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

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Guest questions

We get asked many questions at the front desk. Most of them are fairly common questions.

  • Where does Uber pick up?
  • Where is the fitness center?
  • Is there a password for the internet?

We get asked them everyday and the answers are easy. Sometimes we get questions that are either hard to answer, the answer is not well received or understood or we have to ask them to repeat the question.


What time can I get for late check out?

Our late check out is time is noon

Twelve noon?

Yes, Twelve noon (as apposed to eleven noon or one noon).


When is the end of the day?

Um, midnight.

No, not the day day but you know the time the day resets.

(now what I eventually figured out was that he was asking what the gambling day at our casino was, when points reset. Most people don’t realize that the casino and hotel are separate entities.)


Do I have to check out at 11 or can I check out earlier?

No you can check out at anytime before 11.

(could you imagine the scene at the front desk if everyone was forced to check out at the same time.)


I’m arriving late tonight, do you have a restaurant open at midnight?

Yes, we have a 24 hour restaurant on site.

Just in case, we are running late will it still be open later?

Yes it will be.

(unless there is a 25 hour day coming up then it will be closed for an hour)


I need to check out at 4am will someone be here at the desk?

We are open 24 hours a day.

Right, but will someone be here at 4am, I don’t want to have to wait.

Yes.

(he must have been having dinner with the other guy that thinks there are 25 hours in the day.)


 

I had a couple readers send me some questions that may be of interest to others so I figured I would throw them in here.

-Things to do before the check-in? (Player cards? Idk…?)

If you are here on a comp, they may want to see your players card or at least need the number on the card. Outside of that, have your ID, credit card and confirmation number handy. Oh, a few days ahead of schedule (if you haven’t gotten a confirmation e-mail, I would call the hotel to confirm).
-Your take on early/late check-in fees

There are a lot of times, we can’t control early check ins, I am not a fan of fees in general, if you get there and the room is ready, I say check you into the room. As for late check outs, an hour, maybe two is not a huge deal unless we are sold out and are in a rush to get all the rooms clean. Now if you are talking more than a couple hours, we need to charge something, maybe not the full night rent but a portion. You are overstaying your contracted time and we are being put behind schedule because of this.

– Belldesk/Concierge etiquette

Be polite, be prepared with your questions and your luggage and tip please. Most of these jobs are low paying and they rely on tips. Oh and a message from my bell people. Please don’t come in with a bunch of loose walmart or garbage bags that are bulky and can rip open. It is a pain in the ass to move these bags and have them stay on the cart. Invest in some luggage.
-Negotiating resort fees (like, upgrading to another room in exchange of them reduced or something like that)

Don’t negotiate fees at check in, a lot of hotel clerks don’t have the authority to do that. Spend money at the resort, visit a host and then see what they can do about the fees. Why are we going to comp things to you when we don’t know what your spending habits are. Stick to trying to get a room upgrade.
-When a complaint is something to complain about vs something that don’t need to be reported

If you feel it needs to be mentioned, then mention it. Mentioning it is not a complaint. If it isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, then complain. Did the maid forget to give you towels, call us an let us know. If 5 hours later, you still do not have towels, then complain. I can’t tell you what is important to you, only you can tell me that. If I don’t have a room service menu, I don’t care because I don’t do room service but if there is no ice bucket in the room, you need to get me that ice bucket.

-Can you explain why occasionally the same room is assigned to different people?

This is a pretty simple reason for this. Someone at the desk fucked up. Most of the time, Yes, there can be a system glitch but rarely. Is it the fault of the clerk that checked you in? Most of the time not. Three main reasons.

  • A clerk previously checked the person in a room but did not fully check them in and so the room was never taken out of inventory.
  • A clerk checked you into the wrong reservation and then forgot to switch rooms when the error was found or not found.
  • A clerk checked you into one room but accidentally gave you the wrong keys.

They also asked me if I have done this to anyone. Yes, anyone that spends enough time in the business has done this. I was lucky, I was the same clerk that checked both reservations in so I knew of the mistake before I checked the second person into the same room.  There are three very easy ways to get fired from the front desk. Check people into the wrong room, steal from the hotel and undercharge guests. We are very careful not to do these things because we know the consequences.

 

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.

 

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.