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Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What questions do you have about the hotel industry?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (28144points) June 30th, 2016

Dedicated to @ibstubro

Questions about hotels occasionally crop up here on Fluther. There are also some pretty interesting myths floating around in Jelly brains.

Experience: ~30 years working in the industry. It includes several hotels in different markets, and in all depts. ~20 yrs. we’re spent in various depts. in the corporate office. My favorite was as a hotel inspector.

Disclaimer: While I know a little about a fair amount of hotel stuff, I am not an expert on anything.

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46 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Do hotel chains write notes about whether guests are good tippers?

What do hotel staff complain about the most regarding how guests behave and what they ask for?

I stayed in a hotel not too long ago and found out one of the people working the front desk (who was excellent, we stayed there a few months) was only making $8 an hour! I am disgusted by that. He was often left alone to run things, and he had a degree in Hospitality. Is that a typical wage/salary for that job.

Do hotels overbook, and how do they handle when they cannot accommodate someone? Do they pay another hotel for the person to stay there?

ibstubro's avatar

Are hotel curtains designed so that they will never close completely, in order to wake the guests at the crack of dawn?

ibstubro's avatar

Do hotels hire people to pose as guests that check out at 5:55 a.m., after an hour long rousing Roller Derby game in the hallway?

johnpowell's avatar

I know this will vary by place.

But what is the deal with the bedding. I’m going to assume the sheets are changed daily but I can’t imagine the blankets are washed everyday. How often does this stuff go through a wash?

ucme's avatar

If i’m booked into a hotel in Torquay, is it too much to ask to view herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain from my bedroom window?

Mimishu1995's avatar

From someone who has only been to hotels a total of 3 times.

What’s the deal with people who stay in hotels permanently as they show on movies? Are there anyone who choose hotels a residence? If so how do hotel staff deal with them? Please fill me in if I interpret things wrong.

Why are there four pillows on a double bed?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Do hotel chains keep nots on whether guests are good tippers? While most big chains today have a computer system that stores information about guests, nobody bothers to track if they tip or not. The information isn’t important.

What do hotel staff complain about the most regarding how guests behave and what they ask for? Hands down, it is when a guest pitches a fit about not getting the room type they want, even if they booked a different type. For example, the reservation was booked for a smoking room and at check-in they demand a non-smoking room.

*Is that a typical wage/salary for that (front desk clerk) job? The pay at hotels has always been low, even with a degree in hospitality, so yes, depending upon the location.

Do hotels overbook, and how do they handle when they cannot accommodate someone? Do they pay another hotel for the person to stay there? Any savvy hotel will overbook. It’s part of revenue management. The only time a hotel should not is when there is a special event planned in the area.

If a guest shows up with a guaranteed reservation and no available rooms are left, then yes, the guest is placed in another hotel and they pick up the tab by paying the other hotel. The term used is “walking” (the guest). It’s a nightmare for everyone involved. A good desk clerk is trained on how to diffuse the situation as best as possible.

flutherother's avatar

When you check out should you leave your room locked or unlocked?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Hotel window treatments LOL! No, but I know what you mean. There’s the one-off occasion where the drapes don’t fit in the window properly. More commonly, it’s due to the building settling.

Some hotels opt for a one-panel drape. Others are moving to an overlapping feature in the rod design for the two-panel style.

Tip: If the light from the parking lot or the crack of dawn is likely to bother you, pack an eye mask or some clothes pins. Pease do not use safety pins. They cause tiny holes in the blackout portion.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Noise from unruly groups Individual hotel travelers and groups do not mix well in most cases. A savvy hotel sales rep. booking a group will find out about the # of chaperones per group members on the front end (where children are involved). They will also set rules about controlling the noise level and include it in the group contract. Otherwise, it’s just par for the course of a hotel stay.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Bed linen cleaning Based upon guest complaints, hotels are now going to changing the sheets and bath linen based upon a guest’s request during their stay vs. every day. This came about when people were concerned about the excessive use of water. It’s now rare to find a hotel that doesn’t have a card in the room that explains that if the guest doesn’t require the towels to be changed to hang them up; if they want fresh sheets, then to leave the card on the bed and it will only be made up.

Mattress pads, pillow, blankets, and bedspreads are another matter. In most cases, they are only washed as needed, or at least every quarter.

Some mid- and upper scale hotels have done away with the blanket and have gone to using a duvet. The duvet cover is changed with every checkout, even if it looks spotless. This essentially replaces the practice of “triple-sheeting” the bedding. This is when there is a bottom sheet, then a top sheet, then the blanket, then another top sheet. The intent was to prevent a guest from having their skin touch the blanket.

Tip:. If your hotel room has a sofa bed and it will be used, check the bedding sooner rather than later. Guests sometimes fold it back up after use. Most housekeeping staffs have learned the trick in folding the top end of the top sheet into a triangle that sticks out over the end of the folded mattress. Just remove the cushions to check.

If there is a blanket in a plastic bag, then it’s fairly safe to assume that it’s been washed since its last use.

johnpowell's avatar

Wait… Am I reading this right? If I stay for a single night am I sleeping in someones sex-juices?

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

Are those climate control devices (heaters/air conditioners) really just Harley Davidson motorcycle engines? And has anyone ever successfully slept through one turning on in the middle of the night?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@ucme Torquay, England? Wildebeest? LOL! If you mention it to someone on the staff, you might just get your wish.

A good hotel team naturally knows to play with their guests. One hotel manager told me that their hotel had a guest staying there for a couple of months. He was a judge conducting a court hearing. One morning, the judge moaned to the front desk clerks about how petty and annoying the two lawyers were. When he came back at the end of the day, he found his room filled with paper airplanes. The judge called down to the front desk to request some trash can liners so that he could take them into court the next day and throw them at the lawyers when they got out of line.

There are many more of these stories where the staff attempts to make a customer’s day.

YARNLADY's avatar

Drapery Solution My solution is to carry a clothes pin in my luggage. I do it for my husband, since the light doesn’t bother me. If I forget, I prop the extra pillow or luggage against the curtain.

Noise I have found that many hotels put the noisy people on one floor, or in one wing.

cleanliness I have recently seen wipeable TV controls appearing in the room. Very welcome.

ucme's avatar

Sydney Opera House perhaps?
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

The hotel must be Fawlty? ;-}

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Permanent guests Like you, I’m only familiar with them through television. There are some hotels that have a “resident manager” who lives on property, but that is usually on-site and not in the hotel. In this type of situation, the cons overrule the pros. The housing/utilities are “free” but their salary is greatly reduced. The worst part is that they are on call 24/7. Their hours are bad enough as it is.

Long-term guests are another matter. Hotel employees typically adore them. They get to know the guest personally and are willing to do just about anything to make them comfortable and consider their hotel a home away from home.

Why four pillows on a double bed? There are several reasons. One is to exceed guest expectations. You may be surprised how many guests call down to request additional pillows. By placing four in the room vs. two, it saves the guest from calling and an employee from having to dash around to collect and deliver.

Pillows fall under what I call “The Goldilocks Syndrome”. Are you familiar with this children’s tale? When it comes to guests and pillows, they are either too hard or too soft or too flat or too fat or just right. Putting a variety of pillows on the bed allows for the guest to find the one or combination that suits them.

Many guests choose to relax in bed sitting up while watching TV or using a laptop, tablet, etc. It’s more comfortable to lean against the headboard with two pillows than one. If there are two people, then four may be needed.

Four pillows is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Upon checkout, should I leave the door locked or unlocked? If a guest room door does not automatically lock every time anyone exits the room, then that is a major risk control issue. What if the guest forgot to lock the door before going out for the evening and come back to find all of their possessions gone, or worse yet, someone in the room?

Tip:. If you ever find yourself in a hotel where the door doesn’t automatically lock upon closing, check out. If the hotel is still using metal keys vs. an electronic key card, be sure to deadbolt the door when in it. There is a manual process for keeping track of metal keys, and changing out the lock should one go missing, but it isn’t fail proof.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@johnpowell …Am I sleeping in someone else’s sex juices? It’s quite possible. It would be on the mattress pad or blanket or the bedspread, but not on the sheets. It’s an alarming thought, but it’s reality. It also does not endanger your health in any way.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Noisy HVAC units I know exactly what you mean. The level of noise varies by brand/model. Fortunately, as new hotels are built, they are using central HVAC like most people have in their homes.

1. There’s a motor in it, so even the quietest units will still make a noise as they automatically go on and off, based upon the guest’s temperature setting.
2. Studies show that the majority of people sleep poorly when in a strange setting.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@YARNLADY There is no way to control guest noise. Trust me; it’s been tried from every angle.

I haven’t seen wipable TV controls and don’t know what that is. Can you describe them?

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s a TV remote that uses spots instead of buttons, and can be easily wiped clean.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@YARNLADY Got it…thanks! The challenge is that hotels’ remote controls are supplied by whatever cable or satellite system they choose to use.

JLeslie's avatar

Why when I ask for a quiet room is there almost never consideration for road noise? I’ve learned now to ask for a room not facing a high traffic road.

Over and over again they put me in rooms at the end of the hallway. I guess hotels think quiet room means not near the elevator. Well, a room near the end of the hall often hears the road! Especially, a corner/end room that has a window facing in the direction of the road. Staff over and over again swear the room is quiet from road noise when it isn’t. I don’t get it. This is not 100% of the time, but easily 75% of the time the front desk is clueless about noise from the street in the rooms.

dxs's avatar

I’ve worked at a hotel for much less than @Pied_Pfeffer, but having done virtually everything around hotels, I feel qualified to answer. So here are my responses to selected questions:

1. Do hotel chains write notes about whether guests are good tippers?

I don’t work at a chain, but we keep a mental note of the regulars who do and don’t tip. It’s nothing serious, though.

2. Is [$8] a typical wage/salary for [a front desk] job?

When I worked at a local hotel near downtown Tampa, Fl, I got $8.50/hr. The only previous experience I had was working at another hotel, no Hospitality degree (you need a degree now?!)

3. Do hotels overbook, and how do they handle when they cannot accommodate someone? Do they pay another hotel for the person to stay there?

We don’t, but the people next to us on both sides do. More than once have they sent people to us because of overbooking. I know one lady by name who works at the hotel next to ours because she always comes over to us hoping they can accommodate some couple that the manager overbooked. She says they do not intentionally do it. Those are some serious organization problems.

4. Are hotel curtains designed so that they will never close completely, in order to wake the guests at the crack of dawn?

I’ve noticed at our place that the curtains block a lot of light. You only see light seeping in from the edges. Up until a few years ago, in the old wing there used to be those 70s-style canvas curtains that did nothing to block light out. They replaced them with newer ones, that do a better job.

5. But what is the deal with the bedding. I’m going to assume the sheets are changed daily but I can’t imagine the blankets are washed everyday. How often does this stuff go through a wash?

Great question! Our policy is that we wash sheets every time a party checks out, once if it’s rented for a week, once a week if it’s a long stay, or by request. The towels and washcloths get washed every day. The comforters get shaken and sprayed with Lysol, and washed about twice a month. If there’s any sign of dirt or uncleanliness, it gets put in the wash as well. Spare blankets and mattress pads are washed even less frequently. For the record, we’re known as one of the cleanest hotels in the area. The Tampa hotel I worked at washed their comforters even less frequently, and I presume other hotels don’t wash them as much as we do, either.

6. What’s the deal with people who stay in hotels permanently as they show on movies? Are there anyone who choose hotels a residence? If so how do hotel staff deal with them?

The only people who live at our hotel also work there. I used to be one of those people. We’re like family. Actually, one of them is my family. At the place in Tampa I worked at, the whole top floor was rented out by the week, and many people had been there for years. It’s really just like residency, plus maid service. We deliver the mail, some guests we get to know and others keep to themselves, it’s not much to deal with.

7. When you check out should you leave your room locked or unlocked?

Another great question. (They’re all great, though.) We prefer locked just for security. We all have master keys anyway—yes, the clingy metal things, not the plastic cards. One thing we prefer is that you give the key to us or drop it in our mailbox so we know you’ve checked out and can begin cleaning the room. This is especially important if someone is checking in that room the very same day.

8. Why when I ask for a quiet room is there almost never consideration for road noise?

Maybe it’s all they have available. Maybe it’s better than what’s on the other side. If someone at my place asked for a quiet room, I’d put them at the end of the hallway, too. Less borders to other rooms filled with potentially noisy people. It only makes sense. They can’t predict how loud their guests will be, so what other factors can they consider?

JLeslie's avatar

My husband lived in a hotel for 3 months. I was there for a month. There were about 10 other long term guests. Two I know were planned to be there for a year. You get to know everyone who works there. They become like friends.

@dxs It is basically 100% an interstate will have constant traffic. That noise is a sure thing every night all night. Or, a 6 lane road with a stop light right near your window. Every time trucks brake and start up you can’t miss it. Some better hotels have sound proof windows, but most don’t.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@dxs I meant the complete strangers who choose hoels as their home. But anyway, I used to stay in a hotel that was run by a family. They were pretty close yet still stated professional to the quests. At first sight you wouldn’t know they were family. The hotel was a bit of lower quality than most hotels I’d been to though. And the family never lived upstairs where the guests stayed.

@Pied_Pfeffer what is “long-term guest”? Is it another word for a regular or something different?

dxs's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I talked about those people in the second portion of my answer, where I referred to the Tampa hotel.

“At the place in Tampa I worked at, the whole top floor was rented out by the week, and many people had been there for years. It’s really just like residency, plus maid service. We deliver the mail, some guests we get to know and others keep to themselves, it’s not much to deal with.”

Unofficial_Member's avatar

- Can all front officers give bottom price to potential guests? Can guests really bargain the room price on the spot? (A friend of mine that worked in hotel once said that front officers can actually give lower price for room to people they like, others get standard price. He also said that guests can actually bargain for room price but I never have the gut to prove that)

- Can housekeeping crews stole unused hotel toiletries just like guests could?

- If the hotel management suspect that you attempt to bring prostitutes in to your hotel room will they actually prevent you from doing so/informing the authority?

- What are some of the ways/excuses that can be given by guests to upgrade their room to better room/suite?

- Is it really true that some hotel employees can secretly have sex with guests?

- What is the exact volume limit of water that each guest room can use before they’re notified that they’ve overused the water supply set for the room? Is that mean that such guests won’t get to use water anymore before they pay the extra charges? How much is the typical charges?

- Can guests actually sneak in to employee cafetaria to eat for free? Can employees actually sneak food from employee cafetaria in to their bags to eat later?

- How the general manager and assistant/vice manager of the hotel are usually chosen since the hotel only has limited spot for those positions? From what department can one easily climb the corporate ladder?

- Would those who apply for night shift are more likely to get the jobs since not many people can apply to work at night?

SecondHandStoke's avatar

What type diesel engines are hotel air conditioners powered by?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Long-term guests are those that stay for at least a month. It may also depend upon the market. In some areas, a month’s stay is normal. Two of the hotel chains I worked with were all-suite hotels. One just had a small kitchenette area, while the other had a full kitchen. The latter chain targeted long-term customers, like @JLeslie and her husband.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Room price negotiation/discounting Some hotel managers allow this. The reason is that hotel rooms are a pershible product, just like fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. If a night ends and the hotel didn’t reach full occupancy because demand was there, but the pricing was too high, then it might be considered a loss by some.

The downside is that hotel customers hate it, based upon independent research. So do the desk clerks. If a guest negotiates a rate of $50 for their first stay, come back the following week and are quoted $75 and the clerk holds firm, then both of them get grumpy.

Running a hotel is really expensive. It takes years before an owner starts to see a profit. Every hotel manager should know how much it costs to rent a room based on fixed and variable costs of running a hotel.

The company I worked for set standards for not using this practice. What we found is it built guest loyalty for the honesty, consistency, and simplicity in pricing. Guest loyalty is really how a hotel succeeds. 80% of a hotel chain’s business comes from 20% of their customers.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@SecondHandStoke LOL! See the response to @DoNotKnowMuch above.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Guest requests Every hotel faces challenges of meeting the requests of every customer. It’s not that they don’t want to, but there are just a limited # of rooms that meet that request. If they are all still occupied by a new guest’s arrival date, then there is nothing to be done, other than to offer to move them when that type of room becomes available. Most guests don’t take up the offer because they have already settled in.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Honestly, I feel like the majority of the time hotels go out of their way to meet any requests I have. This is not that they weren’t meeting a request, but more that they interpreted it differently than what I was looking for, or have never spent time in the rooms, standing still, in the quiet of the night, and imagined trying to go to sleep.

JLeslie's avatar

I have another Q.

Why does housekeeping ignore your “request” to not change out towels (by leaving them hanging) if you leave a tip. 90% of the time maids change all towels to new ones if I leave a tip. I know they are trying to give their best service, but it isn’t what I wanted really. This is a very minor thing, but I have thought about writing in about it. Maybe some guests would want everything changed in that same situation? I don’t know.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@JLeslie The answer is that the vast majority of hotels do not have an effective training program to set their employees up for success. It’s often a “learn by your mistakes” process. For example, why in the world would a front desk manager put a new employee on answering the switchboard or allow a front desk clerk work the front desk if that new employee hadn’t been given a tour of the hotel? It’s setting that person up for failure.

In every hotel I’ve worked, I’ve insisted that a proper training program be designed. It included a tour, a scavenger hunt of the local area based upon frequent guest questions (like Where is the closest ATM machine? Bring back a receipt.), and staying overnight in the hotel with a checklist on how to adjust the thermostat, which floors had vending machines, etc. We also set up for new front desk employees to spend time working in housekeeping so that they would learn the layout of rooms, as well as clean one should there be an unexpected late checkout on a sold out night. The training is costly, but worth it in the long run.

As for refreshing the towels when you’ve requested that they not be, I’m just as curious about this as you are. From my experience as a hotel guest, it has nothing to do with whether a tip is left or not. The sign is there explaining it, the used towels are hung up, and yet they are replaced. It’s still a mystery.

JLeslie's avatar

^^The training is a great point. When I worked ar department stores we took new employees on a tour of the store. We also gave very specific lessons in transferring calls, and some other things that a lot of people might assume is common knowledge, or that people know just from having lived in the planet 18+ years, but actually no, there are customer service things that often have to be taught, and can be learned.

Regarding the towels, I have definitely found it to be related to tip. If I leave a tip they leave all towels fresh and new, and if I don’t tip they follow what the sign says, just changing out the towels on the floor. I typically tip daily, but not always.

Regarding street noise, even employees and managers who have worked at a hotel for a long time too often have no clue about the street noise. The problem is ambient noise is very different during the day than night, and hearing becomes more acute at night for most people. Probably a leftover from when we lived in the wild and had to be aware of predators while we slept. Anyway, entering a hotel room while you unpack, clean, or talk to another employee or guest, is very different than what you hear at 2 AM when everything else is silent and your eyes are closed. I know this, because I myself have dropped my luggage in my room, not noticed the noise, and then when returning at night realize how load the road is.

Some hotels are more aware, but it’s very few in my experience. Some stuck out in my mind like The Embassy Suites airport in Savannah, and The Thayer at West Point, for being a very good experience for room placement. There are others. Sometimes they will say I have you facing the pool, which should be quiet, with the risk that people might be noisy in the pool. They basically ask if I’m ok with that. Yes! I am only worried about the quiet late at night, while I sleep.

Hotels are mostly for sleeping. I think moderate to upscale hotels should consider road noise during the build. Rooms facing major thoroughfares and at the ends should have better windows. They can use cheaper windows on parts of the hotel facing courtyards and facing other building or empty lots.

It’s really one of my only requests I make. I think I have high floor on my profile, but maybe I should take that off, because it doesn’t bother me really if I don’t get a high floor.

I want to end this post by saying that my experience at hotels is 90% positive. The other 10%, even some of that is very minor and almost never worth complaining about. It’s more like taking note, or a suggestion.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s great to hear that the majority of your hotel stays are positive.

When it comes to window soundproofing quality, it depends upon the standards of the chain. Your recommendation is worthy of consideration. If I recall correctly, you tend to stay with two different brands. It would be worthwhile to write a letter to them offering the suggestion and why.

Consideration of a new hotel’s placement begins long before ground is broken. If you are interested in the process, just let me know.

As for the tipping/towel replacement topic, all I can tell you is that isn’t my experience both as a guest and working with housekeeping teams. I just submitted the question to a website where hotel housekeepers answer questions. I’ll report back if anyone responds.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Thanks! I really think the towel thing has to do with wanting to give the best service. The intention is a good one. That’s how I think if it anyway.

Definitely, some chains use better windows, and I think better construction in general. But, I think the age of the hotel probably matters as well, and I guess the franchisee has some leeway? Would that be right?

I am interested in the process. I have my assumptions, but might be way off. PM me or write it here, whichever you prefer.

I worked at the Boca Raton Resort (a Waldorf Astoria property now) a few months ago operating a sabath elevator for two days. While there I really enjoyed being at such a beautiful property (I hadn’t been there in years) and could really picture myself working there.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jleslie Back to towels first. Two room attendants have responded thus far. One said that he/she leaves the used towels hanging and puts fresh ones on the shelf, regardless if there is a tip or not. The other response didn’t answer the question.

I’ll send you a PM regarding location selection and construction topics.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer This what I have been seeing lately, the hanging towels are left there and new towels are added.. We tip every day.

ibstubro's avatar

This was one of the most informative and least derailed questions I’ve seen on Fluther, @Pied_Pfeffer. I thank you for that, and kudos!!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @ibstubro! It was really fun. Surprisingly, no one asked any questions regarding the shenanigans of guests that the employees witness.

SmartAZ's avatar

Have you ever found a corpse in a mattress? Have you ever found more than one?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Fortunately, I have never had to deal with a dead body. The closest was at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis. A room attendant called down to the front desk and said, “You need to come up to suite xxx and see this.” The suite looked like someone had taken buckets of blood and tossed it all over the place. There was no sign of a body, human or animal.

While working at a hotel in Memphis, the morning manager on duty was called to go up to a guest suite. An elderly couple were staying in it. The husband said, “I think my wife died in her sleep.” The manager checked for a pulse, and sure enough, she was cold and not breathing. The husband asked the manager to take her wedding band off before her body was removed. The manager later confessed, “I think I broke her finger getting that ring off.”

A fellow hotel inspector was working in Texas when she noticed a stain on the side of a boxspring. The mattress was flipped up, and there on the top of the boxspring were a bunch of handprints soaked in a bloody fluid. I’ll see if I can track down the image so you all can guess what the situation might have been.

There is this mysterious death.

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