|The Hampton Inn Team 1999 (I am the second from the right in the back)|
As regular readers of this blog know, I work part-time at a local boutique hotel. Since retired from my chosen career in the banking business (manager, trust operations) I have worked in the hospitality business. You ask "hospitality business, what is that?" That my friends is that I am that person behind the front desk when you check into a hotel.
In 1998 I began work as a part-time night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Lionville, Pennsylvania. When I got out of the Army in 1963 my first job was a night auditor at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel. After getting fired from my job at the Downingtown Bank (I was fired because I was an out gay man, a subject worthy of a book), I was collecting unemployment. Bored with collecting unemployment and unable to find another trust operations banking job, I saw an ad for a weekend night auditor at the local Hampton Inn. I applied and was hired immediately. Then the Adventure began.
|With my co-worker Angelo Vasquez at the Hampton Inn|
We had a lot of fun working together (can you tell?)
I worked at the Hampton Inn for four years. I eventually left the night auditor job (an awful job by the way) to full time at the front desk. I was also an associate sales clerk which meant that I took the sales director's place on weekends because she didn't want to work weekend (she was a princess.)
|Me, Mickey and my Aunt Mabel at Disney World April 2000|
I was successful at my job eventually winning a Best Guest Service Representative Award and a trip to Disney World for two. Yes, I actually could say "I'm going to Disney World!"
|Me with the vice president of Hilton Hotels Corp at the Epcot Center, Disney World accepting my award as Best Guest Service Representative 2000|
|Me taking a load off of my feet at the Hampton Inn|
I left the Hampton Inn in February 2001 and worked full-time for a local bank (in the trust department again). For a short time I worked at the Marriott Residence Inn but left after a month because of the reason stated below.
In November of 2006 I sold our house in Pennsylvania and moved to Delaware for my retirement and to save what little money I had left after the Great Stock Market Rip-Off. Three months after I got settled down I felt like I needed to get out. So what did I do? You got it, I looked for a hotel job.
I got my list of hotels and made the rounds and put in my application. The last hotel (and the one nearest my home) hired me. That hotel is where I have been working the past 3 1/2 years.
This morning I read a very funny blog posting by a good (and very talented writer) friend of mine about his past week's experience as a restaurant host in downtown Rehoboth. I almost fell off my chair laughing reading of his encounters with the restaurant customers and the tourists (aka The Horde) who are replenishing our local coffers with their money this summer season. That brought to mind that I have similar experiences in my job as hotel front desk clerk.
I won't identify where I work to protect the innocent (and me) but here are just some of the questions I got in my job working the front desk:
- The phone rings and the question again is: "Do you have any rooms this weekend?"
- My answer is "No." Then the next question is "Do you know anyone who has rooms?"
- Now this is a trick question because if I answer "Yes" they then ask "What are their rooms like? Are they nice?"
- Now, what do you think I'm going to say? Lewes is a small town. Do they really think I'm going to say "No, they're awful and I wouldn't send my worst enemy there!
- If I fall into the trap of saying their rooms are nice then they ask "How much are they? Do they have a pool?" This last question "Do you have a pool?" drives me crazy. If I had a quarter every time someone asked me "Do you have a pool?" You know what that question means don't you? That means they have kids and want to unload them in the pool, the little darlings.
- Now, while I'm on the phone with this person who is too damn lazy to look up the hotel and call then directly, I have guests waiting to check in and the other line is ringing, probably from someone else wanting to know "Do you have rooms this weekend?"
- So what I do now is make the suggestion to the person on the phone that PERHAPS she (almost always it's a "she") call the hotel DIRECTLY. Do you think?
- The response I get to this suggestion is usually "Oh.......Okay." Sometimes I get "Can't you tell me?" I explain to them that I have guests I have to checkin MY hotel and I have another line ringing. This explanation never is satisfactory to the person on the other end of the line. After all, it is ALL ABOUT THEM.
Now, this is just one "experience" as a hotel front desk clerk at the height of the summer season at a seaside resort. And mind you, I work in a small, laid back town. I don't work in Crazy Town (aka Rehoboth Beach) where there are true horror stories that would dwarf my little frustrations at the front desk.
Every day I go to work I never know what to expect. What truly surprises me is the new questions that I've never had to answer before and the response when I don't have the answer. For instance last week a man (not a guest of the hotel) came into the front desk. He wanted to know where the office was to the condo complex that is located next to the hotel. I told him I didn't know (I found out later there is none). He wasn't satisfied with that answer. He then asked "How much do those condos cost?" I told him I didn't know. With a disgusted smirk on his face he then said "Why don't you know? You work right next to
them?" Now understand I work mightily not to be one of those smart assed guys who work in the customer service business. But, I admit sometimes it is very hard to remain professional especially when confronted by an
arrogant bastard gentleman like this. I answer "No sir, I don't know." Of course this isn't the answer he wants to hear so then he asks "Well, do you know WHO DOES KNOW?" Hey, how about the Lewes Realty Association? I give him that advice which is none to happy to receive because he wants an answer NOW.
Believe it nor not that that wasn't the first time I got that question. So I made it my business to find out if there was an office and how much those condos cost. I found out. There is NO OFFICE and the condos cost A MILLION DOLLARS ON AVERAGE! Also there is NO TURNOVER unless one of the occupants dies. So the next time I got the question I gave this answer. You should have seen the look on his face. I LOVED IT!
So there are just a couple of the fun things that happen at the front desk at the delightful local boutique hotel where I work part-time. One thing I want to make clear though, most of the guests and the folks I encounter every day are pleasant, polite and respectful folks. It's that 1% that are rude, disrespectful and ignorant But you know what? I see them as a challenge which I welcome. I love my job, there is always something unexpected. Keeps me on my toes. Keeps me alive.
|Me today, ready for business|