Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chapter 1 - The Check In!

Welcome to my little hotel blog, a small collection of notes to live by if you're venturing out into the world of hotel-staying, which for me, is one of my favorite things. Sorry for the Martha Stewart reference. I've been in the industry for ten years now (May 20 will be my anniversary). I am a master and guru of the night audit and just recently I've stepped up to the glamorous world of the AM and PM shift(s).

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

I believe my first posting will be about the common hotel procedure known to all as the check-in. As easy as it sounds, it can sometimes prove to be difficult, as many people aren't aware of what's behind the actual process of checking in. For one thing, I advise anyone who is making any sort of reservation at any property to take the extra time and ask the person on the other end of the telephone what their specific check-in policies and times are. Some hotels have check-in times of 3 PM (which is commonplace in the industry) while others have a more lenient time of 2 PM. I've seen countless cases of people who have reservations at a particular location who attempt to want to check-in as early as 10 AM.

Let me explain how this actually works. For starters, there is an actual reason behind those posted check-in and check-out times around the front desk area. The reason for hotels checking you in at that time of the afternoon is for one reason only: to allow housekeeping enough time to have rooms cleaned and prepared. That's it. There will be instances where the hotel you are staying at is recovering from a sold-out night, something that isn't uncommon - especially on weekends or periods where there may be a special event or events held in the area. When this particular sell-out night occurs (or if the hotel comes close), the hotel needs to be allowed time to have rooms cleaned, made up, and re-entered into their systems to be given out later on that day.

Housekeeping usually begins their day around the same time common office personnel would: 8 AM. On weekends, that may be 9 AM. With check-in being at 2 or 3 PM, this only gives a handful of employees six hours or so to not only clean rooms that are checking out that day, but clean what are known as "stay overs" (which is pretty much self-explanatory). Sure, people are checking out but remember that people are still staying there, as well. If a particular night you are wanting to stay isn't all that busy, the hotel will extend you the courtesy of allowing you to check in as early as possible. But, let me expand on that last sentence. Please note that this is a "courtesy" - meaning that the hotel does not, in any way shape of form, have to allow you to check in early. Keeping that in mind, if you arrive at your point of rest and the desk kindly informs you that they have nothing available yet to check you into, or, if they go as far as to actually tell you, "we cannot check you in until 2 (or 3) PM", I ask that you do not give the desk a hard time. As I previously stated, there is a reason why they are not allowing you to check in. If the desk personnel go as far as to inform you that they sold out the night before, be assured that you are not being lied to. Trust me, for a property to tell you that they sold every room the night before, they did. It's not one of those excuses or reasons that management throws around lightly.

Another factor that most people don't realize (or are even aware of) is that not everyone who is checking out checks out all at one or at the same time. Some people check out at 9 or 10 AM, some wait until the very last second. Others check out as early as 5AM while others get what's known as a "late check out" (whose rules vary from brand to brand) and do not leave until 12 or 1PM. Take into consideration that housekeeping does have to honor these requests and if a whole floor decides to inform the desk that they are checking out at 1 PM, think about the hard-working housekeepers who not only have to clean all those rooms, but will be pressed for time in doing so.

If you do approach the desk before check-in time and you are asked to wait, please to not get upset nor decide to give the front desk personnel a hard time. This will get you absolutely nowhere. This morning while I was on AM duty, I had a gentleman in full-out biker regalia walk into the hotel at just after noon to check into his room. We'd sold out last night and housekeeping had not been down to report their vacant and clean rooms so I had nothing to give anyone as of yet. When I kindly informed this gentleman that we had sold out the night before and that we didn't have anything to give him at the moment, he proceeded to literally flip out, raise his voice at me, and talk down to me like I was some elementary school child. I did apologize for not having anything ready yet (which technically, I didn't have to) and asked that if he could wait just a few minutes, I could check with housekeeping to see if anything was, in fact, available. That apparently made things worse. Needless to say that he became so upset and dissatisfied with my answer(s) that he cancelled his reservation and stormed out of the hotel lobby - all because he couldn't wait just a few minutes. I didn't say that I was not going to check him in, but I stated that I didn't have anything at moment to check him in to. If I would have had my list of vacant and clean rooms at hand, I can assure you that he would have been accommodated right away. Which, conversely, there were rooms available at the time, but for his lack of patience and couth, mind you, he decided to take his business elsewhere.

The point of the story? Simple. If a hotel has rooms ready by the time you come in, there is a more than certain chance that you will be allowed to enjoy your room earlier than the standard check-in time. Being a jerk to the desk won't help your cause any. Trying to argue with them won't make things better, either. Demanding to talk to a supervisor or manager isn't going to change anything as they will tell you what you've already been told. Believe me when I say that whichever brand you've decided to stay at is more than grateful for your business. But, they have to have the rooms on hand and ready to do such. What's the rush, anyway? Go have some lunch, see a movie, see the sights! By the time you're ready to come back, your room will be ready and waiting for you and thus, your mini getaway will begin on a happy, and more importantly, a relaxing note.

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