Hotel Front Desk Agent

Hotel Front Desk Agent

Hotel Front Desk

Los Angeles, CA

Male, 27

For the past two years I've worked the front desk at a boutique luxury beachfront hotel in Southern California. My job can range from simply checking guests in & out to many other duties, including: pretending I work in different departments so that behind-the-scenes chaos is never seen by a guest, shielding guests from stalkers that come looking for them, and picking up used drug paraphernalia from a trashed room. Ask me anything.

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Last Answer on November 24, 2013

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Why do hotels ask how many guests will be staying in the room? What difference does it make to the hotel whether it's 1, 2, or 5? It's still just one room.

Asked by biggz almost 8 years ago

As far as I know we have to for a variety of reasons: 1. Fire code in each locality specifies how many people can occupy a room in a building, this is specified when the building is inspected and brought up to code. 2. Hotel policy - A. To make sure that each occupant is paying their fair share to stay which protects the hotel's bottom line. B. To make sure that the likelihood of a party or other potential disturbance or unsafe event is decreased. Do people get around this policy by just putting "1" on the number of occupants and then bringing in six friends through the back door? Of course! But if they create a disturbance, I have that reservation stating it's only for 1, and our security officer can reference that when he knocks on the door to investigate.

Am I really getting a better room rate when I book on Priceline / Travelocity / Hotels.com? Their rates are almost ALWAYS lower than what the hotel offers directly.

Asked by Bee almost 8 years ago

The easy answer is yes, my property may even be contractually obligated to give the website and in turn you up to 30% lower than my hotel's asking price for the room. That is a great deal, however think of yourself more as a guest of Travelocity, Orbitz, etc than a guest of the hotel once you've gone through one of these. Admitted or not, hotels will treat guests paying the full room rate directly to the hotel with more care than someone who bought their room online. One most important lesson regarding these bulk travel sites is that while you save money in the short run, making changes to or canceling your reservation is an absolute hassle! As a front desk agent I only want to help each guest, but when they decide that the deceptively alluring pictures and description of the property don't match what's actually there once they arrive, I have to nicely but firmly explain that I and my management have zero control over the third party website's content or frequency of communication to my hotel. I and management have made call after call and sent dozens of emails with updated photos and descriptions, but the regional rep from that site neglected to respond or update THEIR site, in turn giving the guest a flawed perception of what's really going on. In short, if you're not too particular, go ahead and book through a third party, but if it's your honeymoon or for your very picky boss, book direct and you'll be able to deal directly with the hotel, which is bound to give you updated, real-time information and preferred service. As cheesy as it may sound, being a rewards program member means something to me. Even though my property doesn't have one, I've been a member of several and it really does give you some extra weight when negotiating an upgrade or any other perk.

Not that I'm complaining, but why are hotels so lenient with cancellation policies (like allowing cancellations the day-of with no penalty)? Don't they lose money with late cancellations?

Asked by Geoff almost 8 years ago

Good question Geoff! I work for a hotel because I want to make people happy, so the last thing I want to do is charge someone a fee if I can avoid it. However, those fees exist because oftentimes when a hotel is close to sold out with few rooms left, let's say it's due to a conference being in town and all hotel rooms are scarce, there are people who will "hold" a room simply to hold it just in case they need it. By the end of the typical hours of check-in, often that person will either cancel at the last minute or not cancel at all (the most frustrating), preventing the hotel from selling that room to someone that really needed it. I've had nice families and others that were stranded due to delayed flights who haven't been able to get a room because someone was just holding a room, expecting they could cancel without a one night's room and tax penalty, and sometimes just forgot to cancel because they were lazy. It's that person who the fee was created for. If a hotel isn't close to sold out, isn't bound to a corporate rule book (ie: small, privately owned property), or the person canceling is part of a regular corporate account, a repeat guest, or just plain nice, then usually a reservationist will exercise some leeway and grant that person a pass.

Has anyone ever committed suicide in one of your hotel's rooms?

Asked by Sullyduzit almost 8 years ago

I've come up with a theory: people generally fall into three categories of guests. 1. Getting room due to happy reason 2. Getting room because of bad reason 3. Getting room because job requires them to. Guest category # 2 is the scary one because for some reason people think it's okay to take out their frustrations on a place that isn't theirs. While I am thankful to say that no suicides or deaths have happened on my watch, there have been people who have passed away, including one suicide by gun, since the hotel was built. I have had close calls like a drug overdose, and I have found rooms so trashed and littered with blood stains (one time we had to throw out the sheets because they were so soaked in blood) that I could swear they WERE suicide attempts that just failed, and the guest was too embarrassed to admit what they did. We did charge all these people for the damages, by the way, and none of them called to complain about the charges, which leads me to believe they didn't want to draw attention to their situation. It's very sad, but from my perspective I just don't want it happening on my watch or affecting other guests who are category # 1 or # 3!

How much of a hotel’s revenue comes from the $9 chocolate bars and other overpriced in-room snacks & minibar?

Asked by lolwut almost 8 years ago

Depending on the financial structure of the hotel and whether or not the food and beverage operation is wholly owned by hotel or a separate entity (say, for instance, just renting the space within the hotel), it could range from $0 income to a decent profit. At my property it's a separate entity from the hotel but a profit-sharing agreement is in place. One problem you will see with "honor bars" or minibars without any direct tracking of items is that guests seem to have very little "honor" when it comes to what was taken and what wasn't. Parents, if you brought your kids on your business trip, PLEASE explain to them why they should NEVER think everything in the room is free. And if they do go nuts on the minibar snacks, don't lie to me and say that the items weren't there in the first place, especially when I've come up to your room prior to checkout and seen the kids eating it or the wrappers are all over the room. For larger corporate hotels, the minibar must retain a profit because business travelers who aren't always footing the entire bill are okay with expensing the costs, and the costs are inflated but necessary considering how many items go missing and unaccounted for. To be honest, if a guest checking out says they didn't eat the item or drink the item, 9 times out of 10 I am going to waive the charge, so that's why they have to be so expensive, to account for all those charge adjustments.

At this point, why don't hotels just make Internet access available to all and just bake the cost into the room pricing? Instead of this "pay an additional $9.95/day" nonsense...

Asked by Kermudge almost 8 years ago

This I am in 100% agreement on with you. Wi-fi is such a necessity to function in this world that it is very frustrating to pay for a hotel room and then have to pay for wi-fi on top of that. However, I see where some of the larger hotels are coming from on this. They often depend on corporate or business travelers for such a large percentage of their income that they know the likelihood of that corporate traveler paying for these fees directly is low, so they can get away with it. At a boutique hotel, I just don't see how it makes sense. It is just another fee that will end up getting waived when the guest is upset about something. My property happens to have free wi-fi, but I would hate to have to disclose to guests they're getting charged for it.

Do you like your job?

Asked by samantha_paul almost 8 years ago

Absolutely. If you like helping people, and you like taking ownership of a problem from start to finish, this is the job for you. Sure, it has its challenges, like strange working hours, confrontations with guests and others that are difficult to resolve, and sometimes having to magically make something out of nothing, but it can be very rewarding when I am able to be a good host and make people feel at home.