Superstitious feelings

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

 

I thought we would leave the front desk for this blog and venture into the casino. The front desk may be a great window to people watch in Las Vegas but some of the real interesting stuff happens in the casino.

I spend most of my lunch/dinner break walking around in the casino or sitting on a bench people watching. I find human behavior fascinating and some times it is weird… and sometimes there isn’t just a single word to describe it.

  • There is a guy that comes in every Thursday and plays the same machine every week. He plays $3 a spin and never sits at the machine, he dances and sings while playing it. He goes through his $100 bill and then curses and yells at the machine and storms off. I call him the Disco Inferno.

 

  • Another semi-regular is an older man I refer to as Thor. He doesn’t have long blonde hair or big muscles but you can hear him hammer the buttons on the video poker machines from 30 feet away. He has actually put a few out of commission.

 

  • We have a lady that comes in twice a month with a wad of cash. She plays blackjack. If she doubles her money she leaves or plays until she is broke. When she loses the casino usually comps her a few days, which is a good thing because she is gambling to pay for her utility bills. I have tried to explain to her that if she called the electric company and get on a payment plan they probably wouldn’t cut her power off. Of course, her response is that she would still owe half but this way she has a chance to pay the whole thing off. I guess the risk is worth the reward for her.

 

  • I have seen ladies shaking things troll dolls, bells, family pictures at the machine, but until last week I had never seen a person praying and rubbing rosary beads. Maybe God wasn’t in the sportsbook that day.

 

  • Then we have the people that eat at the machines. Eating buffalo wings while hitting those buttons and licking their fingers. I don’t even want to think of the science experiment that is happening in their mouth.

 

  • Then we have the girl that kisses the screen on every big win. I have heard of a one armed bandit and the kissing bandit but never kissing the one armed bandit. Just yuck!

 

  • One of the more annoying things is the player that ties up three machines. Purse on one chair, some other thing like a suitcase or take out bag on the other chair and they are in the middle with money in all three machines but only playing one at the time.

 

So what weird or interesting things have you seen or experienced? What superstitions do you have while gambling? I promise not to laugh… out loud.

Thanks for following the blog and my Twitter (@VegasHC). I was never a popular kid in school but you make this guy feel like a prom queen 🙂

 

3 Questions and a Little Story

 

So how about so about we finish off those questions.

Are rooms preselected or does the front desk clerk pick them?

Yes. 🙂  Rooms can be preselected by the software depending on the software. If they aren’t, they are usually preassigned by a supervisor. Then again, some places don’t do that at all and leave it to the clerk.

In my hotel, I have the ability to change room numbers at the time of check in and I can take preassigned rooms and give them to someone else. I do have limitations. Certain rooms can’t be moved if someone higher up tells me not to move them. That could be my boss or their boss or a casino host, etc. So, if a clerk tells you they can’t move rooms, they are not lying necessarily. If the hotel is full, there might not be much to do but if the hotel is half empty and you just want a different (not specific) floor? Well then, one of you is an asshole.

Do front desk clerks have a say on champagne or desserts in the room?

That usually falls under the casino host sending those things to the room through food and beverage. I can request those things but I really have no say. A supervisor or front desk manager probably has a little more stroke that a clerk. If I catch a note on the reservation about a birthday or anniversary before the guest checks in, I will usually mention it to someone to see what can be done. I always get approval because I really don’t want to have a bill for champagne handed to me on payday.

What are some of the best holiday events and sights in Las Vegas?

  • The Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson lights up their cactus garden. Very cool.
  • There is ice skating at the Cosmopolitan. I no longer skate but it is very popular.
  • The Nutcracker at the Smith Center for your theater needs.
  • The Bellagio Conservatory is stuffed with wreaths, poinsettia and plenty of holiday cheer.
  • There is Mt Charleston for skiing. Not really holiday related but hey it is snow.
  • I haven’t been but the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village has a type of polar express, Christmas trees and, of course, Santa.
  • The Bellagio Fountains have Christmas carols.
  • Plenty of special Christmas concerts at various venues.

 

I mentioned reasons for getting resort fees comped in the Q&A and it was just a few days ago that I had a guest that pushed and pushed to get rid of his resort fees more than anyone in a long time. He had a plan and he was sticking to it right from the start.

(guest approaches my station and we begin the check in process)

Guest: I was never told of the resort fees on the website.

(I hadn’t even mentioned resort fees so if he is mentioning them, he knows about them)

Me: Sir, they are a mandatory charge. I can’t remove them. They are mentioned at the bottom of your confirmation letter.

Guest: Well, I want a non-smoking room and if anyone has ever smoked in my room, I will know.

Me: Yes sir, I understand. I have you in a non-smoking room.

Guest: Good, because this is bullshit. You are all just money grabbing corporate stooges.

Me: Yes sir. (just keep agreeing with him and get him checked in. It isn’t worth it.) Here are your keys, sir.

(now I have indentified the guy that is going to be my next blog because I am going to hear from him all day long.)

… an hour later the phone rings

Guest: My room smells like shit.

Me: My apologies, sir. I will move you to another floor.

Guest: I don’t want to pack up. I want my resort fees waived.

Me; but you said your room smells of fecal matter?

Guest: Yes

Me: Well then you should be moved sir to get away from the smell. (hey, it doesn’t smell like smoke)

Guest: I will be right down.

(he never came down… and why did it take him 60 minutes to complain about his room being a sewer?)

… later that night

Guest: I have no hot water.

Me: My apologies, sir. I can have an engineer right up there and he can try and fix the issue or I can move you to a different room.

Guest: So you are not going to refund my resort fees?

Me: Sir, our policy is to move the guest to a different room just like I attempted to hours ago. Do you want me to send the engineer.

Guest: nevermind!!

(This guy is determined. He now apparently is staying in a sewer with no hot water. His list of complaints and refusal to move rooms, continued over the next 2 days including, a noise complaint from a vacant room, a slow elevator and a maid knocking on his door at 1pm.)

Now, in all fairness he did end up getting one day of resort fees waived by the manager when the maids did not clean his room, even though he had a do not disturb sign on his door. He, of course, wanted all 5 days removed from his bill.

The stupid thing is that if he hadn’t been so belligerent about the resort fees in the beginning we probably would have comped him a couple resort fees if he had complained about those things and actually moved rooms like these things actually really bothered him.


 

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Twitter: @VegasHC

So you want answers?

Thank you all for all the questions and thanks for liking the blog and following me on Twitter. When my son found out that I had over 800 followers he told me that meant I was a big deal. Well if you made me a big deal in my son’s eyes then all of you are big deals to me. So, without further adieu, here is the third VegasHC Q&A.


I have a question. I always get comps for different types of rooms, normally standard rooms though, and we always pay for some type of suite as that is what we prefer. Is it unreasonable to ask for resort fees to be waived since we are paying for our room?

It is unreasonable? I would say it isn’t unreasonable to ask for resort fees to be waived but it depends on the reason. To ask for your fees to be waived because you are paying for your own room? Isn’t that what you are supposed to do? I am trying to think of an analogy that would work here. If you go to the store and buy groceries and pay for them, should the taxes be waived? You are essentially buying a room for a period of time and part of that purchase is the resort fee. You may not like it. heck, I don’t like it but it is part of the price.

Now, if part of the resort fee entitles you to Wi-Fi or a local newspaper and for a portion of your trip you don’t get those things, I would say that something should be comped. Another situation would be you want your room cleaned and housekeeping doesn’t clean your room, then yes, a reduction in the resort fee could be a solution.


Do hotels still have a concierge? What should I used them for? What should I not use them for? How much should I pay/tip them?

Some hotels have a concierge. Mostly strip hotels and timeshare places have them. I know some off strip places have some sort of service like it but not specifically called a concierge.

You should use them when you have questions about the resort or Las Vegas in general. What restaurant do you recommend for sushi? What is an activity that my grandmother would enjoy? For this service I would say a tip is not needed. Now, maybe their suggestion made your day and they added value to your day. Then maybe you give them a few bucks after you return to show your appreciation… or just thank them for the information. I pride myself in my knowledge of Las Vegas and its abundance of things to do and I am always at the ready to suggest something or answer questions. I think it is part of being a good hotel clerk and Vegas ambassador.

You can also use them to book shows, excursions and make restaurant or travel reservations. For this I would tip them. They are doing something to ease your task list. They also may have an in at a hot club or restaurant and be able to get you a reservation when one isn’t readily available to the general public. That adds value. They deserve a tip. How much? I can’t really answer that. How much did it help you out?  Say you know there are plenty of tickets available for a show tonight but you don’t want to go get the tickets yourself. Well it is a moderate request… probably a moderate tip. Say you were supposed to make reservations for your anniversary dinner and you forgot and they are booked up. He can get you in. So basically, you no longer have your wife plotting your demise. How much is that worth to you? I would basically hand the concierge your car keys and tell him to enjoy.


We leave a tip for the cleaners, however we leave it when we go home. Do they share tips?

As far as I know, they do not share tips so you are tipping the housekeeper that cleaned your room that day. Now, that may be the same person that did your room the whole stay but it may not. If you are going to tip for any service, tip at the time of service.


Are there better groups or conventions or holidays better or worse than others?

Yes, I would rather attend the Adult Video News awards than the dry cleaners convention.

Oh, you mean which is better to deal with or is an easier time for me?

Let’s see… I would rather deal with IHeart and Life is Beautiful than Electric Daisy Carnival. The EDC crowd is strung out, doped up and to be stereotypical, younger and less mature. They tend to be more abusive and verbally nasty. It is much more difficult to explain policy and control a group that is trying to stuff 8 people into a room with one or two beds and smoking in my rooms because they just don’t care.

I would take pretty much any convention over any festival… maybe with the exception of the NASCAR and Rodeo groups. They are cool in my book.

Convention visitors are here for a reason and most of the time, their company is flipping the bill so they don’t care about fees and other miscellaneous stuff. Really easy going. Show them how to get to their room, the nearest bar and where to get a great steak and they are happy.

For holidays… Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter are all breezes. Fourth of July and Labor Day are busy but manageable. The holidays that are tougher are the “holidays”, the ones that aren’t really holidays. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. Not that these aren’t celebrations but they aren’t the federal or religious type holidays. They are party holidays and drinking holidays and drunk people equal problems for hotel staff.

March Madness, the Superbowl and other sporting events are crazy busy but most people are checked in well before the event and are great guests because they just want a sportsbook, beer and a TV. Those weekends are very comparative to things like CES as far as size and just a little more chaotic. The music festivals are definitely the apex of chaos.

 


What is the best time of day or year to ask for an upgrade and how many room levels is appropriate?

Anytime of day and any time of year. It never hurts to ask. Everything else is really subjective to the hotel and what is actually going on in that hotel. The basic room level in any hotel is probably going to sell out first and be the one room type that will be overbooked for a couple of reasons. Wholesalers tend to sell that type and most hotels allow a wholesaler to oversell that type of room because we can always move you to the next level. We rarely overbook the high end rooms because there is nowhere to go from there.

The overbooking is the easiest way to get an upgrade. We have to upgrade someone because we don’t have enough rooms so why not ask the clerk if they have an upgrade. Be nice, be polite and engage with the clerk. If they give you an upgrade then by all means tip them if you want. I have given a 3 level upgrade before. I had two identical rooms and one suite. I had three guests who had booked the same room type. First guest comes in and plops their shoes on my desk, spills part of their drink and says “Give me something good, would ya?” Yep, no upgrade. Second guest asks me about my day, compliments the speed in which we are working the queue and doesn’t even ask for the upgrade. He got the upgrade. No tip and I didn’t care. Sorry, third guest, you lost out.

Managers are cracking down on free upgrades but if I have to upgrade, I have to upgrade and if I can justify the upgrade, I can upgrade. Be honest, be kind and be reasonable and we will work with you if we can.


Do you have any advice or tips on getting the best rate?

Um, research, I guess. Plan early and find out when the rates are lower. Wholesalers are usually have cheaper rates but you don’t have the flexibility. Booking through the hotel directly allows you to keep checking rates to see if something drops in price. Sign up for player’s cards and get mailers and e-mails for promotions. If your play warrants; get a host.


When checking in at a VIP check in, is tipping expected? What is an average tip?

I don’t know of any worthwhile hotel clerk that expects a tip no matter where they work. It is always appreciated. Again, it is really up to you. This is not like waiting tables where it is an expectation due to wages and well, just because it is. Some clerks make a very respectable living, some don’t but whatever you feel like doing is fine. Don’t obsess over it. The clerk isn’t or shouldn’t be. My goal is to help you not to make tips. A tip is just a bonus that is greatly appreciated but (to me) so is a handshake, high five, fist bump or a hearty “Thanks, dude!”

The biggest tip I have ever received, I believe was $60. I usually am given $10-20. Sometimes it is a few bucks. I have also been given candy, cookies, pie, a half used coupon book, leftover pizza and the eternal blessings of the Dalai Lama, so I got that going for me. There is no standard tip.


What is the biggest change in your job in the last few years?

I asked fellow clerks about this and the consensus seems to be that the type of person has changed. You used to have primarily gamblers and now the millennials are coming and they are more the type to book the type of room they want and not look for the free upgrade. They are not just using the room to crash. This is now a home base for their group or a place to chill between meals and clubs and other activities. They want what they want and they are willing to pay for it.

The other side of that are those gamblers that are stuck in the 80’s and 90’s and despise the resort fees and the cookie cutter resorts and the giant resorts. They want their $5.99 steak dinner back and 3:2 blackjack. There is a distinct trend where the older crowd or less affluent crowd is moving to downtown hotels and “local” places and renting a car to avoid $40 resort fees, “gangs” of club goers, etc.

The other main point is the corporate feel that is taking over more places. We have less flexibility in dealing with upgrades and such. This is not the financial boom. Money is tighter and there are more people to answer to.


Would $20 allow me to ask about the $20 trick?

Absolutely… I have kids about to go to college so send your money to the VegasHC College Fund, Las Vegas, NV and I will see what I can do.


 

Hope you all enjoyed this. I did.  I know I missed a few questions and I will add them to the end of the next blog that will be up later in the week.

Twitter: @VegasHC

No one listened to Noah either

You know that person that thinks they know more than you, even when you are either an expert on the subject or you just have more information on what is going on? I think we all have a person like that in our life. I have a had a few people like that in my life and it can get frustrating.

  • I work with a person that thinks they can give restaurant advice but has told me how much he thinks the buffet at the Cannery is one of the best in town. Please don’t give restaurant advice!
  • I had a friend that used to give me advice on raising kids. He had one daughter and he had his visitation rights taken away. Just no!
  • There are also the plenty of times a fellow poker player would try to tell me that math has nothing to do with poker and the one time I was told that in all his research that poker was 10% skill and 90% luck… it is not.

Now I don’t know everything about running a hotel and I don’t know everything about the issues in the hotel I work in but I bet I know more than the guests I check in. Here are a couple of examples from last few weeks.


 

When I call a guest and tell them there is a situation and we need to move them to a different room, you would think they might listen to me.

When I tell them there is a busted pipe in the room above them you would think that giving them that information would make them listen more.

Their response was, “We just got back from a long day and we are not about to pack up everything because of something in another room, please do not disturb us again”.

They called 30 minutes later when their bathroom flooded. They moved and complained about how some of their stuff was ruined.


 

The guest that asked how long before their flight should they get a taxi to the airport.

I always tell them to leave no later than 2 hours before their flight. They, of course, because they travel all the time, arrived less than an hour before their flight and missed their flight because there was way too many people going through security on Sunday night. Then they wanted me to comp them a room for their inconvenience.


 

Then there are the multitude of guests that expect that you will know more than you can possibly know. I mean, I know I am good at my job but I am not omnipotent.

Guest: Can I get a quiet room?

Me: I can put you on a higher floor, sir.

Guest: but are the people in the rooms around me, quiet?

Me: Yes sir, they are a group of monks that have taken a vow of silence.


 

Guest: I am leaving early tomorrow for the airport. Can you tell me the best route to avoid any accidents?

Me: Yes ma’am, I am having a vision that there will be a 3 car accident at 15 and Flamingo and as well as a stalled tractor-trailer on Sahara. Also, the power ball number is 14 and you will meet a tall stranger at the TSA checkpoint.


 

Guest: I am moving from here to another hotel tonight. Do you think they will waive the resort fee?

Me: Absolutely. In fact, if they don’t tell them that I said they should because you have been a wonderful guest and it is just good karma.


 

Thanks again for reading.

I think it is time for another Q&A, so send your questions to me and I will put something up next week.

 

Twitter: @VegasHC