Be a Boy Scout

My kids spent time in the Boy Scouts, we learned how to tie knots and make Pinewood Derby cars, among other things and, of course, memorized their motto “Be Prepared”. I get the feeling that a lot of people that show up in Las Vegas were never Boy Scouts.


 

This is a crazy busy weekend in Vegas and if you can find a room it is going to be expensive.  A quick look at a 3rd party site shows a 2 night stay at Mandalay Bay will cost you $650 per night, the Linq $450 per night. Heck, even a crapfest like the Downtowner motel is going for over $200 a night. Supply and demand is a wonderful thing if you own a hotel.

Of course, no one flies across country or drives several hours without a reservation or at least checking prices, so no problem. Wrong. Very wrong.

Call after call and walk in after walk in looking for rooms for this weekend. It was driving the reservation department and the front desk crazy.  Here is a sample of what we heard.

  • It’s not even the weekend, how can the rates be this high?
  • You can’t really be sold out, it’s Thursday.
  • So what do you want me to do now?
  • Who in their right mind would pay that much? (apparently you, if you want a room)
  • I drove 5 hours to get here and now this
  • I flew all the way across country and now you are saying you are sold out?

Be prepared!


 

Ok, so you didn’t make the mistake of not booking a room. Great, good for you. You get a gold star. You have made it to the front desk and are ready to check into your room. Absolutely wonderful. Just need that identification and credit card.

What do you mean you don’t have that with you? Give me back that gold star!

It happens at least a few times a week but tonight was full of them.

  • The guy that drove from Utah without his identification. Oh, and he realized that he didn’t have it about 15 minutes into the trip but didn’t want to back track because he didn’t want to be late and didn’t think it would matter. I have no idea what he thought he would be late for.
  • The couple that was checking in for 2 days and had 2 debit cards with a total of $58 on them and $32 in cash and was hoping we could just waive the security deposit and resort fee.
  • The guy that lost everything at the casino on the strip before checking in and had no way to pay the balance of the room.
  • the lady that was supposed to show up 2 days ago, never called to cancel or reschedule her dates and then showed up today wanting her room and the rate from Tuesday night.
  • and the guy that had actually checked in yesterday for 4 nights but decided that his losing sports bet was reason enough to throw a beer into the TV in his room and now was being kicked out because he refused to pay for the damages.

 

It may be no big deal not to have a reservation for a restaurant or buying show tickets before you arrive but please people, make sure you have a room and a way to get into the room….

or don’t but remember you probably will be disappointed when you arrive and will definitely end up being immortalized here.

 

 

 

 

WSVHCD?

Did you miss me?

Sometimes you hit a perfect storm of events.

  1. Personal life gets in the way.
  2. there was actually a 10 day span of work where nothing weird happened at all.

 

The 2nd point got me thinking. Is there going to be a time when all the stories will just start repeating themselves? How many people will be unique enough in their drunkeness, complaining, self absorbed ways to keep this going in the long term with 1-2 posts per week?

Originally, I didn’t even think a blog was possible because I didn’t even think I could come up with more than 10-12 stories and then things started to steamroll. It was like I hit the jackpot on weird guests. Now, I am in a drought. I have a few stories that we will get to later this week but I want to know from you, the readership, is there anything else you want here?

We have done some Top 5’s and some reviews. Tackled some questions, which I will continue to do. I have talked more than enough on the $20 trick and resort fee headaches. So what should Vegas Hotel Confidential do (WSVCHD)?

I’m open to suggestion

  • news and opinion pieces
  • more top 5’s
  • more reviews
  • happy just waiting for the next story
  • anything else?

 

 

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.