I love what I do. I love my hotel. I love that our guests are happy. And I love that our company totally gets what it takes to keep guests coming back. It’s a fun job.
But it is exhausting work.
Especially at our hotel. We are located in downtown St. Louis, and when the city is busy, as it is this weekend, people flock to our hotel. We offer a lot of amenities and our customer service is top notch, and therefore, guests WANT to stay with us.
We have almost 400 rooms. That’s a lot of people to check in, get parked, serve food to, and make comfortable. It takes a ton of behind the scenes work to try to meet all the requests of connecting rooms, corner rooms, rollaways, cribs…. before the guests arrive. In the meantime, we’re checking people out of their rooms and meeting the requests of multiple guests staying another night who want fresh towels, toothpaste, their room serviced at a particular time, directions to the nearest mall. We’re calling heating issues and stopped toilets in to maintenance. We’re letting housekeeping know which rooms need an extra hour before checking out, and which rooms are leaving a day early or have decided to stay one more day. We’re answering phone calls from arriving guests who are wondering if they can check in early, and potential guests who are hoping we have rooms available tonight. In between all that, we’re looking at our availability and playing a little gambling game of trying to have a perfect sell, without having to walk someone to another hotel. So we timidly oversell our standard rooms by 2 or 3, and pray that things work out perfectly in the end.
I view it like a dance, and if choreographed well, it can be so much fun.
I thrive on days like this. I feel like I do a great job in these situations and rise to the challenge of keeping everyone happy. (If I do say so myself.) The last couple of days, it has only been me and the new guy up at the desk. The new guy has been there about a month, and has caught on pretty quickly. I like him. He provides great service, and is very attentive to details. But he’s new, so he still has questions which I patiently answer in between my own jobs. The managers spend most of the morning in the busy breakfast area, so I have been taking charge of the front desk. They have been able to manage the hotel, knowing in the back of their minds that the front desk is being taken care of.
Unfortunately, it seems to stay in the back of their minds.
After two very busy days of working my tail off for 8 straight hours, and doing a top notch job, I get a hand-slap five minutes before clocking out today.
My manager calls me back and asks if I remember talking to room 861 about leaving today instead of tomorrow. I look at the reservation for a while trying to think back to 10:00 that morning. Eons ago. While I’m reflecting, he says, “I think you know where I’m going with this.”
My first thought is that I had forgotten to check it out after he told me they were leaving. This would result in a “sleeper room” meaning that we left a room vacant, thinking someone was in it, but in fact we could have cleaned it and sold it.
“No…” he said. “You checked it out, but you didn’t call it in to housekeeping.”
I looked at him quizzically. I have NEVER not called in an early departure room to housekeeping. I go to check the log to make sure I hadn’t done it, and perhaps the mistake was on housekeeping’s part.
But sure enough, I didn’t log it, which probably means I was distracted by another guest right after checking room 861 out. and really did forget to call it in to housekeeping.
I came back to him with my hand out. He playfully gave it a little ‘slap’ and explained to me that it’s important to call those rooms in…. because now it’s almost 3:00 and they are just discovering they still have a room to clean… “It’s important to keep communication between the departments” he explains to me like it’s my first day on the job.
I nod my head, and tell him I’m sorry. I remind him that I usually am pretty good about doing that, but it must have slipped my mind today, with all the busy-ness.
I get WHY he needed to say something to me. Our head housekeeper probably called him out of frustration when she discovered that the room was vacant dirty so late in the day, right when they were trying to get their housekeepers to hurry up and get the rooms cleaned before our check-in time of 3:00. Her stress would totally have been avoided if I had done MY job.
But what upsets me, is the fact that I do so much for the hotel, and I make it a point to be sure all the departments are working together because I know it’s in the best interest of our guests. And I do this for absolutely no pay at all, and with no real breaks throughout the day. They have an absolute model employee in me, and I get my hand slapped for one, measly mistake.
It seems to me that those are the things that stand out in their minds, yet all the things I DO do, go unnoticed.
So my last five minutes of work was just a reminder to me that I am merely a peon. A barely minimum-wage-paid peon. That’s what I carried with me on my long commute home, and why I’m in need of writing therapy tonight.
I’ll feel better in the morning. It’s a good thing too, because I have to be back there by 7am to check all 400 of those rooms out – providing our gambling paid off.
As Salim would say, “You be ah-right, Row-byn. You be ah-right.”