Home » Hotel tips » Dealing with the front desk

Dealing with the front desk

I thought that I would start off by going through some of the ways to make your dealings with the front desk easier.

Let me first say that I love my job. Every single minute of it. That doesn’t mean that everything is wonderful. Not every interaction is positive and you can’t please everyone all the time. I am not always cheery (although, I try) and I can’t always get you what you need (although, I try most of the time).

Disclaimer… I am not the voice of all front desk clerks, nor do I want to be. I am just speaking from my experience and from talking to others. Our job is to make your life easier. You can help us, help you.

  • To check you into a room, we need to know who you are and how you intend to pay for the hotel. Please have your identification and credit card ready when you get to the front desk. An ID with an address is best. Nothing upsets a long line of people and frustrates the desk clerk than not even being able to start the check in process.
  • I am sorry that your plane was late, your car rental line was long, the taxi long hauled you to the hotel and that you forgot to pack your lucky socks… but that isn’t my fault. I will do my best to empathize with you but being angry at me doesn’t do either of us any good.
  • I know you hate resort and parking fees. Do you know who else hates them? I do. These extra fees are charged by the hotel not the clerk. Anything that could be “hidden” could be reason for someone to be upset and we don’t want that.
  • Speaking of charges. The security deposit. Do I think you are going to wreck the room? Honestly, I don’t know but I hope your don’t but because of that doubt, we need a deposit. Does it have to be on a card and not cash? Probably. Why? What happens if the damage is more $50 cash? We need to find a way to get that money back. This may sound preachy but if you don’t have a couple hundred dollars available on your credit card, you probably shouldn’t be on vacation.
  • The hotel upgrade. Some of you have heard about the $20 trick. You slip a $20 to the clerk and ask if there are any complimentary upgrades. I personally hate this. Now, I don’t hate money but this seems like more of a bribe. Ask for something specific and if I can give it to you, then you can tip me, if you desire. Make your requests reasonable. Want a high floor or a strip view, that is usually a piece of cake most nights. Want a suite for 5 nights, probably not going to happen. A suite for one night is maybe a $40 upgrade, depending on the property. I can probably get away with that. A suite for 5 nights? Management is going to notice that and $20 is not worth that lecture from my boss.
  • Buying wholesale vs. direct. Using Expedia, Hotels.com or other sites can save you some money but we do treat them differently. We make more money from our own bookings and we will make sure you get the rooms you want. It is also easier dealing directly with the hotel for any changes. There is also something called Run of the House when dealing with some of the wholesalers. That means we pick the room for you. Do you need 2 queen beds on a top floor, then book directly with the hotel because you may end up sleeping in the same bed as your brother with a view of the garbage bins.
  • Gratuities… I am a front desk clerk. I don’t expect tips. I do accept tips. What I do really appreciate is a please and thank you. A smile goes a long way with me and if you like my service please fill out the comment card. I would like to get regular raises and being able to show my boss a bunch of positive comments.
  • Finally, if someone else made the reservation, please make sure your name is on the reservation. I can’t check in John Smith if the name on the reservation is Suzie Jones. I also can’t check John Smith in with Suzie Jones’ credit card if Suzie is not at the front desk, as well. It may sound like common sense but I deal with it several times a week.

I plan to do something similar to this for fellow front desk clerks soon. If you have a pet peeve or issue with dealing with the front desk, leave a comment and I will make sure it gets addressed in that blog.




20 thoughts on “Dealing with the front desk

  1. That’s interesting what you say about the $20 trick…I have used it before with success and hadn’t really considered it a bribe or that you (not you personally!) might be offended by it. I suppose the problem is that most people (me included) don’t actually know what they want, we just want something more than we paid for. Sounds greedy and selfish when you actually write it down!!! Next time I’ll try asking first and tipping you after 🙂


  2. Any tips for someone in a wheelchair? First time going since becoming disabled. I have booked a room but not requested anything special. Should I? I really appreciated your candor on your posting. For me, the $20, has always been a tip. I sometimes don’t request anything. NEVER a bribe. It’s just rude.


  3. I enjoy your blog. I follow several blogs and podcasts about Vegas and frequently hear/read stories about the “$20 trick”. In 25 years of traveling to Vegas annually, I’ve been reluctant to try it and you validated my reluctance. I usually ask if upgrades are available and it seems I’ve had the most luck when I’ve arrived earlier in the day. Is there any particular time of day that is better or is it really just dependent upon the facts/circumstances of that given day?


    • Paul, in my experience you can get upgraded in various days and times. It makes it easy when we are overbooked on a room type to upgrade the quality. For floor selection and view, the earlier the better. Neither is a hard and fast rule but seems to work


  4. I like your blog. I love Las Vegas and all it has to offer. I love spending the extra cash for having a large suite all to myself (I travel by myself cause all my friends and family are “too busy with the kids”). In some suites, they’re nice to leave bath robes. Unfortunately I’m bigger than the “one size fits all” bath robes. Do they make larger robes and who do I have to speak with? P.S. I greet the front desk with a huge smile, warm conversation, and $20 just because its the decent thing to do.


    • Thank you, Joshua. Property amenities change based on the place. I can suggest a couple avenues. If you have a host, talk to them. Contact the concierge or the front desk. If they have a larger size they could arrange to have it in your suite before you arrive. I get many requests for special items to be added pre-arrival.


  5. Just found your blog and love reading it !! I was curious about check in times? You had mentioned being sold out late at night. I tend to arrive early before check in and sometimes can. Is there a sweat spot time to get a room and have a chance of an upgrade?
    If you can’t give room upgrades what about other perks like free buffet or something?


    • Every hotel varies and every day varies. It’s hard to say. It also depends on the clerk. Sorry that there is no magic answer.

      Most of the time we are limited to rate reductions, comping a room, upgrading a room or comping a resort or some other fee. We usually keep the food comps for room issues but this can vary as well.

      You have to remember that the hotel is separate from the restaurants and casino. If we comp a meal it is on our books to account for.


  6. My wife and I bring chocolates from a local mom and pop chocolate factory,we remember most everyone’s name and don’t forget the VP. of operations,Always thank your clerk for their time.we give them 20 if they laugh at my jokes..check-in is an experience for us..for all you clerks..job well done..carry on

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for tbis. I personally have nit tried the $20 trick. But I do say please and thank you and smile. I work with the public and it can be trying alot. Thank you again for your input.


  8. Thank you for sharing this information. I’m in Vegas a few times a year from Vancouver, BC and honestly, didn’t think to tip the check in clerk – I will remember that going forward! Manners are just a must and same with being polite – working in customer service can be a thankless job (boy, do I know after 30 years of it).


  9. I really enjoyed your blog. My husband and I live in Vegas and do stay at casinos once in a while to get away. Are upgrades more likely at a smaller resort than a large one? We’ve never been upgraded (or even tried) but we usually stay at places like the Linq but for my husbands 30th birthday next month we are staying at Mandalay Bay for 2 nights and I would love to get upgraded. I have never thought about tipping but I will start doing it now, with or without an upgrade!
    Great article!


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