Hotel Employees Dish Industry Dirt In Reddit Discussion

Reddit, 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.”

“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.”

“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]

Your hotel room safe: not as safe as you think

Most travel safety tips suggest that you should always remember to leave your valuables in the hotel safe. But just how “safe” is it? A new video posted by consultant skyrangerpro suggests that your hotel safe may not be as secure as you think.

Posted while skyranger was on travel in Markham, Ontario (hotel name not specified), the electronic safety boxes that allow you to program your own four digit codes opened with the default code of all zeroes, usually 0000. This standard safe looks just like most of the ones we’ve found in our hotels across the country.

It’s a valuable lesson for travelers who think they are being secure with their valuables – check to make sure this password isn’t your default setting before storing goods in your safe. If it is, opt to check your goodies at the front desk (where another safety box is usually available).

Our intrepid gear reporter Scott Carmichael wrote about the hotel safe issue back in 2009, and suggested a worthwhile but expensive alternative – a personalized locking device. Sean McLachlan suggested ways to hide valuables around your hotel room.

Tell us, which tactic would you take?

Open Letter to Hotel GMs: Mistakes your employees make that will cost you money

The travel industry suffered its own setbacks over the past few years, but thankfully, it’s rebounding and more U.S. travelers are finally packing their bags and heading out of town for a much-needed vacation. They’ve saved their money, planned carefully and are ready for a few days of rest and relaxation in their destination of choice. They’ve chosen your hotel as a place to call home for the duration of their vacation – don’t you want to make a good impression?

Over the past six months I’ve reviewed dozens of hotels and witnessed endless customer service strategies – both bad and good. Recently, however, I’ve witnessed some strange behavior from hotel employees that have lead me to question the employee competency of some otherwise wonderful hotels. Sure, I understand there is a learning curve, but at the end of the day it’s essential that hotel employees are educated to answer even the most common questions. So, I think it’s time for a quick review (from one hotel aficionado to another).

I’ve worked for years in and out of hotels on reviews and inspections, and with every hotel I’ve walked into one thing remains constant: first impressions are key to a successful stay. The following five points are common sense, but they can make the difference between a happy guest and a loss in revenue.

  1. Security is sacred: We’re taught at an early age to protect our investments. In the hotel industry, your guests are your investments and it’s your responsibility to protect them. During a recent hotel stay in Santa Monica, a friend came to visit me at the hotel where I was staying for one night. She went the front desk and asked the associate to ring my room. Instead, the front desk associate gave her my room number and sent her up the elevator – no call, no questions. Security fail! After the incidents surrounding the Erin Andrews stalking case, hotels should be even more protective of their guests and employees. Unfortunately, this hotel didn’t see the problem (even after I pointed it out) but the problem is now the hotel’s: they just lost two very valuable would-be clients.
  2. Obey the rules: Just as hotel guests are expected to obey rules, hotels are expected to enforce the rules. Guests pay for more than a place to sleep – they pay for comfort, amenities and ambiance. So, when a hotel allows the rules to be broken, everyone loses. Case in point: At a recent hotel in the Bahamas the hotel posted various signs telling guests it’s required to cover up when entering the lobby from the pool/beach area, and children under the age of 16 are not allowed in the spa area. Unfortunately, guests have a habit of making themselves at home when they check into hotels, but it’s the hotel’s responsibility to enforce the house rules. This means telling guests who are standing in their thong bikinis in the lobby to cover up, and reminding guests who make spa appointments that children are not allowed. While I can appreciate a buff man in a swimsuit, I also appreciate the atmosphere of a beautiful hotel lobby, and I certainly don’t want a teenager texting on her cell phone (complete with built-in camera) in the spa dressing room.
  3. Keep it clean: There’s nothing worse than finding a used bar of soap in the shower or a half-eaten tray of food in the room when your guest first arrives. Hotels: do your part to ensure the rooms are clean before giving out a key. While a guest might be annoyed that their room isn’t ready upon arrival, they’ll be more annoyed that their room isn’t clean when they walk in. The same theory holds true for hotel restaurants and bar areas. I recently stayed at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, which means all meals were part of the price. The breakfasts and lunches were buffet style, which would have been fine if the restaurant staff had kept an eye on the food and try tables. Unfortunately, cheese was congealing in front of me and empty trays of grease were left to harden on the buffet. Food should be presentable and appealing – this isn’t camp, this is a vacation, and your guests deserve more than leftovers and scraps at the table.
  4. A little help goes a long way. It’s unrealistic to assume one person at the hotel can solve all problems, but a simple acknowledgment of the problem and a call to the right person will keep your customers at peace until the issue is being resolved. I was sadly without hot water during a recent hotel stay. I called down to the front desk to ask for someone to look into the problem, and was told I had to call another extension. I called that other extension and no one answered. When I called the front desk back, I was told to call back later because maybe ‘he’s out running errands.’ A simple “We’ll put a call into maintenance for you” would have sufficed. Remind your employees of the typical customer service responses which, while standard and won’t produce an immediate fix, will at least provide your guest with some assurance that the problem will be taken care of in an appropriate amount of time.
  5. Honesty really is the best policy. Things can go wrong. It happens. No one is perfect, not even a 5-star resort, but when things do go wrong there’s only one way to immediately remedy the problem: honesty. From something as simple as a room not being ready on time to solving problems on a larger scale, when employees lie in an effort to appease a guest, it simply makes matters worse. Give guests the benefit of the doubt — when you’re honest with them, it’s likely they’ll be more accepting of the change, however big or small.

Let’s state the obvious: some people will never be satisfied, and it’s likely you’ve had a few of those people waltz through your hotel over time. I’m sure your employees did everything they could do to please those demanding guests, and on behalf of the less-demanding crowd, we thank you (and we know it’s not easy). Just remember: while mistakes will happen, there are ways to fix the problem without losing a loyal customer.

Hiding valuables in your hotel room

Every hotel tells you not to leave valuables in your room. They suggest using the hotel safe, and for the most part that’s a good plan. But what if the hotel safe isn’t safe? What if the “safe” is merely an unlocked drawer at the reception desk? This is too often the case with hotels in the developing world.

One option is to always keep your valuables with you. This isn’t always convenient or wise, such as if you’re going out on a pub crawl where you might be bum-rolled or attending a religious service where it would be inappropriate to bring a camera. So if you must stash stuff in your room, here are some ideas.

Under the mattress: This old trick is surprisingly effective for small items if you take a few precautions. First, make sure to stash your passport/money in the middle of the mattress, where it can’t be found by simply pulling up one corner. Also, spread out some clothes or a book on top. The cleaning staff will be less tempted to disturb the bed. Finally, make sure to do this after the bed has already been made for the day.

Hiding in plain sight: In the Edgar Allan Poe story “The Purloined Letter”, a clever thief baffles police by hiding a stolen letter in plain sight by refolding it and adding a different address. People make assumptions about what they’re seeing, and thus are easily fooled. A pile of worthless papers can easily hide a passport. A few dollars left carelessly in plain view keeps the thief from looking further.These are two of my favorites, and in twenty years and 28 countries of travel I’ve never been robbed. (Well, I got my pocket picked the first hour I was in Pakistan, but that wasn’t in a hotel room). Looking for fresh ideas, I decided to ask a creative group of people–authors. Here’s what they came up with.

Lock your suitcase: Brenna Lyons says, “have a locked suitcase. Someone could steal the entire suitcase, but that’s extreme. Or they could get lock cutters and cut the lock off…also extreme.”

Hide stuff in other stuff: Brenna Lyons again, “One thing I’ve done before is get a dark-colored plastic bottle and place something small and valuable, wrapped in tissue and/or plastic, inside it. If it looks like shampoo or something, people don’t tend to look twice. If you have one of those little clear toiletry cases with a bunch inside, and one or two have valuables in them, they really don’t look. If you’re really inventive, you can put something like shampoo or lotion in the container over or around the valuables (either using a plastic bag or a smaller bottle).” Jean Hart Stewart has a hollowed out paperback she uses to hide stuff, and she puts it with a bunch of real paperbacks. She better not have destroyed one of my titles!

Taping an envelope in a hidden place: I do this too, but Bob Nailor describes it best.
“Bring a spare envelope and tape. 1) Tape to bottom of trashcan and DON’T USE IT! Housekeeping won’t move it.

2) Tape to bottom of desk, table, or inside of drawer.
3) Tape it to the inside of bi-fold doors, on a solid section, if available. As the doors are opened, the doors close on themselves, hiding the envelope.”

Where do you stash your stuff? Share your secrets in the comments section!

Hotel safety tips: How to choose the best hotel room, best hotel location

When it comes to your safety, hotels can be your best source of security while traveling. While hotels are constantly making improvements to improve their safety, there’s nothing worse than discovering your passport has been stolen or your laptop is broken thanks to a disabled door lock and a fast thief.

While you’re searching for your next hotel, keep these safety tips top of mind.

What makes a safe hotel:

Never compromise your safety for a dollar. A great deal on hotel room can certainly cushion you budget, but it’s worthless if the hotel is in a bad neighborhood or isn’t up to code on things like door locks and surveillance cameras. Once you find the right location, narrow down your hotel choices by taking into consideration the following:

  • Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
  • Does the hotel room have an electronic guest room lock? Key locks are cute and add a bit of charm, but electronic doors track the comings-and-goings of all who enter.
  • Do the hotel rooms have a telephone enabled with emergency call button or the ability dial outside of the hotel?
  • Do photos of the hotel show well-lit hallways, parking garages and lobby areas? (Side note: never book a hotel without viewing pictures first).
  • Hotels with limited entry/exit options usually have less foot-traffic, which keeps stragglers off the premises.
  • Does the hotel provide 24-hour concierge/security? Knowing someone is on duty at all times allows for peace of mind if you’re feeling unsafe.
  • Before booking a hotel room in an international destination, make sure it’s in a safe area by checking with the US Embassy in that country.

When arriving at your hotel:

  • Stay with your luggage at all times. If a bellman offers to take your bags, make sure to keep the bag with your laptop, wallet and jewelry in it, and get the Bellman’s name.
  • Once you check in, grab a few hotel cards or matchbooks with the hotel’s address on it and place them in your bag. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number ready to give to a cab driver.

Selecting the safest hotel room:

  • While the higher floors have the best views, the lower floors have quicker access to the ground. In the event of an emergency, you want to get out fast. Keep in mind that some fire departments, including those in the United States, can only reach as high as floor 8 in an emergency.
  • Whenever possible, do not take a hotel room on the ground floor if it has doors and windows that open to the outside. This is particularly important for motels with rooms off parking lots. If you can’t get a room on a higher floor, forgo your view and choose a room facing the interior or courtyard.
  • Guestrooms near the elevators are generally the safest, but can also be the noisiest. If you’re staying alone, request that your room is in the middle of the hallway or near an elevator – while the alcoves and corner rooms are very intimate and offer great views, they are also somewhat hidden making it easier for thieves to access.

After arriving in your room, check for the following:

  • If the hotel room you’re staying in has older door locks (metal keys instead of the electronic key cards) make sure to check the deadbolt and safety chain when you arrive in your room. If they seem jittery or loose, ask to change rooms.
  • Check the closets and bathrooms for anything left from the last guests and ensure all windows and adjoining doors shut and lock properly.
  • Check the phone to make sure an outside line is accessible.
  • Locate the nearest fire exit and count how many doors along the way until you reach the exit. In the event of a fire and heavy smoke, counting the doors will ensure you get to safety if you can’t see.

When you leave your hotel room:

  • Leave the television on – it gives the impression someone is in the room. Ask the maid service to keep the TV on or turn on the radio during turn-down service.
  • The ‘please make up my room’ sign is also code for ‘I’m not here’. Don’t worry about making your bed or needing clean towels – maid service keeps track of the rooms and what’s been cleaned, so they’ll get to you regardless of whether you have the sign on your door. If you don’t need your room serviced, place the “Do not disturb” sign on your door when you leave. This gives the impression you’re inside.
  • If you have valuables and don’t have an in-room safe, ask to use the security vault in the hotel. If you have an in-room safe, use it!

Now that you’re armed with the best hotel safety tips, get out of your room and enjoy your trip!