Hotel Concierges To Cure Your Hangover And Fix Your Love Life

Pouring a drink
Dinner Series, Flickr

If you’re like many hotel guests, you probably just waltz right past the concierge desk without a second thought. After all, unless you need a hard-to-get restaurant reservation or last minute theater tickets, you can probably figure out whatever you want to know with a quick search of Google. But what if we told you your concierge might be able to help you quell that nasty hangover, or that they could put the spark back into your love life?

A growing number of high end hotels are bringing in specialty concierges whose job is to provide more personalized services to hotel guests. For example, Westin Hotels & Resorts has recently employed a running concierge who can share advice and help guests achieve their fitness goals. Meanwhile the Viceroy Riviera Maya has its own soap concierge for the traveler who just can’t bathe without some hand-shaved artisanal soap.

One specialty concierge we can imagine being in high demand is the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans’ “Recovery Concierge.” Guests who partied a little too hard can head to the concierge for hangover help, and might find themselves being prescribed a hair of the dog treatment, an in-room massage, or some fresh fruit to give them a healthy energy boost. And then there’s the “Romance Concierge” at the Rendezvous in St Lucia. Her job is to help romantically challenged individuals woo their partner by organizing private dates on the beach, musical serenades, and private sunset cruises, among other things.

What kind of fantasy concierge service would you like to see in a hotel?

Times Square Concierges Share Laughable Interactions With Travelers

Tourists aren’t always easy to deal with in a congested and dense city like NYC wherein most people get around by foot. But for most New Yorkers, the annoyances don’t go any further than a slow sidewalk commute. Two Times Square hotel concierges, however, have a deeper well of annoyances and amusements from tourists to draw from – and not only are they drawing from that well, they’re publishing from it, too. Their Tumblr blog, How May We Hate You, chronicles their most memorable interactions with tourists staying in Times Square. It’s a goldmine of laughable quotes from tourists. Enjoy.

Hotel Employees Dish Industry Dirt In Reddit Discussion

maidReddit, the popular social news website, has been hosting a lively discussion amongst (alleged) current and former hotel employees across the globe, in which they serve up tantalizing tales of misdeeds, mishaps, scams and shocking industry policies.

Note that there is no verification if any of these anecdotes are real, but they still make for some mighty entertaining reading. If there’s any truth to even half of these stories, just bear them in mind next time you’re tempted to treat a hotel employee like crap. And remember, never sit on the bedspreads.

Some of our picks are below. And yes, they most definitely have the potential to be offensive to some readers. You’ve been warned.

“Check the seals on the things in the minibar. I once had a guest who had drunk the whiskey and then peed in the bottle, closed it, and put it back.”

“Use a towel or sheet on the chairs or sofa, a LOT of people sit on them naked. It’s nasty but there is often a brown streak on the desk chair that no one think about.”

“Your breakfast food is likely always been handled in an unsanitary manner during set up. (typically desk clerk in lower end hotels).”

“During my training, I once found an obvious [semen] crust on the coverlet. I told the woman I was working with that it needed to be cleaned and she responded ‘Just wipe it with a damp cloth until you can’t see it any more,’ like it was no big deal.

“Bedbugs often travel around on luggage. Most guests don’t seem to notice that. Guests who stay at higher-end hotels often spend more time traveling, and thus have a higher chance of taking bedbugs from hotel to hotel.”

toilet“I’ve worked as a chambermaid and the job itself I don’t mind (although I’ve seen some disgusting things) but you have a time limit for each room. I hated leaving a room not fully cleaned but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I tried explaining this to the manager there and he basically said if I needed X amount of time on a room I had two options: work through my break to spend longer on each room, or be replaced by someone else. So I stopped bothering to check under the beds or mattresses and only cleaned what you could see. I didn’t stay there very long…”


“As an ex-housekeeper we used to wash the glasses in the bathroom sink and dry them with a clean pillow case. If they looked unused they wouldn’t get washed.”

“Currently a night auditor for a large hotel chain. Recently a lady had a miscarriage in one of our bath tubs. She didn’t say anything and left us to find it on our own.”

“The front desk will NOT call you at an ungodly late hour, if our “computer crashes” and ask for your credit card information. We will not give you a 50% discount for your cooperation, and no, I would not be calling you if “there is a line at the front desk, so giving me the information over the phone will be quicker.”

“I’ve seen a couple deaths, an alcoholic coma, attempted suicide and a dead maintenance man.”

“The guests shouldn’t be the ones scared in a hotel room (at least not in the hotel where I work). We have to hold our breath every time we enter a room that needs thorough cleaning. You can’t believe the shit we have to deal with sometimes. Most guests are friendly and thankful, but some people truly are animals.”
cowboy
“There’s a pet fee at our hotel. There’s also a ‘dogs and cats only’ policy. During rodeo season a man actually tried to smuggle his horse into his room because he thought it would get lonely outside. The horse clearly did not want to come inside, given the amount of noise it was making. We also do not charge by the hour. We do not set the prices, some suit on the East Coast does. If you need help, please ask as the staff actually might know something. Do not hit on the staff, we will not sleep with you. Do not try to convince the staff to marry your grandson, even if he is a doctor, we will not. We cannot control the weather/road conditions, so don’t bitch at us like we can do anything about a blizzard.

“There is a fine line between haggling and being an asshole. Pro tip for hagglers, do not try to haggle a lower rate in front of other guests. If I agree to give you a lower rate in front of 10 other people, I’m going to have to give 10 more discounts. Pick your moment and negotiate when nobody else is around.”

“Don’t book your hotel room online! The reservations are a pain in the ass to deal with. They were almost always impossible to cancel/refund. They also charge MORE than the actual rate and pay us LESS. (You pay $80 online, we charge $70, we get $50.) I always found it really frustrating that we could be booking the rooms ourselves and making an extra $20 while saving you $10-plus.”

“Just one more piece of advice…be nice to people. If you have a valid complaint bring it to our attention and give us the opportunity to recover. Don’t keep it inside and then blast us on the surveys for something we could’ve fixed. In that same regard don’t come down to the front desk screaming and demanding free nights. The is a compensation matrix that 99% of hotels use, so just because you found one stray hair on your carpet does not mean you will get a free night. However we are more inclined to give a shit if you aren’t a complete asshat.”

[Photo credits: maid, Flickr user Saptarshi Biswas; toilet, Flickr user Ugg Boy; cowboy, Flickr user chefranden]

Airbnb launches concierge services

airbnb conciergeThink booking a home reservation instead of a hotel means that you’ll be lacking in services? Think again. Today, Airbnb launched their new concierge service, a completely free add-on to their reservations platform, allowing 24/7 access to the site’s team of research experts.

They’ll be on hand to help with everything from finding dinner reservations or a new phone charger but can also help with pre-trip services like weather advice, rental cars and even last-minute travel re-bookings.

Although it’s called Airbnb Concierge, the service really is more like that of a full-service travel agency. They’ll even file a police report, refill prescriptions or help replace lost credit cards.

Combine this with highly competitive pricing options for overnight stays and Airbnb has just jumped up a notch in our overall travel ratings book. It will be interesting to see if other rental sites follow suit.

[Flickr via ilovememphis]

Gadling Q & A with Daniel Edward Craig, author and hotel consultant

Daniel Edward Craig shares a name with the current James Bond, and like 007, he’s a world traveler and a man of many hats. He’s taken a career in hotel management and a keen ear for storytelling and parlayed it into a murder mystery book series, an engaging industry blog, and a hotel and social media consultancy. Here he tells Gadling about his history in the travel world, who’s providing the best social media content for travelers, and what’s next in hotel trends.

Tell me about your history in the hotel and travel business.

I’ve worked in hotels off and on for about twenty years. I started on the front desk at the Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto and went on to work for a range of hotels, from big-box to boutique, in positions ranging from duty manager to vice president. Most recently, I was vice president and general manager of Opus Hotels in Vancouver and Montreal.

What title do you think best captures your profession these days
?

These days I work as an author and hotel consultant. I left Opus at the end of 2007, shortly after my first novel was published, to complete the second and third novels in the Five-Star Mystery series. Now I am working on a fourth book as well as various consulting projects for the hotel industry, ranging from social media strategy to executive coaching. I also continue to write my blog and articles about the hotel industry. It’s been a rough few years for hotels, and I think we could all use some levity, so in my writing I try to take a lighthearted look at issues.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to managing a hotel?

I hope so. Hotels are my first love; writing is secondary. As a hotel manager, I feel fully engaged and at my best, whereas as a writer all my neurotic tendencies come out. Writing is a solitary profession, and I’m better as part of a team. Once I finish my current book at the end of this year, I’ll decide what’s next, and that could very well involve a return to hotels full-time. I’ll always write, but after a year of 4:00 AM mornings and late nights, I promised myself never to write books and manage a hotel at the same time.

What are you most critical of as a hotel guest?

I’m extremely service oriented. I’ll cut a property a lot of slack if it isn’t my style or if facilities are limited, but bad service can ruin my trip. In particular, I dislike overly scripted, apathetic service. I love a hotel with originality and a lot of life in the lobby. And I look for soul, a combination of design, culture, clientele and spirit, that intangible feeling that I’m in the right place. That’s why I prefer independent boutique hotels – it’s easier for them to do these things well.

What’s your favorite hotel?

Don’t make me choose! It depends on my mood and the nature of travel. I was just in Chicago and was blown away by the new Elysian Hotel. If I’m relaxing or working, I like the Four Seasons. I can’t always afford to stay in them, but I will splurge on a drink in the lounge and will hang around until I’m asked to leave. My favorite is the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris. But I also love contemporary boutique hotels. I’m a city boy, and when I feel like socializing I want to stay in a hotel with a scene, like the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, and the Clift in San Francisco. XV Beacon in Boston is also one of my faves.

Given the many social media experts today, how do you stand apart?

I’d never call myself a social media expert. Who can keep up? I’m a hotelier first, who happens to know a lot about social media and reputation management. Social media allows me to combine my two professions as a hotelier and an author, because essentially it’s about storytelling. Social media touches every department in a hotel, and as a former general manager I understand the interplay and interdependence involved, and to rise above individual departmental interests to develop a strategy that benefits the hotel as a whole.

What hotels/travel companies do you think are doing social media “well”?

I think there are a number of hotel companies that do certain aspects of social media well, but nobody is doing anything particularly innovative. HKHotels in New York are doing a great job of reputation management. Best Western runs a good Facebook page. InterContinental Hotel Group makes great concierge videos. The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee manages Twitter well. Red Carnation Hotels in London and Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver have good blogs. Joie de Vivre Hotels does great contests.

Hoteliers are great storytellers, and with all the comings and goings of guests we have a rich resource of content to draw from, and yet this isn’t translating to social media. A lot of hotel content is trite and uninspiring, and most of the voices sound the same: perky and vaguely annoying. Hotels can learn a lot from online reviewers, who spin the best stories, with strong points of view, hooks, humor, trivia and facts. I think there are huge opportunities for the hotel industry, and I’d love to help a hotel become the social media hotel in a given destination.

What made you start writing murder mysteries?

I always wanted to write, and naively thought that writing a mystery would be fun and easy. They say write what you know, and at the time I was working as a duty manager, so I set it in a hotel. Ten years later, Murder at the Universe was published. For me it was a one-off, but my publisher liked the idea of a hotel manager who writes mysteries set in hotels, so they contracted me to develop it into a series. Since then I’ve published Murder at Hotel Cinema and Murder at Graverly Manor.

After three novels, I started to get bored with my protagonist, the hapless hotelier Trevor Lambert, and all that whining. And there could only be so many murders in his hotels before people started suspecting him. The book I’m finishing up now is non-fiction, an irreverent insider’s look at hotels, written for travelers.

What do you see as the next big trends in hotels?

Mobile is huge. Increasingly, people are researching, booking and recommending travel via smart phones. Social media will grow as people continue to bypass travel journalists and hotels for travel information in favor of travelers, friends and social networks, all from the palm of the hand. When it comes down to it, however, above all hotel guests still want comfort, convenience and value. They just have much larger audiences to air their grievances to when they don’t get what they want.

What’s next for you?

After I finish the book, I’ll put book writing on hold for now and will continue to work on hotel projects, to blog, and to write articles. I’m starting to book quite a few speaking engagements in 2011. My platform as an author and hotelier is quite unique, and social media reputation management are hot topics. If I find a good job with a progressive hotel company, great, but until then I have no shortage of things to keep me occupied.

Read all about Daniel Edward Craig, his books, and his blog at his website, www.danieledwardcraig.com