Today’s post will be dedicated to the people out there that you would expect be better people. Better because of their line of work, sometimes working with some very disadvantaged people in, what I would imagine to be, a very rewarding job. I have had a draft saved for some time and I thought I would use it as I have been reminded of this on a couple of occasions.
Picture the scene. I am working on reception in a previous hotel job, a fairly busy day of check ins. Despite this I am having a pleasant day and the steady flow of arrivals means that I can engage in conversation with most people. As always, 90% of people I engage with are very pleasant and are happy to have a chat about the day we are having. This puts me in a good mood and helps with my performance at work. I like to be in a good mood, I give off this good vibe to guests and they therefore receive great customer service and feed off it. They go out and have a great day, as do I. It is a great cycle of happiness and well-being but not everyone is happy to be in this cycle. Some people want to puncture the tires of this cycle with a dagger of misery and anger.
Take this lady. Lady X as I will call her in this post. Not that I remember her name anyway, I prefer to try and remember the good people out there. Life is too short to have precious brain-space taken by those that aren’t. She came to the desk in a fairly polite manner however with an agenda to get something for free. After carrying out tens of thousands of check ins over the years, I can now see it a mile off.
A little advice from a hoteliers point of view, if you go to a reception desk and think you are alone in asking for that cheeky upgrade or late check out, you are probably the 50th person that day. By all means go for it, but it certainly helps to be nice. Being nice goes a long way!
Lady X didn’t have this approach. She came to the desk and as she was finished telling me her name, she said something along these lines:
‘So I have had a crappy day to be honest. Firstly my flight here was delayed by THREE HOURS, and as I work for a charity with blind people I missed my lecture in the city. A lecture to a room of blind people.
Now I haven’t been to this hotel before and I would love to give great feedback to the charity that has put me up here, and if you could give me an upgrade to a nicer room during my stay considering the day I have had, that would be great.’
What didn’t help this ladies case was the half condescending nature and tone of the delivery. It may read fairly polite, but the tone really changed it. If she was calm, understanding and less expecting in the way she asked, I would have at least tried to see it from her perspective. She has had a bad day, I get that. But we all do, and this doesn’t guarantee an upgrade to a hotel that has not contributed to this bad day at all.
I had to tell her that unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to do so as the delayed flight was out of our hands. She could of course view a room and if she would like to pay for an upgrade, we would action this as we have availability.
‘No, sorry I cannot accept this. Can I speak to your manager please.’
That was truly her response. The classic can I speak to the manager line, upset at the thought of not getting free things.
‘No problem’, I replied. I went to the back office and spoke to my manager, who was as confused and humoured as I was after I briefed him. He came outside to speak to her directly, introduced himself and repeated that we wouldn’t be able to action a free upgrade, but of course upgrade her if she wishes to add it to the bill. Not getting anywhere on the quest for free stuff, she asked for the keys and walked to the elevator.
I couldn’t believe the greed seen here. If we missed her wake up call on check out and she therefore missed her departing flight, of course she would get a complimentary upgrade on a future stay. But having a bad day and blaming us for it? Madness. I should have left work after my shift, found the nearest restaurant and demanded 50% off because of the stress I received at work. I know how that would have went.
Just a couple of hours after this, I had a very similar issue. You know what they say about waiting for a bus and then two come at once. I remember this one just as well as I couldn’t believe how soon after the first one I found myself in a similar situation.
This time, a member of cabin crew for an airline came to the desk after already checking in. We had airline pilots and crew stay with us due to our close proximity to the airport and it was great to have. Again, the majority were really nice. This one was an exception.
Lady Y questioned why she didn’t have the coffee machine in her room like her previous stays. After looking up her previous stays with us, it turns out due to lack of availability we upgraded her to the next room type on every single one of her previous stays, maybe apart from one time. I told her that the room she currently has was the one shes always booked, however every other time it wasn’t available. I was hoping that telling her about her previous complimentary upgrades would make her more grateful than anything, but it didn’t. She again asked for the keys, took them and without another word, huffed and walked towards the elevator.
To me, this kind of attitude is toxic. I don’t know why some people are unable to control their inner greed, but it seems a very hard thing to do. I try to think of the kind of day they have had that would lead to such misery, but I really cannot justify it. If the person has a low mood, fair enough. But to unleash that misery onto someone they have never met before, there is no excuse. And how bad can a day be?
I mean, the first guest worked with blind people. Shouldn’t she be taking this time to reflect on how lucky she is? I imagine working for a charity would help keep me in check and constantly provide an enhanced perspective in life and the things I should be thankful for. Not here. And the member of cabin crew… surely they know what hospitality work is like? She is the very person she probably hates dealing with on the flight.
I remember the day my dad died. As soon as we left the hospital room, we were walking through the corridor and out of the hospital doors when a person was holding up another person. It looked like they were having a stroke or a seizure, I am not sure what it was but my mum, sister and I ran to the nearest room of doctors and nurses and alerted them of the patient in the corridor. They attended to the person and we walked out of the hospital. I am not sure what happened after that.
Seeing my own father take his final breaths was not an excuse to be an asshole. It never was and it never will be. Granted, there were times when I was totally demotivated to speak to anyone and had occasional bursts of anger, but I never had the energy to go out of my way to put that misery onto someone else, nor the desire. I would have also been in no mood whatsoever to ask for an upgrade or free coffee machine on my next hotel stay, and being turned down for these would not have been an issue at all in comparison. This is why I find it very hard to have sympathy for people that don’t realise how good they have it, lucky to be in a job that flies them to five star hotels with occasional delays. What a great life.
But of course, I don’t know what happens behind the scenes. What may cause such negativity. But putting this stress onto other people and using them as some kind of verbal- or worse- physical punching bag is weak. There is no excuse for this.
This has made me realise that although I greatly appreciate free things, I would much prefer to work hard and earn them. It is the same with saving money. I have always been terrible at it and still am, and I would much rather work hard to be able to free myself of a low income and give myself the opportunities to have what I want when I want, instead of sitting around and waiting for luck to come my way. It helps me to try and be creative and keep myself going, trying to better myself and improve wherever I can.
So here is my advice to myself, and maybe you feel the same way. Don’t expect free things, earn those things. If I want to be first class on a flight or receive an upgrade to a nicer hotel room, I don’t want to limit my productivity and use chance as the deciding factor. I would much rather work hard every day so this is a guarantee. It will make me feel much more accomplished in the mean time and I will have developed so much more in the process. It is the same with lottery tickets. I don’t buy them because that gives me an excuse to sit back and hope chance favours me this time. It gives me an excuse to refrain from following my passions and achieving my dreams. And life is too short for us to not take control.
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