A recent 20/20 report ( “True Confessions: Hotel Horrors.” I love their flair for understatement) extolled the virtues of outwitting the hotel service industry by employing a series of “tips” provided by a ten-year veteran of the industry.
Some of these reflect my own philosophy; namely, that tipping hotel staff will ensure they go that extra mile for you. Although, truth be told, a positive attitude can yield the same results – but you didn’t hear that from me!
Getting back on point, there is a fine line between being a shrewd traveler and a devious one, and some of these tips? Well, they erase that line completely…
- MINI-BAR CHARGES: All you have to do is tell the front desk you ‘never touched the minibar’ and they will wipe away the charges.
- IN-ROOM MOVIES: Watch The Dark Knight Rises, call down to the front desk and tell them the movie just froze in the middle or it turned off suddenly, and they’ll delete the charge from your bill.
- HOTEL ROBES: Call up and tell them your room is missing a robe. Then shove the extra robe right in your suitcase.
- SCORING A”FREE” ROOM UPGRADE: Wrap a twenty-dollar bill – or even a fifty – around your credit card when you hand it over to the clerk and you’re golden.
Now it’s my turn.
Where do I begin? To be fair, the expert in this situation has a few things right: Tipping hotel staffers – especially valet and housekeepers – can mean the difference between an unforgettable trip and a nightmare that turns you onto an agoraphobic. If you feel your budget is too tight to allow for “extras” like tipping, then reconsider the wisdom of leaving your house in the first place! Seriously, tipping is a vital part of the hotel experience and if you’re going to sweat the small stuff then your budget needs some tweaking.
Now here’s where I think the 20/20 report veered off the road and into dangerous territory:
- RAIDING THE MINI-BAR – LITERALLY!: Sure, you can lie to the front desk, but deception is a slippery slope and I’m not so sure you should be muddying the moral waters of your life anymore than you have to. If you’re concerned about the price of snacks, then hit the Dollar Store before you leave and stock up on no-name snacks from Korea.
- PIRATING YOUR IN-ROOM MOVIES: I’m not familiar with American tracking systems, but here in Canada we can instantly see whether or not you watched Christian Bale’s last romp in the cape and cowl or if you ran into problems immediately. Most people will only employ this tactic when they want to ensure Batman XXX doesn’t appear on their bill… Either way, I don’t recommend trying to score a free movie. My advice? Watch movies – especially dirty ones – at home, you’re on vacation!
- SWIPING HOTEL ROBES: Do I even have to say anything? You want a robe? Buy a cheap one at Walmart.
- SCORING A “FREE” ROOM UPGRADE: Again, speaking as a Canadian, I can tell you that most hotels have incentive programs that simply require a few minutes of your time at home to enroll and they’ll allow you to score that upgrade without having to imitate an old-time Vegas high roller. And at my hotel you can get that upgrade for the price of your “bribe”. That having been said, it never hurts to tip anyone, so go ahead and make that poor clerk’s day.
To sum up, let’s assume that two million people decided to follow this expert’s advice and you’re one of them. And then this happened:
- You lie, cheat and steal your way across the North American hospitality industry.
- Hotels begin to see a rise in operating expenditures.
- They raise their rates.
- Fewer people take vacations.
- Hotels begin to layoff staff to offset this slump.
- Out of work hotel workers – like your hot cougar neighbor Mona – spend more time at home and less time shopping and sustaining the economy.
- The economy suffers – again.
- You get laid off.
- The pressure builds. You and your spouse begin fighting.
- Your spouse begins an affair with your hot neighbor Mona. In this case, gentle reader, your gender is irrelevant; Mona is an equal-opportunity adulterer…
- Mona steals your spouse, the bills pile up and you end up fellating a shotgun.
- Your children vow bloody vengeance upon 20/20 and their expert. They storm ABC headquarters.
- 20/20 airs a story entitled: “True Confessions: Hotel Horrors Part 2.”
I know you’re laughing, but most of this could actually happen – I’m pretty sure.
As a fifteen-year veteran of the hospitality industry I can honestly say these tips will not benefit anyone – in the long run. If you want to save a few bucks while traveling, educate yourself; use that computer for something other than surfing Facebook, keeping up with the Kardashians and tweeting. Seek out deals. And finally, ask the right questions of the people serving you – bellmen, doormen and the concierge know how to score the best bargains, legally!
Do what you will with this. I intend to revisit this report soon; 20/20′s expert, Jacob Tomsky, also goes after hotel staff in his new book and interviews. He says he supports his former colleagues – and he does, to a point – but he also claims that bellmen smash bags when they’re stiffed and that housekeepers don’t wash glasses with soap and water, they use furniture polish! This may be true in some cases, but I’m concerned about those of us that actually take pride in our work.
CHECK IT OUT!
Benjamin Wallace is a new friend but a true one. Like Vina Kent, - and Jo Bryant before her – he’s come through with helpful tips and contacts where others have brushed me off, in a friendly way, of course. Check his site out. He’s blazing a new trail for dumb, white husbands everywhere…
TIME FOR OTHER BUSINESS..
A shout-out to my blog buddy, Kristen Lamb and her best-selling tome, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Give it a try, folks. You won’t be disappointed…
ONE LAST ITEM OF BUSINESS…
A fellow bellman and artiste/filmmaker extraordinaire, Joseph Mancini, has created a new digital presence to share with the world. Show him some of that awesome devotion you’ve bestowed upon yours truly and check his work out, okay? I appreciate it, folks. Until next time, stay cool…
- 5 Ways Hotel Staffs Get Back at Customers (abcnews.go.com)
- Beware the Haunted Hotel Rooms (horrorspot.wordpress.com)
- Travel Spotlight: How to Score a Hotel Deal in NYC (savings.com)