with some beneficial advice. I’m speaking about the hospitality industry.

I’ve worked in the motel/hotel business for over fourteen years and have come to be frustrated with a percentage of guests, or potential guests. So I want to offer my advice that will help you help the desk clerks in providing you with the best of service. I think these items also can be applied to other businesses. I know I have learned with experience and have tried to incorporate these items when I’m on the other side of the desk. I know some of you are rolling your eyes because with the years, I have learned to tolerate fools less and less. However, I have tried to be patient and survive the annoying experiences with as little verbal bloodshed as possible.

I want to say, and I’ll repeat myself later, that most desk clerks really want to help. Sometimes they are stifled by policy but most will accommodate if at all possible. Most will have a great attitude. Some may have overdosed on the happy pills, but that’s okay. They could be grumpy (and yes, I’ve run into those.)

1. Talk to the clerk and only the clerk.

When phoning a motel/hotel (henceforth just motel, but it implies both), don’t be talking to somebody else in your car/house/business when the other party answers. It really bugs the clerk, at least it does me, because I feel as I’ve interrupted something by answering the phone.

2. Listen to the clerk when he/she answers.

I include this at the beginning because I’ve run into several instances where the person thinks he’s reached one location but actually is speaking to another. Example: A person tries calling the Grinnell Super 8 but somehow the connection is fouled and he ends up getting the Burlington Super 8. Listen to the clerk because the normal greeting includes the name of the city and the motel brand name. This will save a lot of confusion later.

3. Be prepared.

This old Boy Scout motto will help not only with the first piece advice but with the entire process. When you call to inquire about availability, prices, or to make a reservation, have all the information on hand at the time you call. Know when you’re coming, how long you’re staying, how many people will be in your party and the type of room you’re desiring. Each of the above may, and probably will be, a factor in determining room price.

If you’re going to make a reservation, have all of this information handy. Frustration sets in for the clerk when you don’t know when you’re coming, whether cousin Ralph will be joining you, or if you might want to spend an extra day to see the boulder rolling tournament on Sunday. Also, have your credit/debit card handy if you want to guarantee the room. Don’t be like the grocery shopper with a cart full of food who gets up to the register, waits in line behind five other people, waits until the cashier has scanned and bagged all the items, then realizes he/she has to pay for it and digs through a pocket/purse to find the checkbook/credit card, thereby making those behind wait longer. You know you have to pay, have your payment method ready at the time. Note: Many motels will not make a reservation without a credit card on file even if you’re paying cash at the time of check in.

4. Be aware of the type of establishment you’re calling.

Bob’s Motel is going to be different than the Hilton. Some people have a mind-set about the brand names of some motels and many of the better brands are trying to improve their reputation and, for the most part have succeeded. Prices aren’t what they used to be and be aware that motels, like other businesses, will charge what the market can bear, but will also strive to be competitive. Be aware, however, that the clerks will usually give the rack rate, or the most expensive rate and may even try to sell you the most expensive room. Ask for discounts if you’re qualified. (Triple A, Senior discount, military discount, government discount. Some companies have negotiated rates with a specific motel/hotel.) Most times different types of rooms will have different prices. Ask about amenities that may justify the price. You might be surprised that motel you thought should be cheaper, is actually cheaper than others in the neighborhood and offer similar cool extras.

5. Ask for a confirmation number for your reservation.

Need I explain about mishaps, lost reservations, and SNAFUs? The confirmation number is your back up which may help solve any problems.

Check in next week for Part II.

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