Monday, September 20, 2010


The other night, this guest comes in escorted by one of the local prostitutes we've seen walking the block around our hotel for a few months. He asks for a separate room since he was originally staying with his buds. I slap on what I call my "ho-fee" (upsell the room by $50 if my better judgement tells me you with a ho) and give him the keys. He comes down from his room a few minutes later in his underwear asking us where the nearest ATM is. About 30 minutes after he gets back, the prostitute leaves. That was a quickie!

Another guest comes in with a local prostitute, and comes down (same thing) 10 minutes later asking where an ATM is. He he. These hos must upsell the guys just like I do. This guy was smarter, though. He tells me not to charge anything to his room while he's gone. And guess what? While he was gone, the hooker comes down to purchase some of our menu items and put them on the room. I would have told her the system was down or something, but my colleague told her pretty undiplomatically that "there's a note here saying not to put anything on the room". I wonder if she gave that dude his money's worth after that...

Funny thing is, guys don't ask about my "ho-fee". The prostitute is right there with them and they start acting like they wanna show her that money is not an issue - like he's trying to impress this girl like she's his girlfriend or something. Men with girlfriends and men with hos: They never ask when I upsell. They're just like: "Oh, don't worry, babe. I got that."

Wikipedia's article on night auditors claims that it may contain "original research" with claims that need verification or references. I thought that this research refers to the last item in the article:

"Due to the nighttime shift, the clientele that the night auditor must deal with may be different than that of a typical front desk agent. At some properties, night auditors are known for frequent interactions with prostitutes, who tend to visit hotels at late hours for rendezvous with guests and the graveyard shift staff."

Then, after reading it again, I noticed that this was actually the only part of the article that indeed had a reference. The first part of the book has been scanned and is available online. It's a primer for learning about front desk operations.

Have I dealt with lots of prostitutes during my tenure as a night auditor? At my old hotel we had the problem of prostitutes renting out a room, and getting in multiple male clientele over the night, then smoking in their room and then skipping without paying the bill. The most we could do was black list them. The hotel I'm at now used to be heavy on the prostitutes, and now it's just, well, a so-so prostitute area. Guests come in escorted by "escorts", but no prostitutes rent out rooms here; I guess it's because this hotel is a little more upscale than my former one.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ritz Carlton

Every Ritz Carlton employee has the authority to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. Ya, every single one of them from the GM down to the assistant busboy. I figure Ritz Carlton didn't think that enough people would read their book The New Gold Standard that it would make much difference if they disclosed that little tidbit in their book. Besides, I assume that the kind of old-money clientele that the Ritz attracts wouldn't be out to manipulate staff to go out and buy them a bunch of expensive shit. That would be tacky.

Still, that's a high level of staff empowerment. The idea behind it is to create what Ritz Carlton calls "mystique", and there's no way to micromanage it. Let's say the houseman is cleaning up and sees an empty Diet Dr. Pepper in the bathroom. He could go out and use company money to buy you a new one, put it on ice, and when you get back to your room, your empty bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper has magically reappeared ice-cold and ready to drink. That's the "mystique" that the staff of Ritz Carlton collectively make like a bunch of magic hotel elves.

Surprisingly, this book was a good and inspiring read. The guy who started Ritz Carlton had your typical humble beginnings. When he got  his first job at a hotel, he was a teenage kid and the owner of the hotel was like: Never look the customers in the eye. You will never stay at a grand hotel like this or whatever.

Later on, little Ritz goes to hospitality school and writes an essay entitled "Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen". He was like 15 years old and there he set his grand vision in motion. Today, the staff at Ritz Carlton are known as "the Ladies and Gentlemen" . And it makes sense, I mean the only person who'd know how to serve royalty would be royalty themselves, right? I'm assuming the hourly pay there is pretty fat, but I don't know anyone who works there.

Ritz Carlton is also a cult. They have a "Credo" that all the employees are supposed to know by heart or something, and they carry around a little "Credo Card", which is kind of like the 10 commandments of customer service. They start every morning with a line up and the staff listens to a story of excellent customer service called "wow stories". They probably also sacrifice a small animal and drink its blood.

I enjoyed reading the wow stories in the book: like the time a catering service couldn't make it out to the wedding because of traffic, so the hotel booked a jet to fly the shit over. Wow - that's pimp! Or the front desk agent who let a guest borrow his shoes because he was in a hurry and forgot to bring dress shoes. Wow - that sucks! I hope he got his shoes back, or bought himself a new $2,000 pair.

All in all, this book made me like Ritz Carlton hotels, and I'd like to work there. I wouldn't stay there as a guest, though, unless I were a rock-star or something and just got wasted and partied all week; that would work.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Conversation with GOD

A friend of mine has started a self-improvement movement called PWNing life. His challenge really requires an entirely new blog, but I figure I can put something here in my career blog, too. So, one of the first things he did was put out a question: What would you do if God floated into your room and...

GOD: Hey, Elliot. No matter what you do, you'll be successful.
ME: Yeah, but...
GOD: Dude! I'm GOD. I got you.
ME: OK, well, I'm gonna be GM at a super pimp hotel... in a cool, wild Asian country. And I wanna be a rock-star dancer with mad dancefloor skills. I wanna be like Marlin Brando in Apocalypse Now, except instead of being the scary asshole weirdo in a cave, I wanna be the positive, cool and super pimp at a classy hotel on the beach.
Then I wanna open my own hotel chain based on the Japanese capsule-hotel/jacuzzi/spa model; and the motto is "The American perfection of a Japanese tradition." It's for budget travellers who wanna cheap, super-clean place to crash and experience the sento bath and all the different herbal pools with a view of the city they're in (the herbal sento is always on the top floor with a view).
GOD: Got it. Keep moving toward this goal, and I'll send you cues. When I give you a cue, ACT. Oh, and ignore the bullshit. There's lots of bullshit. Just ignore it.
ME: You mean like that bullshit? What bullshit? Huh?
GOD: Exactly. You're on the right track.
ME: I wanna play the congas, too. And I want a black-belt in BJJ. And I want a super social life with lots of cool interesting people who are artists, thinkers and shakers and linchpins. And a crazy mad hot sex life with girls that blow my mind.
GOD: Is that all?
ME: ... a million dollars.
GOD: That's it?
ME: a billion dollars - I mean a billion purchasing-power dollars. Geary-Khamis dollars. I  mean, just really fucking wealthy.
GOD: Of course.
ME: GM pimp, hotel owner, dancer, martial-artist, mad socialite, conguero, gazillionaire.
GOD: That's all good. For now I want you to remember: Baby steps. You take baby steps and keep focused on your goals. With each step, I'll reciprocate with cues and clues that will replenish you, inspire you, and show you where to take the next step. You gotta keep moving. Tell me what door to open, and I'll open it, but I can't drag you through the door. All I can do is float around with my head on a cloud. See?
ME: Oh, shit, I forgot. The most important thing is I wanna have lots of fun. Every day. Fulfilling fun.
GOD: So, that will be all of the above goals plus a per-diem of fulfilling fun, is that correct?
ME: Ya.
GOD: You got it, kid.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anthony Bourdain Is My Potty-Mouth Enabler

Anthony Bourdain's show had this episode where they went to Brazil and they showed an elephant esophagus and I puked. I've been a fan ever since.
Bourdain's refreshingly cynical writing is a welcome breakfast-of-coffee-and-cigarettes for the soul. He keeps it real while "Selling Out" with chapters like "So You Wanna Be a Chef?" and "Alan Richman Is a Douchebag."

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

It is a wake-up call. We have forgotten the art of cutting an onion. If you know how to fuck, you should know how to make an omelet. Bourdain is looking at the culinary future of America, with the culinary arts replacing rock-&-roll as an outlet for pop-culture expression. Why start a band when it's way cooler to think of a catchy name and logo for a Thai-fusion chili hot-dog stand? That was my idea, but I'll be flattered if you steal it.

While admonishing future generations of cooks on the dos and do-nots of the industry, Anthony Bourdain still reminds us that he wouldn't be where he is if he hadn't fucked up so much himself.

The language is blunt and unapologetic because Anthony Bourdain delivers the straight dope. So if you are offended by strong language, don't buy this book. Chapters are short, sweet and catchy, like pretty much every song the Ramones ever wrote; and easy for busy people to read without feeling stuck in the middle of a chapter.

He's a big influence for the style of my blog; keeping it real rather than tailoring it for future employers: If you wanna say "fuck" or "fucktard" or any other derivation thereof, then fuck it. Anything else wouldn't be real writing.

Recycling Fairy - Toilet Paper Sucks

Apparently, I'm the new Magic Recycling Fairy at our hotel.

Some aspiring environmentally conscious member of the AM or PM crew decided to put all the empty bottles under the sink, where the Magic Recycling Fairy will come and take them away to Never Never Land. You know, where people never never do any actual recycling.

So, since I am the night guy, and I obviously have some time to keep a blog, I guess I can be the magic recycling fairy.

Speaking of which, I have to wonder exactly how environmentally evolved 4- and 5-star hotels have become. I'm currently at a 3-star, and we have very nice bathrooms... with ToIleT pAPErrr

Really, Japan is so far ahead of us. When I was in Japan, and I took a trip, I stayed at capsule-hotels, a hospitality phenomenon which has yet to hit the US (and I will make this happen). These capsule hotels are the cheap, low-end place to stay when you're in a crunch, and even they have bidets.

Bidets are cleaner, and they don't kill trees. Your ass will be absolutely shit-smear free. Whereas back in Uncle Sam Land, we still smear buttholes with ass-wipe; seriously, toilet paper has got to go. Just think of how many Americans are walking around with a halo of shit stain circumferencing their ani. That hot girl you saw on the street? Ya, she's a poopy-butt.

Japan is so far ahead in the game of recycling, thought, that I think all a huge country like America can do is give a depressing self-loathing shrug and think: "Hey, we're still cleaner than China."

And when I was in Shanghai last year, there were no restrooms in the subway; or they were just installing them at a couple of stops - and even those ones were the porta-potty out-house variety; kind of like "Honey Hole" which I see a lot of here in the Seattle.

If you are anywhere in Japan, and you need to take a dump or fizz a wizz, you do not need to worry; walk into any convenience store on any corner (except the red-light district of Osaka where too many drunks puke and piss all over the restrooms, so you can just go out in the alley).

In China? Forget it. A friend of mine saw a woman in the subway stand over to the far side of the platform, lift up her skirt, and pee into the tracks; whatcha gonna do? When you gotta go, you gotta go. And I thought America was better... Now it's me who has to tell random members of the public that they can't use our fancy hotel restroom. It's a real shame: We beat China in the sanitation department, but Japan still kicks our shit-stained ass.

And the toilet paper has to stop at the 3-stars. Any hotel that lacks bidets in every restroom has no right to the 4- or 5-star. Humans will soon look back and see toilet paper in the same way that we now see out-houses and holes in the ground. Toilet paper is uncivilized, primitive and just plain gross.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

PMS set-up at my hotel is DUMB

The hotel I currently work at has been open for only a couple of months. There are a few effed up flaws that get on my nerves.

First of all, the screens we use at the front desk were originally intended to be legible only to the front desk agents. The screens were built into the desk with a slant and a blinding-screen over the screen which supposedly makes the screen show nothing but a silver blur to the guests who are opposite the desk.

And... It doesn't work! The people opposite my screen can see everything!

For a few reasons, this situation sucks de-ox.
For one thing:
If a random stranger comes in and asks if Joe Shmo is in, we look up "Shmo" in the property management system, and the person opposite us can see (if he knows where to look) what room number Joe is in.
For another thing:
How am I supposed to charge walk-ins crazy fees if they can see what the default charge is? It's hard for me to say that a room is $209, when the computer shows $189 (or if you can read backwards and upside-down "681$")

When we first opened, and all we could see was a couple of square holes in the marble front desk, we were told that guests opposite the front-desk agents wouldn't be able to see the screen. But after installation, the only people who are blind to the screen are the front-desk agents to your left and right. Oops!!!

Not to mention our property management system which is full of flaws. WinPM. I thought it would be better than Jaguar, but such is not the case. They're both effed up. But I'll write about that in another post.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One-Liners for Shits & Giggles

So a guest is trying to order from the touch-screen, but he can't figure it out. He comes up to the cash register, and I tell him that I can take the order for him. He looks at me and asks:

"Why are you looking at me like I have two heads?"

My guess is that this guy has issues dealing with people, especially eye-contact. So I shift my glance 45 degrees, and repeat that I would happily take his order for him.

"That's a really strange response," he said. "I'm ordering food somewhere else."

It's really refreshing sometimes to meet someone who is aggressively insecure.

Honestly, how is anyone supposed to respond to something like that? This is really a point at which I could use a collection of one-liners that I've been collecting from people I meet here at the hotel; particularly the security guard and one of the other gallery hosts and part-time night auditor. So, here are some one-liners you can use when you don't know what to say.

[Warning - For shits and giggles only - other uses may result in loss of job and/or alienation from mere acquaintances]

1. "Your mom's a hooker."
2. "Do you know that nobody likes you?"
3. "Only after sex."
4. "Do you cry at night?"
5. "Use your fucking brains." (add frustration to taste)
6. "Them's fightin' words."
7. "Do you think your mom's wild in bed?"
8. "It's always the same with you."
9. "I thought we had already moved past this, [Name]."
10. "So you're that guy." or "So you're one of those."
11. "My therapist says you make withdrawals from my self-esteem account to fill your ego balloon." (add pain and self-pity to taste)
12. "It's the thought that counts."
13. "Are you mad at me, [Name]?" (add apathy to taste)