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What Not To Do At A Hotel Front Desk

Updated on November 7, 2013

The Best Ways to Get What You Want at the Hotel

Why do some people seem to get everything they want at a hotel, while others (perhaps you) just get the bare minimum? Want to change that? These simple tips, written by a hotel industry veteran, are sure to help.

  1. Be nice. This is so, so important. The hotel staff deals with tons of guests, many of whom want something (extra) from them. If you're obnoxious/rude/demanding, or even if you have a subtle attitude in your manner, you'll get the bare minimum and nothing more. Why should they do you a favor if you are making their lives miserable?
  2. Don't Talk Too Much. No one, including the hotel agent, wants to hear about your Aunt Tillie's knee operation or your layover in Pittsburgh. Chances are, the phones are ringing or other guests are waiting in line behind you, and the staff member is under pressure to hurry up. If you are a time suck for him/her, they might resent it and not want to go out of their way for you. Just do the staff a favor and, pleasantly, of course, GET TO THE POINT.
  3. Know what you want. This is different than being demanding. If you just say, "Can you do anything for me?", this is vague and puts the burden on the Front Desk agent to decide specifically what you want. Say something like, "Do you have a Times Square/ocean/city view available?" Or "Could I get a room on a high floor?" and now he/she knows exactly what to look for.
  4. Don't ask if the room is nice. This is very insulting to anyone who has pride in their hotel. Of course the rooms are all nice, and if they're not, you think they're going to actually TELL you they're giving you a crappy room? Use common sense and ask if by any chance there's a suite available or a larger room, etc.
  5. Don't mention who you know. Trust me, if you're that important, the agent already sees notes to that effect in the computer. If the General Manager has made special arrangements for you, it'll be plain as day and already taken care of. And if not, there will be nothing written, so the agent will know you are, at the very least, exaggerating. They may pity you for feeling the need to puff yourself up, but they won't upgrade you. And this leads to...
  6. Don't lie. No one wants to be treated as stupid, and that goes double for Front Desk people, who get this all the time. Just think for a minute - do you really think the girl/guy across the desk from you doesn't know how the hotel works? Trust me, they know much better than you do. If you tell them that "somebody told you" you wouldn't have to pay for parking, or "you were promised an upgrade" (there's that vagueness again), you might as well flash a neon sign that says "LIAR". And you will get what you deserve - nothing.
  7. Get off the phone. While the Front Desk man/woman may not want to be your best friend, they do expect to interact with you for those brief couple of minutes you're in front of them. Do not chat on your cell phone while checking in, ignoring the staff member, and expect them to go the extra mile for you. If it's an emergency, stand to the side until you're ready.
  8. Listen. Nothing is more aggravating than having to repeat the same sentence three times or be asked the same question over and over. It's showing the staff member you don't think their time is important. If you take the time to ask for information, just LISTEN when it's given to you. Write it down, if necessary.
  9. Don't cut the line. The Front Desk agents can see you marching in front of other customers, in effect telling them you think you're more important than anybody else. Huge no-no. If they are smart, they will politely ask you to wait in line. Even if they don't, believe me, they saw you. All you've done is antagonize the staff, who has to deal with the wrath of the other guests as soon as you leave.
  10. Don't ask for extraordinary favors without tipping. In most hotels where there are no rules against it, tipping is always much appreciated. Especially if you ask for something really off the beaten path - 200 copies without a charge, a 4PM checkout, coming up to their room to help them get online - fork over a crisp $20. Or $50. If you must give less, anything is better than nothing. But more is better than less. You will be pleasantly surprised at the mileage you can get in terms of special treatment.
  11. Never, ever curse. Even if something is legitimately wrong and you are in the right, cursing immediately brands you as low class. You will have much more credibility if you express your displeasure in a dignified manner.
  12. Be responsible for your own punctuality. Don't call the bell stand 3 minutes before you have to be in a cab and expect them to "come right away". Most of the time, there will be several other guests who have called before you - and it would be unfair to them if the bellman took you first, just because you didn't plan your time correctly.

So hopefully, these tips will help you in your quest for VIP treatment at hotels - and the principles apply in any service situation. You'll be amazed at the results!

Let's See Where You Fall On the Upgrade Meter

Your attitude is tantamount - and can be detected by the Front Desk staff. What's yours?

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