Sunday, August 19, 2012

People watching

People are amazing, some are astounding. In my job I get to sit and watch a fair cross section of the population and they never cease to amaze me. Weary travelers who just want to get to bed after a long day of flying, business execs on one night stop overs, vacationers getting ready to leave on trips, brides and grooms celebrating their nuptials, twenty something's looking for a party. I see all that and more in the lobby of my hotel. 

Some are polite, some are rude, some see me as beneath their notice because I'm in the service industry. I don't mind, I can only address one guest at a time and I do my best to be polite and helpful no matter the persons demeanor. But no matter the flavour  of person, two things are common, two things these people all share; 1) They don't listen to a word I say 2) They're stund as me arse!

One example, when they check in I, and all the other desk staff, go over the same points with guests.

- There's wireless Internet in the rooms and it has no password.
- The shuttle to the airport is 'on demand' we don't book times, it's less than a five minute round trip, he'll be right back. 
- The free breakfast runs from four until nine in the morning.

Even with this information, the most common calls I take at the desk are asking

- "is the Internet here?"
- "Can I book the shuttle for (time)?"
- "When is breakfast?" 

In the case of breakfast, not only do we tell them, but there are also signs posted with the times in the lobby and in the rooms. People just can't be bothered to listen or read. 

Or the ones that wander in at two in the morning and try to get into the hotel bar and find the lights off and the door locked. 

Me: "They closed at midnight"
Person: "No."
Me: "Yes."
Person: "But I need a drink."
Me: "I'm sorry, they're closed."
Person: "Can you get me a drink?"
Me: "No I can't. The bar is closed, and even if I could get in, it's illegal to sell alcohol after 2 am. I can't help you."
Person: "C'mon."

This always goes the same way.  It's not worth my job or the fine that I'd be slapped with to sell a beer after two in the morning. Besides that I don't have the keys to the bar, nor do I know how the bars systems work. I don't work in there, I work at the front desk. It usually takes five or ten minutes to convince the person that there is no booze around and I'm not about to get them any. Also "C'mon!" is not a convincing argument.

My favourite interaction by far happens when he hotel is full, and that happens a lot more than you might think. Especially in summer when you expect tourists to be about. It goes like this:

Me: "Can I help you?"
Person: "Yes I'd like a room please."
Me: "Do you have a reservation?"
Person: "No I don't."
Me: "I'm sorry, we're full, we don't have anything available."
Person: "You're kidding?"
Me: "I'm sorry but I'm not, we don't have anything available."

Now what I don't say, that I would love to say, is this. 

"I can be a kidder from time to time, but not in this case. Why would I tell you we had no rooms if in fact we did? It's in my best interest to see the hotel do well so that they can continue to make a profit and pay my salary. The best way I can see the hotel do well is to sell rooms as they are available to people who want to stay here. If there's one room left in the hotel, you can bet I'll sell it if someone wants it.  Why would I turn anyone away? The hotel doesn't make money that way and by extension I don't make any money that way. If you knew that you would be traveling, why didn't you call earlier and book a room? Why did you assume that there would be rooms available? You know what happens when you assume don't you? Why must I be kidding as a result of your poor planning?"

I went on a trip back in February, in January I had my flight booked and my hotel booked. I knew in plenty of time that I'd need a hotel so I made sure that I had a booking made well in advance. The majority of people that I've turned away have known long before getting on that plane that they needed a hotel room but just figured that they'd get one on arrival. You might get lucky in fall or winter, but chances are in the summer that you are not going to get a room like that.  

Now I said the majority, not all people, because some are spur of the moment decisions. Maybe they were going to drive somewhere but it's too late at night, maybe they were on a flight that got cancelled, maybe they were out on the town and decided to get a room instead of going home, maybe they were dragging off from downtown and didn't want to take the dragee to their house. Now some of these people I do feel sorry for, the stranded passengers, the late arrivals that are too tired to drive, fine. The others I have no sympathy for and no qualms about letting them know I have no rooms. If you couldn't take him/her home then I'm not suffering he noise complaint calls because you thought we'd have a room available for your tryst.

The last thing that I don't get relates back to the free breakfast. It's there for early travelers and offers a decent spread for being free. Toast, muffins, bagels, eggs, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juices and coffee. Did I mention that it's all free? We tell everyone that it's free and it's there, and yet when we mention or offer it, a lot of people say; "That's ok, I'll get Tim's at the airport." now I don't know about you, but personally, I'll take free coffee and a free bagel any day over paying for it. Hell I'll probably have two or thee coffees and take something with me like a bagel or a muffin and an apple for the trip. Why pay for something somewhere else when it's available where I am for free?

Like I said before, people are amazing. 



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