(What? You think I can afford gold on a bellman’s salary?)
“I want you to be nice.. until it’s time to… not be nice.” – The late Patrick Swayze as James Dalton in the 1989 white trash classic flick, Road House”
So, uh, how are we supposed to know when that is, you ask? You won’t… I’ll let you know…You are the guests I am The Hook. All you have to do is watch my back and each others….and take out the trash! Road House.
All right, that went off the rails a little…
Let’s get back on track, shall we? I may not be James Dalton, but I know a thing or two about the hospitality business. That having been clarified, here are a few fragments of the accumulated wisdom of The Hook. Use these tips wisely; I can’t afford a lawyer if things go sideways and you decide to sue me. We’ll start with the “Don’ts”… because, quite honestly, it’s easier to be negative, isn’t it?
Twelve) If the trip will leave you short, you must abort!
I know what you’re thinking: “This guy works in the hospitality industry and he survives (though sometimes barely) on tips, but he’s telling people to stay home? What the frak?”
The truth is, folks – I’m tempted to say “the cold hard truth”, but truth has no temperature and is neither rigid nor flaccid – most people live beyond their means and that’s why the world’s economy is in such a sad state. I’m not a financial expert or adviser – my wife is the reason we’ve been able to make a bellman’s salary stretch farther than Mr. Fantastic on Cialis – but I know a thing or two about the costs, transparent and hidden, of traveling in this day and age. And on that note, its time for a list within a list, folks.
Five Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before You Stop Tweeting Ellen DeGeneres, Crushing on Candy and Surfing Tube8 For Video of That Girl Who Looks Just Like Your Babysitter… and Begin Planning A Trip.
1) Can I afford to pay for this trip in cash? I realize you’ll have to resort to using the dreaded “Double C” to book your hotel and any additional transportation you’ll require such as a flight or rental wheels, but if you’re not in a position to pay that bill in full at the end of the month, think twice before whipping out the Visa. Credit card companies are the easy girl at the party every guy dreams of; she’ll service anybody, anytime, for as long as they desire, but eventually you’ll realize you’ve fallen for a succubus that won’t stop until you’re a dried husk.
2) Is my Batmobile up for this? A vehicle that breaks down three times, when the engine isn’t even on and chugs more than a frat boy may not be the ideal choice to transport you and yours to vacation Heaven/Hell. So get that wreck serviced before leaving your home, folks. And no, fellas, I wasn’t referring to your wife, though I’m sure she could use a good servicing too.
3) I’m sharing costs with another traveler. Are they going to be able to hold up their end? Your brother-in-law may be great for a few laughs at Christmas, but if he hasn’t held a steady job since Clinton was creating “modern art” with Monica Lewinsky as a canvas, you may want to reconsider whether you’re comfortable traveling with the guy.
4) Have I considered the X-Factor? You’ve booked the room, sold an organ to gas up the mini-van/paid for your airline ticket, and covered all your bases. But have you really? You can’t possibly account for how much you’ll eat, drink – the cost of booze can spiral out of control with each drink over your body’s limit – or spend on crappy souvenirs. All of these costs are the X-Factor in your budget, assuming you have a budget that is, and can kill you quicker than a cobra.
5) Is this trip really necessary? If you’re traveling for pleasure rather than business be certain you’ve made the right choice. Ask most travelers why they’re away and they’ll tell you they needed to “decompress” from the pressures of their daily grind. I hate to say this folks, but most of us have no idea what pressure really is.
My grandmother watched her entire life burn to ash during the Second World War, uprooted herself and relocated to another country, worked her fingers to the bone in the laundry of a country club, a job that required her to rise at the crack of dawn and walk several blocks to work – though not uphill in ten feet of snow both ways – and you know what? The woman never took a single vacation.
Eleven) Never Accept anything you’re told at face value.
I’ve seen the identical scenario play out countless times:
After a hectic, stressful, sweaty, eighteen hours (Its a known fact that time passes at a vastly accelerated rate while a person vacations. Ask any non-accredited science type.) in a shiny fiberglass box, you attempt to check in before the advertised check-in time, only to be told there isn’t a single room available.
“You can store your bags at the Bell Desk. Now please fuck off,” is a variation of the standard line. Sort of.
Defeated, you huff your bags back across the lobby to the Bell Desk where you’re met by a bellman whose mood makes yours seem orgasmic by comparison. What you don’t realize, of course, is that said bellman has dealt with dozens of guests in the same boat and by the time you arrive at his desk he’s contemplating the possible consequences of going so postal the world renames the term “Going Bellman”.
You find yourself murdering an entire block of daylight by engaging in various activities that, given your physical condition and state of mind, have been rendered pointless.
Your rage simmers like homemade chili left on a hot stove for days.
The designated hour arrives and you return to the Front Desk, only to find yourself at the back end of a seemingly-endless line comprised of fellow travelers who drank from the same batch of killer Kool-Aid.
You begin to sob like a little girl at a One Direction concert.
Am I suggesting you should never trust a Front Desk Agent? Certainly not. Leave the conspiracy theories to Oliver Stone; no one’s out to get you. However, you need to educate yourself before you arrive. Always be aware of a hotel’s check-in time and policy.
And when you’re in this situation? Just play it cool. Ask the clerk to look again. Slip the clerk a twenty if necessary. There’s always another way, kids.
Ten) Don’t slack off, you slacker!
Do your homework: A) Make the necessary calls and B) Ask the right questions.
1) Call the hotel/resort’s reservation line if you’re booking online or through an agent. You need to speak to someone “on the ground” as they say in the military. The Concierge Desk is also invaluable when attempting to get the 411 on what’s what at your destination. The concierge can be your best friend. For a few dollars these unsung heroes will let you know everything from which floors to avoid staying on to which housekeeper is doing which manager. I kid you not.
Of course if you’re really desperate, just ask to be transferred to the Bell Desk. Bellmen have no filter, no fear of management and we have pics of everybody doing everybody – which are always available for the right price….
2) So what exactly are the right questions? I’m glad you asked…
“What does it take to get a room prior to the posted check-in time? And will it cost me?” This query is worth revisiting. (Just remember, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use your wallet to get what you want when checking in at a hotel.
Sex works too. And if you’re one of those people who claim to have “morals”, you could always use old fashioned charm to accomplish your goals. A positive attitude and a warm smile can be as effective as cold hard cash sometimes.)
Will the hotel be hosting any conferences during my stay? Nothing ruins a stay faster or more effectively than a lobby full of drunken bankers, police officers or teachers. Except for impotence, of course.
Is the hotel under construction? In a perfect world the only jack-hammering would be in your room. Unfortunately the world is far from perfect.
I think it’s time for a break, don’t you? No, we’re not breaking up. (I’ve never broken up with anyone; hard to believe, right?) But I don’t want to overload your brain-box with too much Hook wisdom… so we’ll stop here.
See you in the lobby, kids…