Chocolate Pillow | How to annoy a receptionist!
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How to annoy a receptionist!

16 Dec How to annoy a receptionist!

Well, it has been a busy few months for me with the starting of a new job and the run up to Christmas but now I have returned with a fairly tongue-in-cheek post aimed at everyone who ever stays in a hotel.

The world of Reception is a strange one; reception staff are often overlooked in the grand scheme of things with the running of a hotel, however they often act as a cornerstone to the whole guest stay – they are generally the first and last point of contact for people staying within the hotel itself and often also act as the first point of call for any issue that a guest has.  Here I give my list of things that people do (on an almost daily basis) that can really irritate that receptionist in front of you:

  • The Booking Letter Thrust: This is when a guest arrives at the hotel reception desk and without saying a word, thrusts their confirmation letter at the receptionist, often with a grunt or distrusting look.  Whilst it is appreciated you may have had to do this at other hotels, the receptionist is quite able to find your booking based on your surname.  Thrusting a confirmation letter just tells the receptionist you have no faith in their ability to do their job and no faith in the booking systems.  Starting off by effectively demonstrating that you do not believe the receptionist is competent, often leaves the arrival process rather deflated!  If we need the confirmation, we will ask for it.
  • The Wrong Date: This happens unbelievably often and receptionists usually get the brunt of the anger from the guest about this.  This is where the guest has booked the wrong date (usually the wrong day, but sometimes the wrong month or even year!)  We will happily work with you to rearrange the booking, but there are limits.  If you booked the Sunday night and arrive on Saturday to be told there are no rooms available, or the rate is higher, don’t be surprised and angry at us.  As the guest, you will have received the confirmation and 90% of the time booked the room yourself online, so blaming us for your error or failure to read the booking confirmation correctly, will do you no favours.  If we refer you back to your travel agent, we will help you contact them, but we did not process your booking and therefore the agent needs to correct it – and no we cannot just change the date as in doing so, we create an admin nightmare because invoices may be rejected, agents allocations for rooms will be incorrect, commissions will invoice on the wrong dates and rates may differ.
  • The Rate Arguer: If you book online, or over the phone, read your confirmation carefully.  Many people simply don’t and then argue the room cost on arrival or departure (after signing the registration card that has the rate clearly printed on it).  Remember that the reception team can usually find copies of booking confirmations or even see the full booking trail including the original rate the room was booked on.  If there was an error, we will correct it, but arguing that you saw it online at £50 and then when you booked it was £100 is a pointless argument – many websites state ‘Rates From….’ which means that is the lowest rate for a booking, not that every room on every night is charged at this rate!  Remember also that the rate advertised is usually for each night and not the whole stay.  Arguing a room rate for a room you booked 3 months ago and subsequently had 3 months to read the confirmation, will achieve very little sympathy.
  • The Loyalty Card Thrust: Similar to the situation above, this is when a guest arrives and half way through the check-in, randomly thrusts their loyalty card at the receptionist – usually in ether a manner that half-hides the card making it seem as though loyalty cards are a secret society that no-one else can join, or in a manner that ensures the only thing within the field of vision of that receptionist is the loyalty card.  Most of the time, your loyalty membership is attached to the booking, but any receptionist worth half their pay grade would actually ask the question on check-in on whether you held a loyalty card or not.  The loyalty card thrust also tends to make you seem as though you are extremely self-important and can come across as forceful and demanding.
  • The Complaint on Departure: This is where a guest stays in the hotel and has several issues, reporting none of them at all during their stay, instead arriving at check-out with a forensic dossier of everything that has gone wrong.  It is one of the most frustrating things for a receptionist as at this point of the stay, there is nothing that we can do for you except offer apologies.  9 times out of ten, people who do this are after a refund or money off and this is not the correct way to approach this; correcting transactions on departure and issuing refunds on the spot are actually very process-heavy in most hotels and require management sign off.  So if you do partake in this method of complaining please do not be surprised and aggressive when you are referred to a manager or other department for resolution of the issues; many hotels do not fully empower receptionists with the authority to write off a stay and in many cases a full investigation will have to be completed first.  One common example of this is noise from neighbouring guests or issues with cleanliness in the room – if you report this to reception, we will get it sorted in a flash, but leaving it until departure to raise your voice about it leaves the receptionist no real opportunity to resolve it.  In summary, if you have a problem, tell us straight away – do not leave it for 3 days and then demand a refund when you check-out.
  • The Expectation: Sometimes people have larger than life ideas of what to expect in hotels, this is often the case with high-end hotels who can, at any time, have a guest who believes their grandiosity is far superior to any other guest in the hotel.  Every receptionist I know can think of a time where guests have not just had high expectations, but have been over-demanding to the point of exasperation.  By this I mean the guest who arrives and expects an upgrade without paying for it, or the guest who expects the receptionist to come upstairs and carry their bag down for them when there is a queue of 50 people waiting to check out.  We will do all we can to assist, but everyone has a point beyond which they should not be pushed.  I have written posts about managing expectations in hotels, but please be realistic with your request.
  • The Skipper: These are more common in large hotels and are the guests who simply leave without visiting reception to check-out.  Okay, thank you for not taking up 30 seconds of my time to check out, but this 30 seconds ensures that housekeeping are aware you have left (so they can get in to the room to clean it), and also ensures that any bill you may have to settle is properly dealt with.  It is also a huge opportunity for us to get your feedback!  If you have not agreed the Express Checkout service, this can also lead to emails and phone calls from the reception to confirm your bill before debiting your card.
  • The Freebie Demander: This is the guest who tries and often demands to get as much as possible for free.  I give you 100% admiration for trying, but there is a limit so don’t get snarky when the answer is no.  If you ask for a late checkout and I tell you it’s chargeable, then please do not argue the charge on departure when you eventually check out 8 hours late at 7pm – that charge exists to cover the cost of either having the room out of service because it cannot be cleaned, or because a housekeeper has to stay on for extra hours to clean that room later.  The fact is that many receptionists will grant the odd extra hour here and there or even let you in to the room early if it is clean and ready, but there are limits.  Arriving at 7am to check-in and shouting at the receptionist because no rooms are available will not get you in to a bedroom any quicker, particularly if it is already explained that all rooms are occupied by people who haven’t even checked out yet; the fact is that we at the desk hold all the power for getting you in to a room.  If we say check-in is 3pm, it’s for a reason and often there are multiple tricky room allocations to process before everyone arrives which usual means a lot of admin before we can even consider getting you in to a room.

Remember these points next time you check-in to a hotel as they will help you out a lot – remember that a receptionist will often do you a favour if you do one for them!  The above does sound like a rant, but it’s not, its just advice for regular hotel stayers to ensure a much better experience and actually get more out of the reception team – being a ‘bit difficult’ with reception will usually not do you any favours – we are there to help not be berated and shouted at because of matters beyond our control.

Does anyone have anything else to add to this list?  Do you do any of the above?  Comment below to get the discussion going!

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Matt Shiells-Jones
matt@chocolatepillow.com

Husband, Author, Hotel Manager and ambitious 'old cat lady'



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