Rules are rules

I remember having a conversation with a friend a few years back about her 19 year old son wanting to have beer in the house. The son was hoping that as a person who was a little more progressive than his mother that I might persuade her that beer in the house was ok. He asked me if I thought the drinking age should be lowered. I said that it should. It is kind of silly that you can join the army, buy cigarettes and buy a gun but you can’t drink. I mean you could literally die for your country and not be able to have a beer. Silliness. He smiled and said, see he thinks it would be ok. I responded by telling him that I didn’t agree with him. I said the law was wrong but it was still a law and if his mother wanted to enforce that law it was her right to do so. That leads us to tonight’s conversation.

 


 

Me: Ok, your room and tax have been prepaid, you just have to put a credit card down for the security hold and resort fee.

Guest: I hate resort fees.

Me: So do I.

Guest: I won’t even use any of this stuff.

Me: I usually don’t either.

Guest : I don’t think there should be a resort fee.

Me: Either do I.

Guest: So you are going to take it off my bill?

Me: No.

Guest: but you said…

Me: Yes, I did. I don’t like them either but the hotel does, I work for the hotel, you are staying at the hotel… so you pay the resort fee.

Guest: What if I refuse?

Me: Then I can’t check you in.

Guest: but I have a reservation.

Me: and that reservation says you need to pay the resort fee, right.

Guest: Well, yeah. So… what are my options?

Me: Um, you pay the resort fee and I check you in or you can cancel the reservation.

Guest: and what if I just stand right here and not allow anyone else to check in.

Me: Well, outside of the other clerks checking people in, I would call security.

Guest: So!

Me: Well, they would ask you to leave.

Guest: They would have to have a lot of them to get me out.

Me: I am not sure how this escalated to this but we could also just call the police if you caused an issue for security because at that point you would be trespassing and then you might get to spend the night in a place without a resort fee. I would just pay the resort fee.

Guest: Fine, charge the stupid fee.

Me: Thank you, sir. Here are your keys.

The Hazards of Wholesale

I understand the idea of saving money. I try to save as much as I can. I am a pretty simple guy. Give me a big TV, a laptop and quality internet and I am pretty much a happy guy. There are a few things that I splurge on because quality and satisfaction are important with those things. I don’t buy cheap cigars, I don’t buy my steaks at Walmart and I don’t buy Boone’s Farm when I want a bottle of wine. I want what I want and I am willing to splurge on those things. I recognize the difference.

When you travel to Las Vegas what is important to you? Do you want a specific room in a specific hotel or do you want a cheap deal? If you want the cheap deal, great, go with a wholesaler. They do what they do, they get you a cheaper room. If you want something specific and are willing to spend a little extra money for it, then do it.

I did a small sampling this past week on check-ins from wholesalers this week. The results are by no means a accurate portrayal of what happens every day or week but it is a trend that I see. Also remember that I have no idea if some of these errors are guest error or wholesaler error but it still is significant.

  • 15% of the guests got the wrong type of room booked for them.
  • 25% claim that the wholesaler never told them about the security deposit or they couldn’t find it in the small print.
  • An airline and a travel agent never sent us the actual reservation so the guest showed up without a reservation.
  • 6 guests had their reservations cancelled by the wholesaler because their credit card declined but never contacted the guest to tell them.

Now I realize that means that the majority of times they got it right but no one cares when it goes right. The issue is when it goes wrong. Do you want to be one of those people when it comes to check in?

The wholesaler just wants to sell the room and get their money. That is when their transaction ends. Not yours. If your reservation depends on saving some money on the hotel, by all means, do that but please, follow up on the reservation. Call the hotel and find out about what room you have or if there are any fees at check in. Make sure any additional people that will be on the room are listed on the room. If you get delayed and someone else is staying in the room might get there before you, they can’t check in if they aren’t on the room.

Also remember that we, at the hotel, can’t change a 3rd part reservation. If you find out that the wholesaler has done something wrong, you will need to call them back. I know, it is a pain, why can’t we do it? They have the information on the reservation, if we change something then our records don’t match and getting payments and commissions will get screwed up.

Oh, and if saving money is an issue and you are gambling, guess what can be done on a reservation done through the hotel. We can comp it or we can discount it. We can’t do that with a wholesaler. They have your money, we don’t.

If you are willing to spend the money, book direct with the hotel. If you need to get the discounted rate, book with the wholesaler but do your follow up.

 

Who’s on first?

I was introduced to classic comedy from a series of cassette tapes in my Grandpa’s den. He had a series of tapes that featured Red Buttons, Red Skelton, Sid Caesar, Lilly Tomlin and my favorite comedy routine, “Who’s on First” by Abbott and Costello. If you don’t know the routine please look it up. I will wait for you.

Welcome back, funny right?

I have always thought about doing stand up comedy but I never realized that I was going to be straight man to a drunk lady doing a version of “Who’s on First” at a hotel.


 

(A lady in her mid 20’s walks up to the desk. She is obviously drunk and seems panicked)

Drunk Guest: I really need some help.

Me: Yes ma’am, how can I help.

DG: I don’t know where I am going?

Me: Where are you supposed to be?

DG: My friend told me to meet her at Hotel XYZ.

Me: Ok, well you are at Hotel XYZ.

DG: but I don’t know where to go.

Me: Did your friend tell you what part of the hotel to meet you at?

DG: Yes, she said to come here but she isn’t here.

Me: She told you to come to the front desk?

DG: Yes… no… she said I need to go to the restaurant.

Me: Which restaurant?

DG: The restaurant.

Me: We have different restaurants.

DG: I think it was the (non-identified) restaurant.

Me: Ok. I can show you how to get there. Go this way and then that way and it will be on the left.

DG: Thank you.

(10 minutes later, she is back)

DG: I’m lost.

Me: Was your friend not there?

DG: I asked the girl there where I should go and they sent me here.

Me: What did you tell her?

DG: I told her I was meeting my friend at the front desk.

Me: I thought you told me you were meeting her at the restaurant.

DG: Yes.

Me: Then why did you tell the restaurant you were meeting your friend at the front desk.

DG: She wasn’t there.

Me: did she call you and tell you to meet her here.

DG: Yes, she told me to meet her at Hotel XYZ.

Me: Yes, and then you told me she was at that restaurant.

DG: Yes.

Me: Then why did you come back to the front desk.

DG: I’m confused.

Me: So am I. Did she call you or send a text or e-mail.

DG: She sent me a text.

Me: Have you tried to call her?

DG: There was no answer.

Me: Can I see the text?

DG: Sure, here it is.

Me: Ma’am, it says to meet her by the cage.

DG: Cage? What is that? I thought she said cafe so I figured it was a restaurant.

Me: Let me get a security guard to walk you over to that cashier cage.

DG: Ok, thank you.

(Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know, front desk.)


 

I missed a question on the Q&A so I promised I would cover it here. It is a difficult one because it asks me to stereotype, which I hate doing but I will do my best.

Is there a city, state or country that produces less polite and more polite customers than others?

In general, I really enjoy checking in people from Great Britain and Canada. They just seem really patient and are happy to just be in Las Vegas. I would say that a very minimal percentage are problem guests.

Most foreign guests are great to deal with but sometimes the language barrier is a tough one to deal with. I know some French and Spanish so I try my best.

Midwest, middle aged to seniors are mostly a great experience. They are the ones that give me the most warm fuzzies.

The guests that I have had the most difficulty and it still happens rarely would fall into three groups.

  • Locals who think they should be treated differently because they aren’t tourists. They want discounts, they want special treatment just for the fact that they live here. Don’t like it? Go home.
  • Young guys from California. They are here to gamble, go clubbing and pick up women and they couldn’t care less about listening to what I am saying about security deposits or that they booked a room with one bed for 4 guys. I can guarantee I am getting a callback from the room about what was just charged or the type of room they get.
  • This one is not region specific but definitely has a southern tilt. The (usually) woman who has booked the cheapest room she can find and then complains about how the room is not up to her standard but when asked what she thought she was getting, has no idea what the different room types are. This usually ends up being about getting a food comp or something for free. It rarely has to do with the actual room.

There have been very few guests that I would not want to see again. In the last few months I would say maybe 3-4. In general, most people are either a great check in or at minimum not very memorable. The memorable ones either make me smile or get written about here and the big assholes are usually a faded memory a few days later.

 

Again, thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

Sometimes… I just don’t know.

I always try to come up with some catchy title for my blogs and I thought about this one for a long time. Most of them involved a lot of cursing and finally I realized that sometimes there are no words and there is a time that i just don’t know.


 

What’s the two things that are needed to check in to a hotel? We need to know how you are going to pay and who you are.

The first one, well that is usually a credit or debit card and occasionally cash. This is the one that usually is a sticking point. People are constantly coming in without a card and having an argument about why they can’t pay cash. Most places allow you to pay for everything except the security deposit with cash. I know of some places in Las Vegas that don’t accept cash at all. Make sure you know before you go. Why don’t we accept cash for a security deposit? What if you cause more damage to the room than the cash deposit? We also have to check the room before you check out if you have a cash deposit. It also can cause issues with balancing our banks. It’s just a pain. If you have a bank account, get a debit card.

The second one, the who are you part, would seem to be the easy one and until the other night, it very rarely was the problem.

Me: Welcome to Hotel Vegas, checking in?

Guest: Yes, I made a reservation on 3rdparty.com, my confirmation number is 1assholeIam.

Me: Ok, I will need a credit card and your ID please.

(guest hands me his debit card and his players card)

Me: Sir, I need your identification.

Guest: I gave you my confirmation number and player’s card.

Me: That is not proper identification. I need a passport or driver’s license. Something state issued with a photo.

Guest: I don’t understand why you need that. I have proof that I have a reservation.

Me: I need to confirm who you are and that the confirmation is yours.

Guest: This is ridiculous, fine, here you are.

(at this time, the guest pulls out 6 different player’s cards from various casinos, his health insurance card, his auto insurance card and his social security card (of course none of them has his picture on it)

Me: Sir, none of these identify you with a picture or are state issued.

Guest: The social security card is government issued, that is better than state issued.

Me: There is no picture.

Guest: I have my fishing license.

Me: Did you have to show an identification to get the fishing license?

Guest: Well yeah.

Me: Ok, can I have that identification?

Guest: Dude, I’m just messing with you, here’s my driver’s license. (pulls it out of his back pocket)

Me: Thank you, sir.

(what’s the cardinal rule of checking in? Don’t piss off the clerk who is assigning your room to you. So let’s see, oh, we preassigned him a high floor with a view? Delete, room change, low floor, dumpster below room, air conditioning unit to the left of room. Save.)

Guest: Just having fun you know. Any upgrades available?

Me: Oh no problem, sir. Unfortunately, we do not have any upgrades available for tonight. I am sure you will be happy with the room you have been assigned.

Guest: Ok, cool thanks.


 

I am sure he was ok with the room choice and even if he wasn’t, well, I was just having fun you know.

Q & A Time

Thanks for all the questions. I hope that I haven’t missed any of the questions. Hopefully we can do this every so often.

 

How often do bed bugs happen? Would they have to close down the hotel?

I did not see the video that you mentioned but yes, bed bugs do happen. They have been around for centuries. There has been a resurgence over the last half century probably due to developing a resistance to pesticides and more international travel. I would say that in my experience we see them maybe once every two to three months. We do not close down the hotel. That would be a financial disaster and really not needed. We close off the room and if the rooms around are not rented we will put them out of order. If they are rented we wait until they are vacated. Most times we haven’t had them spread to the next room but to be safe the exterminator will spray all surrounding rooms just in case.

Have you ever snuck up and took a nap in a room?

No and it really never crossed my mind. However, I have known of an employee that did and they were fired. If you ever think you aren’t being watched in a Las Vegas resort, you are. I had security follow me into an employee only area because I wasn’t wearing my ID and the new surveillance guy didn’t recognize me.

Have you ever hooked up with a customer?

No, I am married and committed to her solely. Have I witnessed it? Yes. Have I been approached? Yes. Is it a bad decision? Yes. We have some guidelines and written and unwritten rules depending on the hotel. It can just get real messy. Something that should be avoided.

Have I took home baby shampoo?

I am going to assume that means, have I taken home hotel property?  I have occasionally used hand moisturizer and sometimes a pen or pad make it into my pocket but stealing is against the law and I am not going to risk my job over some trinkets. If you get a bad name in the hotel/casino business it is hard to get another job.

Do I get free rooms?

Depending on the hotel, you may not even be able to stay in the hotel you work in. I have never been able to get free rooms. Best I can usually get is casino rate. Personally, I like where I live. I don’t see the need to stay in a hotel in Las Vegas. I spend the night on the town and make sure I am sober enough to drive home or have a designated driver.

How does the $20 trick really work and is it as successful as it was before?

I have discussed this before and it is really my least favorite question. Please read my blog, “Dealing with the Front Desk”.  In summary, know what you are asking for as an upgrade, tip for service not for expectation, have realistic expectations and if you want something specific just book it.

Am I less likely to be offered upgrade options if I’m staying for a longer period versus a shorter stay?

Depends on the upgrade and what kind of player you are. Strip view, corner room, near elevator, away from the elevator are easy ones and can be accommodated on longer stays. Want a presidential suite for a week… probably not unless you are a diamond player or we are really slow for the week. Easiest way to get an upgrade, book on a busy time for a cheap room for a few days. Hope that room type is overbooked, we have to put you somewhere and usually it will be an upgrade.

Do celebrities really use fake names when they check in or are they using VIP check in to avoid people?

I have checked in celebrities or famous people and they have used their real names but they are NRG (non registered guest), we don’t tell anyone they are there. Most of the time, their manager and our manager or VIP host have an agreement and they pick up the keys from the office and go to the room. I can’t say that I have checked in any A listers but I have interacted with various forms of famous people and haven’t encountered too many that are pains.

Has your property ever oversold like United, if so what happens?

Yes, we oversell as much as we can within reason and depending on what is going on in town. Very rarely will everyone actually show up. Plans change, deposits get declined, a lot of times, comp rooms no show. On the rare occasion that we oversell and everyone shows up, the left over guest will get “walked”. That means we find alternate arrangements with a sister hotel or another hotel of similar or better rating. We do our best not to move a guest to a lower property. We cover their bill and usually give them some sort of bonus like a food comp or some free play. This happens more in other cities because we do our best to control that situation.

Are courteous  guests likely to get upgrades/comps when available or is it only people who spend tons of cash?

If you are dealing with me and want a comp or upgrade you better be courteous and nice or “you ain’t getting shit!” I will put up with stuck up and entitled guests but you aren’t getting the upgrade or anything from me unless management is telling me to do it. Being nice and interacting with me is a great way to get something if I can do something.

Any really big room bills you have seen from the mini bar or room service?

The people that abuse things like that are usually the guests that are getting comped, in my experience. Then again, I haven’t worked at a 5 star place in Las Vegas either. I did see a couple come in for 2 nights and get $400 in food comps and go over by $200 before they even checked out.

How much harder has it gotten to be you since the advent of the “Third-Party” reservation system? I hate all of them and don’t understand why they are even allowed at some of the better hotels.

Ok, the wholesalers… as an assistance to the hotel, itself is a good thing. To the hotel clerk, it is a bit of a pain.

Most hotels use the wholesalers so that they can save money on paying employees to take reservations and it is easier advertising and comparison shopping with other hotels. So it has value. The hotel saves money and the guest saves money. Btw, the dozens of different sites are primarily owned by the same few companies. Go to hotels.com or expedia.com and you are paying the same company.

Where is goes wrong for us and makes things difficult. A lot of times the wholesaler doesn’t openly display the resort fee, security deposit or other extras as well as they should. They just want the money and don’t care about the check in (my opinion). They also don’t always send us the right information which causes delays at check in. Finally, book through a wholesaler and we can’t change that reservation at all. You have a change, call the wholesaler and then they will contact us to change the reservation.

Ever shown up at a hotel andt hey didn’t have your reservation? I bet you booked with a wholesaler. You see, they have to upload it into our system or send some sort of communication to us for our reservation department to add it (depends on the hotel setup).


I enjoyed getting these questions and answering them. I hope I didn’t miss any.

Thanks again for reading. Your support means a lot.

 

 

3…2…1… Rant!

Ok, I know you come here for some sarcasm, some funny stuff and a review or two but sometimes you are going to get a rant. It is just my personality. I get pissed by things just like anyone else and if I don’t spew it out I will probably end up with a permanent tick 🙂 So today you get to read a couple rants.

Credit vs. Debit… there is a difference

Most hotels require a security deposit on either a debit card or a credit card. Sometimes, there is a difference in the amount based on the card and length of stay. The reason for this is that access to funds in case of damage is different based on the card. The debit card is usually charged more because there is more restricted access to funds.

I get this situation a lot. A guest presents a debit card and there isn’t enough money on the card for the deposit. They tell me to run it as a credit card because the card is both a credit and debit card.

No it isn’t.

If your card says debit on it, then it is a debit card. You can only access what is in your account. A credit card has access to a credit line. Please don’t tell me that it will work if I run it as credit. It would only work because the credit hold is lower than the debit deposit.

Now I am going to get real simple here, in case of confusion.

You check into a hotel for 3 nights. Their policy is $100 credit hold or $100 per day deposit on a debit card. You have $200 on your debit card. You don’t have the debit deposit… you do have enough for a credit hold but we can’t run it as a credit because it isn’t a credit card. Yes, if we ran the $100 it would approve but that is because of the $100 amount not that it is also a credit card. A debit card is a debit card, not both.

A little side note. If you book with a wholesaler you have not paid the security deposit or the resort fee. Please don’t argue with me about how you have paid for everything already. They can’t charge you for either because they are only charged if you actually stay at the hotel so that is why you pay at the hotel.

Another side note, when we say it takes 3-10 days for the deposit to go back on your card, we are not holding your money. We release the deposit the day you check out. It goes back to the bank or credit company at that point and they have to release it back to you. That is the delay.


 

I know there is a big divide in whether you should bring kids to Las Vegas.  I see both sides of the argument. Please don’t tell me that kids don’t belong in Las Vegas, there are plenty of things to do with kids. There are also a lot of activities to not do with kids.

I get really bothered by kids being dragged around at 1am when they are tired and cranky. Kids need sleep, let them get some. Also, Fremont at night with g-string/pastie wearing street performers is not a place for a 7 year old.  Now, I love seeing kids look at the lights of the strip and seeing them on top of the Eiffel Tower. That is cool stuff. There is however one place that they definitely don’t belong… the casino.

There are many reasons to come to Las Vegas but if you are bringing kids, it is not a gambling trip. Do not lock your kids up in the hotel room so you can go gamble. It is selfish and not the right thing to do.

I have seen kids come down to the front desk looking for mommy and daddy because they are hungry or miss them. Not cool. I have seen kids standing over by a gift shop within 20 feet of the parents but the parents aren’t paying attention. They are too busy trying to hit a bonus on a slot machine. I have seen those same kids walk away from the store only to be stopped by security and have to find their parents.

If gambling is your goal in Vegas, don’t take the kids. If you bring the kids and can’t avoid the blackjack table or slot machine then you have a bigger problem than you think. You are an addict and a bad parent. Get help!

I always look for the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt but that goes away fast when dealing with parents. Kids in Vegas are not a problem, the parents of those kids are, when they forget that they are parents.

Problems… you vs. me

It was a great little vacation from work and the blog. I am back and recharged with some good stories. I am hoping to post 2-3 times a week. Thanks again for your support and the comments. Early next week I plan to do a Q & A blog so please leave your questions in the comments.


We are into the summer months in Las Vegas. That means large crowds, high temperatures and guests that are irritated and overheated.

As a hotel clerk, you look at the queue and you can see the easy check-ins and the ones that are going to be a journey. I have just finished an easy check-in and I look towards the line and I see the scowl on a woman’s face. She is next and she is storming towards me. I also need to mention that it is Saturday night and we are sold out.

(she gets to me and stares at me)

Me: Good evening, checking in?

Angry Guest: …

Me: I will need to see your identification and credit card, please.

AG: …

Me: Ma’am, your ID and credit card?

AG: I already have a reservation.

Me: Yes. ma’am but I can’t check you in until I know who you are and how you are paying for the reservation.

AG: (throws her driver’s license down) I already paid for it.

Me: Even if you paid through a wholesaler, you will still need to put down a security deposit and resort fee.

AG: What the hell is a security deposit?

Me: It is just in case of room damage.

AG: I already paid that.

Me: Ma’am, you pay that when you arrive, you only paid the room and tax at this point.

AG: (throws her credit card at me) Whatever!

Me: Ok, I see you have a room with one king bed.

AG: I booked 2 queens.

Me: Do you have a confirmation because the wholesaler sent us a reservation for 1 king.

AG: Well that seems like a you problem not a me problem.

Me: Um, so you don’t have a confirmation of 2 queens?

AG: You have the reservation, you made the error, fix it.

Me: but the room that the wholesaler sent is for a king. If you don’t have something that says two queens I need to give you a king because we are sold out of 2 queens.

AG: I am not sure why you are telling me your problems. I don’t care just give me two queens!

Me: We have no queen rooms available. If you definitely need two queens, perhaps you can call the wholesaler and relocate you.

AG: You were the only hotel available so we have to stay here.

Me: Well… that seems like a you problem and not a me problem… (ok, I didn’t say that but I really wanted to.) Well, ma’am, then I guess that you will need the keys to the king room?

AG: … just give me the keys.

Me: Have a good night, ma’am.

(not sure why she even needed two beds because I never saw anyone with her or after she walked to the elevator but it was a moot point since she booked a king in the first place.)