The following is a guest post by Paul LaBelle, a marketing and corporate communications executive with deep experience in the software industry. A former journalist, Paul lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
This principle particularly applies to business travel, as defined hilariously in a new book called Heads in Beds, a Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and so-called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky.
In his autobiographical and somewhat cathartic treatment of the hotel industry based on his front desk agent experience, Tomsky does to inn-keeping what Anthony Bourdain did to the high-end restaurant business in New York back in 2000.
Like Bourdain, who “wrote what he knew,” he both elevates, at times, and more often excoriates his industry, giving us solid tips for how to make life on the road more predictable and productive, plus a lot more interesting in the process.
You can easily and inexpensively get moved from a lousy room to a cleaner, newer one with a better view simply by tipping the man/woman at the keyboard who holds all the power at check-in. Since so few travelers ever do this, and more often they treat these humans with as much dignity as a self-service airline kiosk, the results are down right miraculous.
A simple “I would greatly appreciate anything you can do to help me during this stay” as you hand them a 20 dollar/Euro bill with your credit card and a genuine smile can spell the difference between a tired cramped room and one renovated last month with all of the latest innovations, plus a decent view.
Use your phone
Another great tip is to use your room phone to call the front desk with any complaints rather than personally taking it out on the front desk agents who really have some very creative and little-known ways of making your stay miserable should they decide to do so. Since they are authorized to adjust bills in the interest of customer service for, say, erroneous mini-bar charges, they stand ready and happy to drop them from your bill, and will always (implies Tomsky) do so if you just look at your bill on the in-room TV and call down for the adjustment, rather than complaining, or God forbid, badgering an agent as you hold up the check-out line.
Never, ever yell
Which leads to the last Ah-Hah! moment in this gem of a book: NEVER YELL AT THE FRONT DESK AGENTS! The retribution these service-providers can bring down on you is positively diabolical. While this seems a customer service axiom, way too many travelers think a louder voice gets results quicker. It doesn’t.
At the heart of his story lies yet another simple truth about business. Proper and well-timed monetary incentives go a long way towards ensuring that employees give their best work possible. And the converse applies equally: mediocre incentives or dis-incentives lead to poor quality, no matter what industry you’re in.