Front Desk Agents Who Hate Us Because We’re Beautiful (or Our Elite Status Cards Are)

The hardest part of any hotel elite program is ensuring consistent delivery of benefits at the check-in counter. The greatest failure point comes from relying on thousands of front desk agents being well-trained, well-motivated, and even relies on their not having a bad day.

While most airline benefits are computerized, most hotel benefits rely on a person to deliver.

Starwood has removed some of the human element with its Suite Night Upgrades for Platinums who stay 50 or more nights — 10 room nights a year where members can have an upgrade confirmed up to 5 days in advance, this is assigned by computer based on published room inventory, removing much of the discretion from the process.

And Hyatt goes even farther, though the upgrades are requested and confirmed by humans it’s done in advance 4 times a year for their Diamonds (at time of booking even, and for all Diamonds, up to 7 nights per stay — paid rates only, not on award nights the way Starwood offers).

For the hospitality industry it’s somewhat ironic that to deliver the best service experience it’s necessary to remove the human element.

But the significance of this is revealed, I think, by a comment posted on my blog by someone reporting to be a JW Marriott front desk agent.

For someone who works at the front desk of a JW Marriott I can honestly say that I am glad you all are leaving the program because every single person at that front desk would be happy to never see any of you Platinum members ever walk through the doors of their hotel again. Do you think you are in some way special because of how many nights you are punished to stay in hotels because of your careers? Almost all who have posted on here are platinum members, this is no way means that you are special or you truly deserve any of the benefits you receive. In our hotel we sometimes have 40% of our nearly 1000 room hotel full of elite members; Gold, silver, and Platinum. So why should it make any difference whether you receive your suite, or your breakfast, or your gym pass, or your concierge access? If you really want those things so badly, pay for them yourselves like the rest of the working world. I’ve had platinum members curse at me for not offering them free breakfast and all I can think of is how there are starving children in other countries and I’m being yelled at by a man in a thousand dollar suit whinging like a small child because they didn’t get what they wanted.

The Marriott Company offers great hotels with great service, just because we do not lick your shoes when you came in does not mean you have to stop staying at their properties. If you really want someone to take you to the gym and give you all of the free access and privileges then go home to your mothers, I’m sure they’re give you free breakfast and hold your hand and take care of you like you really want.

I’ve only worked in my position for 6 months but I’m actually leaving the company and only for one reason. Platinum Members. So next time you check in to your hotels I want you to really think about how you are not special, that you do not “deserve” anything you are promised as a Platinum member, and that when you yell and complain at the front desk the people who work there only stare at you with hatred and loathing and see you as the egotistical, rude, selfish, and stuck-up people you really are. So thank you for staying as Platinum members, but don’t let it go to your heads and make you feel any more special than you actually aren’t.

Sincerely,
A Pissed off Front Desk Agent.

I haven’t confirmed the identity of the poster, the particulars of the story don’t much matter. They’re reminiscent of Hotel Bablyon or probably even more dramatically Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, a book I discussed in the context of tipping for upgrades.

No doubt there are plenty of people working at hotels that are unhappy with their jobs, or even their lives.

Which is why the best advice for getting the best service, even more than having elite status in a hotel program, is simply to be nice and to connect with the person checking you in on a human level.

Rather than being a ‘DYKWIA’ (don’t you know who I am???), I find that mocking those people. goes a long way. That's especially true when you see someone checking in ahead of you that's being difficult with the front desk agent you're working with. It's the perfect opportunity to sympathize with them. They'll be instantly much more inclined to be helpful to you because of the contrast, and it’s a little way in which they can ‘set the universe right’ by rewarding ‘nice’ and doing so voluntarily after being bullied into it earlier.

A status card is an entree, an excuse for someone to provide above and beyond treatment. But it’s rarely the reason for doing so. Being nice, being friendly, asking pleasantly, and being elite goes a long way.

Because so many benefits are delivered by human beings. Some of whom are having a bad day. And some of whom even think like the person above, writing in my comments.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Ive worked at the front desk for yearsss!!! I love what i do but i dislike to the highest nature when guests becomes irate with me. I work overnight so by the time i get to work and have whats left of vacant rooms, i check platinum guests in who wasnt preblocked and i get the worst attitudes ever. during otc i had a man who was coming towards me like he was about to hit me…his friend had to hold him back. i was alone because there wasnt an overnight manager. i finally told him until he can speak to me the way i spoke to him, he will be ignored. he was yelling at the top of his lungs. i ignored him and continued assisting the guest i was before he interupted us. one lady had her finger to my nose yelling because housekeeping didnt clean her room but her room had a dnd..do not disturb on the door. and during my graveyard shift, there are no housekeepers. i offered her clean blankets until morning and she had her fingernail to my face and i just concentrated on not grabbing it and breaking her finger in three. the security stepped in on both incidents. i was 7mths pregnant so i got emotional and couldnt catch my breath while i tried assisting my next guest. the guest kept telling me to calm down but i told her sorry for the wait, i know its late and shes tired and i will check her in as quickly as i could. i believe my tears came from knowing i couldnt respond the way i wanted to because i have to stay professional no matter how ugly it got. and because i was pregnant. on both situations the manager in the morning compd their night and sent up wine and all type of amenities. i was soooo upset because they were in the wrong and i felt the guest can do and treat the workers any way because they dont want to have bad scores and loose a dollar. i ended up quiting.

  2. one more thing…i was contacted by another manager and they asked me to come back…

    but i treat every guest the same. i dont show favortism on guests who are higher ranked than others,because i treat all my guests as they are high ranked…even first time guests. i dont want a guest who is next in line to see me react to highly and then on their check in, i do a normal check in. if i dont recognize a guests, i still personalize the check in experience…afterall, even platinum guests started off as a first time guests.

  3. I just ran across this and found it VERY humorous! I completely get why the person would post something like this and I would love to add a correction… We hotel employees (for the most part) have absolutely no problem giving Platinum members upgrades IF AVAILABLE, but the issue comes down to guests throwing the “I’m a platinum member you HAVE to accommodate me or I’ll throw a hissy like a man/woman child” While some of you may not have ever done this yourself, you would be shocked how often it happens (every day). I have been in the industry for over 8 years and I also am a General Manager. While I agree this is not the industry for me and I am in school to change careers, I do want to say, please for one moment think about how difficult it is to keep a smile on your face while person after person day after day yells complains gives you attitude and the tries to get you fired because they didn’t get what they weren’t “Promised” but offered if available. Also the hotel sometimes cannot just poop out a room if its not physically available. So yes…if you booked a suite through the hotel and paid for it you are MORE than entitled to be upset if you aren’t given that, but if you booked through a third party or expected it as a courtesy then take it just as that, its a courtesy and not a promise. But as the post says, thanks for staying with us…those of you who aren’t complete A-holes…

  4. Sorry FDCs, but it is all a matter of trust. How much do we trust that the FDC is giving us the straight dope? After Starwood began the Suite Night program it seemed that my suite upgrade percentage was dropping considerably unless I used a Suite Night award which I like to save for resorts or special occasions. For my next stay at the Westin Seattle, before heading downtown from the airport, I checked the hotel website and saw that they were offering standard suites for that night. Upon check in I was not offered a suite. I politely told the clerk that I was puzzled because I saw suites were available on their website. Miraculously a suite was produced. So as the old saying goes…trust but verify.

  5. “What do you mean you dont have a room for me? DYKWIA? You better kick someone out of this f***ing place or you will be looking for a new job!!”
    – I’m sorry sir. This night has been booked for 10 months. (my response to this customer during the cities biggest music festival)

    “I need a 3pm check out time.”
    – I’m sorry sir. We cannot extend check-out today. We have 40 rooms coming in at 1pm for a family reunion and all the suites are booked.
    “Well then I guess I dont have to stay at Marriotts anymore.”
    – I’m very sorry sir.
    “So you really aren’t going to help me? DYKWIA?”
    – Sir, you just asked too late. We have known about this reunion for months and even posted the sign last night that read “No late check outs. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
    “Well I guess I am a Hampton guy now.”

    “Well if I check in at midnight I should pay less.”
    – On the other side of that coin, sir, it wouldn’t be fair to charge our guests who got here at 3pm more money. Our hotel “day rollover” isn’t until 6am… I can offer you a better price then.
    “How about you just doing it right f***ing now? DYKWIA?”
    – Sorry sir. It’s all computer regulated. I have no override.
    “IDGAF!! You are going to do it and you are going to do it now.”
    – No sir. I am not. But if you would like I could check the prices around the area to see if something would better suit your price range.
    “Go f*** yourself.”

    “Why is my bill $620????????????????”
    – Well ma’am. It was $120 for the night. Our housekeepers have evidence that you smoked in the room as well as had a dog in the room. We are not bet friendly and are completely non smoking.
    “Well how is that my fault? DYKWIA? You are going to refund me everything!!!”
    – No ma’am. Your key card holder clearly states that smoking and pets are forbidden as well as the sign at the front entrance, back entrance, 2 side entrances and in the elevators.
    “Well I will just cancel my credit card then and you wont get anything.”
    – Whatever you feel you have to do ma’am but I cannot reverse these charges.

    I could go on for days and days and days with similar scenarios. I have had people tell me they worked for the state and not having rooms available to them is illegal. I have had customers grab our standing signs and throw them over the desk at me. Had one customer literally kick out double doors in and shatter the glass (because he thought the door being locked at 2am for safety was stupid). I’ve had a mother tell her kid to s*** on the floor because the bathroom was full and she wasn’t waiting… to which he did, then she looked at me, smiled and walked away. Had customers who think we are a daycare and dont monitor their kids and get mad when we call the cops on their child because their child was playing ding-dong-ditch and wouldn’t cooperate with us when we told them to stop. Yes I have called the cops 9 times on children. And every single one of them was justified. I have had a woman abandon their kid in our hotel while she drop 5 hours away for a party. Then kept calling us to go check on her child. We called the cops for child abandonment because no one in our hotel is a certified child care specialist and honestly it isn’t our job.

    Being hospitable is one thing. But most people take a hotel as their person slaves when they stay.
    Why am I not carrying your bag? Cause we arent a full service hotel and as the only one here I cannot leave the front desk.
    Why do they not deliver in this town after 11pm? I dont know I dont work for that company.
    You’re liable if something happens to my child. No… we arent… literally not in any way because he would have needed an adult to get into the hotel room… that adult is responsible.

    I had to have a man arrested for jumping our counter and taking all our money from the drawer simply because “they didnt have any free cookies left so they owed me.”

    This is why most FDA, NA and FDC seem under-empathetic and seem to not really care about your problems.

    But it goes further… it’s not that we dont care because we dont want to… it is because more times than not, caring bites us in the ass.

    I have been stolen from, lied to, had my entire hotel trashed, been scammed, hustled… all in my first 2 months… simply off giving people “a break” or the “benefit of the doubt.” 90% of the time it will bite you in the ass.. and when that happens your manager is NOT on your side.

    It’s not that we dont want to care. I personally giver every customer the benefit of the doubt, sadly now with a lingering suspicion. Want an upgrade? Not if the computer doesn’t allow it… tip or not. Want a late check-out? Not if the computer doesn’t allow it… tip or not? Honestly… now… because of people… i dont do anything for a customer if my computer pops up the “Manager over-ride required” message. Do I have a manager over-ride? Yes… because I am NA and the only one on duty. Do I have free reign to use it as I please? No… and I wont do it just to get a customer to calm down… that customer isn’t going to pay my bills while I find a new job… period.

    OH… but… THE BEST PART IS… no one I mentioned in this post was UNDER a Platinum status. The AVERAGE Platinum members do act worse than the average customer without a status. I dont say that because I dont like my job (I enjoy it a lot actually because it’s the best people watching). I say that because it is the truth.

    I treat no one any different. Status or not. I give the gifts are PLATs are allotted and nothing more outside of reason. Same with my Silvers and Golds. You get what you get and nothing else. NO I cannot let you walk away with $50 in food because you feel we owe you… but I can get you a free ride in the back of a squad car if you try. And I have. Because that comes out of my paycheck. That goes against my employee review.

    However, “DYKWIA” is the easiest way for me to make sure you get the bare essentials. Rude to me… I wont be rude back… but suddenly everything “above and beyond” requires a manager override.

  6. We aren’t like that because we want to be. Most of us like our job and we like our customers. I love talking to Mr. S every night when I get on my shift before he goes to bed… and Mr. D every morning when I am about to get off work and he just woke up. Mr. A saved me from being arrested when a customer attacked me and I knocked her out (She was 300+ lbs and I am barely 110… it was a lucky hit after she had struck me twice for not giving her a free room simply because “I cant pay for another.) Ms. E and Ms. C always brighten my day every Friday when they arrive and every Tuesday when they leave for the past 2 years. I would do anything for Mr. Sas and Mr. P. Mr. Sin and Mr. Sun by my dinner every Wednesday just so I will chat with them, but they know I would chat regardless of the food.

    THESE are the PLATs I live for. The ones who actually understand hospitality usually equals your attitude. These customers get overrides anytime they ask and I am more than willing to talk the pizza delivery guy into getting us a bit extra for them.

    The customers who come in in a bad mood, make you repeat yourself 100 times because they arent satisfied with your answer, and blame you for their self-caused issue (not making a reservation on a S/O night, want an upgrade when you just explained to them they were buying the last room, and literally grab $100 worth of food from breakfast to take on their trip) are the ones that usually have bad experiences. YOU ARE IN MY HOUSE… not the other way around. I am an extremely gracious host. But when you act entitled (to something you arent), rude, disrespectful and down right idiotic, you get the bare minimum I am required to give you.

    Hate you because you are too beautiful? Sweetie… I would never hate another human being without a REAL justified reason. Screaming and yelling? Doesnt bother me. Cussing? You cant say something I havent heard. But being disrespectful just to be disrespectful? I got nothing for you.

    For the most part I love PLATs. They know the drill, you dont have to spend a lot of time educating them about hotel procedures (breakfast hours, check out time, ect.. ect..) and they know exactly what they want so they become easier to please.

    Hate you because you are beautiful? I live in Florida. I love latina women. You can’t touch the scale of beauty I have seen walk into this hotel. AND… even if you could… why would I be mad at some great eye-candy on an otherwise boring job? You sound like you are entitled and very pretentious. BUT… you would still get my 100% walking into this hotel… and their aren’t many ways you could stop me from giving it to you. I worked for DirecTV for 2 years… you cant even come close to surpassing my tolerance level. But I hope you have a great day. And if you come to my hotel I KNOW you will have a great stay.

    But you really should consider increasing your personal “Self-awareness” because you are extremely out of touch with your own reality.

    You should read: “The Pantheist World View” by Harold Wood and “Self Awareness: How To Spot And Change Your Own Behaviour and Disempowering Beliefs With A Proven Step-By-Step Formula For Dramatically Improving You Self … Of Your Life” by Allan Twain

    They would seriously improve your life and seemingly self-important, egotistical attitude.

  7. I have been stolen from, lied to, had my entire hotel trashed, been scammed, hustled… all in my first 2 months… simply off giving people “a break” or the “benefit of the doubt.” 90% of the time it will bite you in the ass.. and when that happens your manager is NOT on your side.

    I must say I find much of your story to hard to believe especially the paragraph above. It is all about trust. Does a guest trust that when a FDC says something it is actually true or are they just being lazy or uncooperative or just don’t know their job. There have been several times that I know FDCs were not giving me the straight dope. That causes my blood pressure to rise although I have refrained from the actions you claim to experience routinely.

  8. first off i have not once ran into a “beautiful” elite member especially PLATINUM status in NYC. If anything the front desk agents are better looking. Since they’re husbands cant keep their eyes off us and cant stop chatting with us. They’re usually over weight or frail skinny washed up b*tches that drink the moment they arrive.

    Overall we are in the hospitality business we understand always try to give the absolute best service. It is difficult when these “elite members” give you a hard time for something that is not even our fault. The fact that they can be so obnoxious to say front desk agents “hate on them” just proves what assholes these people really are. B*tch please. Their companies pay for everything. Its not coming out of their pocket. Act like a decent human or at least have some manners.

    May the force be with all the front desk agents this is not an easy job but we love what we do!

  9. I’ve worked in every hotel from the flea-pit motel to now a five star five diamond property up and down S. Florida. And as a front desk agent, Night auditor, phone operator and now Front office manager, Platinum Elite members have EARNED their benefits; whether it’s staying many nights away from their family on business or just to be on vacation–they signed up for it, they’ve earned the points and so they’ve earned the benefits. That’s not a problem for me. I’ll gladly tell you everything that your status is entitled to. It’s when you expect and demand more than the benefits I’ve just explained to you. EVERTHING ELSE other than what that little key envelope insert lists is NOT GUARANTEED. DO YOU UN-DER-STANNNNNDDDuh? lol–it’s not guaranteed. You’re not guaranteed an upgrade if the hotel is sold out–oh you see we are still selling online? Well, we love revenue, so why don’t you book it and see how quickly you’re walked to another property for the night? You’ve traveled the world and this is the first room that doesn’t have pay per view? Well–there’s a first time for everything. Just like you feel as a certain level member you are “beautiful” and unique and should be recognized as such, not all hotels are the same. Even in large chains like Marriott–their autograph collections are literally one of a kind and independent so don’t expect all the Marriott benefits you’re used to at a property that is only AFFILIATED with Marriott and not OWNED by them. Just do your flippin’ research. Platinum elite’s and guests in general will take whatever the FD agent says as gospel then turn and use it against them when they don’t get what they want that’s why all FD agents are taught to never guarantee anything. Master manipulators those who consistently stay in hotels. I tell all my agents to be ware.

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