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]

Infographic: The Future Of Hotels Is Green

It was only a matter of time before someone made a snazzy infographic on the wastefulness of the hotel industry. This one comes from blog, with information sourced from the U.S. Green Building Council, American Hotel & Lodging Association, NFL, U.S. Energy Information Association, Energy Star, Environmental Protection Agency, Siemens and

The graphic features plenty of interesting information nuggets and analogies, like:

  • Hotels create 1.9 billion pounds of waste each year, enough to fill 37 million suitcases.
  • They also use 84.7 billion kwh of energy per year, enough to power 64.5 million television sets.
  • If one person took a shower non-stop for 277 years, it would be equivalent to the amount of water used by hotels each year.
  • Hotels also produce 60 million tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to that generated by 10.6 million cars and 12 coal-fired power plants.

Shocking, eh? For a look at what would happen if both hotels and guests adopted greener policies, click on “Read More” for the full graphic.


What do business travelers want? Not just clean rooms!

With business travel on the rise, hotels are probably thinking about how to make these lucrative customers as happy as possible. After all, a frequent business traveler can be on the road 40 weeks a year or more (been there, I assure you), and they don’t always have the same flexibility as leisure travelers. There’s a big opportunity here, especially with business travel set to increase next year.

“Consumers are more value-conscious than ever and have been conditioned to expect more for their money after a steady diet of recession-era deals. The tipping point for hotels to differentiate their brand offering and strengthen loyalty among the post-recessionary business traveler will be providing additional complementary services and amenities tailored to their guests’ specific needs,” said Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman and tourism, hospitality and leisure sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Beyond traditional incentives, hotels are realizing the importance of developing their online presence, particularly with mobile platforms, to capitalize on a crucial touch point for brand communication.”

For both sectors, however, now would be a pretty smart time to listen to a group of customers that is about to start spending more money. Global professional services firm Deloitte recently surveyed 1,001 business travelers and has revealed the information that the travel industry can use to connect with its best target market more effectively.

Here’s what business travelers want:1. Work-friendly room: 68 percent of business travelers often work in their rooms, Deloitte said in a statement following the survey. And for a long time, I was one of them. If a room is not designed for me to get stuff done – from a desk to wifi access – the room doesn’t work. The amenities, artwork and staff responsiveness don’t matter if a business traveler can’t work comfortably.

2. Better than clean and comfy: are you satisfied with a clean room and a comfortable bed? Well, you’re probably alone. Deloitte found that 65 percent of business travelers “expect a lot more from a hotel” than that.

3. Business on internet time: it’s hardly responding that 79 percent of the respondents felt that high-speed web access was an important amenity. Seventy-seven percent cited free parking, as well.

4. Rewards for loyalty: 30 percent of business travelers, according to the Deloitte survey, “felt their favorite hotel brand was so important to them that they would stay at that hotel brand even if it were not in the most convenient location.” Interestingly, this level of loyalty was highest among respondents earning at least $150,000 a year.

There’s more than brand familiarity going on here, I suspect (again, my suspicion, not Deloitte’s). Rewards for loyalty sure help, and I remember it influencing a lot of business travel behavior when I was living the road warrior life.

5. Device love: almost half of survey respondents said they have a web-enabled smartphone. Meanwhile, this is true of 84 percent of the 18-to-29 business traveler crowd and 63 percent of business travelers earning more than $150,000 a year. Twenty-six percent of respondents have downloaded a hotel app to a device, with 54 percent of them using it “primarily to book a room.”

Hotels to ditch front desks in the next three years

Is the hotel front desk a thing of the past?

I was pretty blown away by this concept, which I ran into on MSNBC yesterday. It seems that the Los Angeles Andaz hotel and the Andaz in New York City have both gotten rid of the front desk. Instead, the hotel is greeting guests with a “host” bearin wine, a great chair and the chance to choose a room by laptop. The move, intended to be high-touch and personal, has played differently in both locations – welcomed in LA and not so much in Manhattan.

Yet, it could signal the next big trend in the hotel industry. The personal welcomes do focus more on the guest, and the thought of waiting in a comfy lobby chair instead of standing in line laden with baggage is pretty attractive. So far, Courtyard by Marriott has moved away from the front desk concept in 201 of its 800 lobbies in the United States, favoring “welcome pedestals” instead. By 2013, it hopes to complete the transition.

Changes are coming at other hotels, too, according to MSNBC:

Several thousand customers who already carried Starwood Preferred Guest cards were texted their room numbers before arriving at the Aloft Lexington in Massachusetts, allowing them to bypass the front desk and head to their floor. Once there, they simply tapped their preferred guest card on the door lock for room access. That pilot program is being expanded to Alofts in Harlem, Brooklyn, Jacksonville, Fla. and Brussels, Belgium.

James Sinclair, principal of OnSite Consulting, which focuses on the hospitality and restaurant industries, expects the front-desk concept to last another 36 months. In addition to appealing to many travelers, the move is expected to cut operating costs and give hotels a bit more breathing room follow a trying economic period.

[photo by prayitno via Flickr]

Airlines and hotels: the travails of accommodating a recovery

Market conditions are turning for the travel and hospitality industry. More people are leaving home behind for a while, and they are again willing to open their wallets to do so. Especially in the highly coveted business travel sector, seats are filling and rooms are being occupied. So, it would stand to reason that airlines and hotels would move to address the increase in demand. Unfortunately, accommodating growth can be risky in these industries. Every step must be made carefully and deliberately, with a plan for taking existing demand to a higher level.

Think about your local grocery store. If cans of corn start to sell aggressively, the store can examine the trend and order more for the following week. It may have to allocate a bit of extra shelf space, perhaps at the expense of canned peas The risk isn’t that high, though, because demand can be handled in smaller increments.

The core product isn’t as flexible in the travel and hospitality business. As people look to book more rooms or flights, a hotel or airline can’t simply add a bed or a seat. Airlines can add routes (or restore those that have been cut), but that creates a new problem.
Assume that demand for a particular route has grown from the norm to the point that another one third of a plane’s seats would be filled. New revenue is coming in the door, but cash is also going out to cover the cost of operating the flights. To make this growth profitable, the airline may have to fill more of the seats on that new flight. To accommodate demand, essentially, the airline will have to create even more.

This is the reasoning behind United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek’s remark on an earnings call recently, as reported by the Associated Press, “We will not grow for growth’s sake, but only if we can maximize our profitability by doing so.”

For the hospitality industry, the challenge can be even greater. A major chain may see an opportunity to take on more guests by adding another property, but this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort and capital to get a hotel up and operational, especially in a major city. During the time it takes to plan and execute an expansion, market conditions can change substantially, as the hospitality industry learned with the credit crisis of 2008. Real estate and financial market conditions can have a magnified impact on the hotel business, and the underlying drivers move far more quickly than those supporting increases in rooms capacity.

Projects already in the works in 2008 left the industry with more supply than it needed in 2009 and 2010, and demand for rooms, according to travel industry research firm PhoCusWright, isn’t expected to return to 2007 levels until next year. This means that net growth won’t begin until 2008.

Think about it: plans that may have begun to be executed in 2007 won’t deliver results for at least four years, maybe even five.

Managing supply and demand in the travel industry is, to say the least, a tricky business. Traveler purse strings are starting to ease, making life much rosier for airline and hotel company income statements. Taking advantage of this opportunity, however, is easier in theory than in practice. This year and next, we’ll see how the hotels and air carriers manage the perils of potential.

[photo by disparkys via Flickr]