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I’ve Managed a Hotel for Several Years and I’m Ready to Share Some Secrets With You

When we travel, hotels become our temporary homes. And we want to sleep in a soft bed with clean sheets. After long walks and business meetings, we don’t want to argue with receptionists about non-functioning hairdryers. I’m a person that knows a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the hotel business. For several years, I’ve managed a mini-hotel and I have some things I can share with you.

So today, especially for Bright Side, I will share some secrets of my work. Some of them will hopefully be useful for you and others will just make you smile.

  • It is believed that in hotels, the bed covers are washed rarely and coffee machines are dirty. Maybe that’s the case for big hotels, but in smaller hotels, cleanliness is very important. When you have just 8 rooms, no pool, and no restaurant, all you can do is clean all the rooms. This is why the bed covers are washed almost as often as the bed linens — at least once a week, and the coffee machine is cleaned every day. The same goes for the plates in the rooms — they are washed every day, whether they were used or not.
  • Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the curtains. How often do you wash the curtains at home? If you are not allergic to dust, I would guess, once a year, on average. Hotels do it once a year, which is not very often.
  • Rooms are always cleaned before a new guest arrives, but there’s another trick. A few hours before the guest comes, maids wash everything in the room with polish. They pour some nice-smelling liquid into the toilet and flush the water. So, the room looks and smells as if it’s just been cleaned.
  • In order to make guests hungry in the morning and stimulate them to order breakfast, the manager always makes coffee. The smell of coffee in the lobby is very strong and everyone instantly feels hungry.
  • Try not to drink the instant coffee and bagged tea that is free. They are the cheapest possible products because they are free for the guests. They are usually offered to clients while they are waiting to check-in. In our hotel, we served very good coffee for breakfast, but it wasn’t free.
  • Small hotels don’t have kitchens. They don’t have much space and if they do, they will build another room instead of a kitchen. All you can hope for in a small hotel is a microwave oven you can use to heat up some food.
  • If you are booking a hotel and you see a warning that smoking is prohibited, it means it’s really prohibited. Almost all hotels have smoke detectors that will trigger an alarm if there’s smoke. But we can still smell the smoke, even if there’s no alarm. We’ll know you smoked anyway. Please, don’t do this.
  • There are many articles online about how to find a hidden camera in a hotel room. According to studies, 1 in 10 people actually find cameras in their rooms. However, hotel owners can only put cameras in lobbies, corridors, and other places, but not in toilets or rooms. A hotel that cares about its reputation will never do that.
  • Every hotel, even the smallest one, has free services. Our hotel always offered free hairdryers and slippers, every room had shampoo, soap, and shower gels. And we would always print something out for our guests, or call a taxi. Small hotels don’t have lists of free services, but you should always ask the receptionists. Something may be free in one hotel and not free in another.
  • Overbooking is great for hotels and a nightmare for guests. This is when we sell more rooms than we really have: so even if someone cancels their reservation, the room will be booked anyway. But sometimes, nobody cancels their reservations, so there are more people than we can take. Of course, this is our fault and we offer them bonuses — like free breakfasts or higher-class rooms for the same price. We collaborated with a nearby hotel where we could guide our “extra” guests if necessary.
  • Every hotel tries to impress clients somehow, in order to make them regular clients. It’s harder for small hotels: they don’t have such a big list of cool services. This is why in our hotel, we thought that hospitality was our biggest advantage. The manager would always talk to clients if they wanted to chat and tell them about the best places in town.
  • Hotel managers are incredibly polite with all of their clients, even with those that are rude for no reason. Trust me, if you are a kind and polite person, you will definitely be remembered when you come stay with us the next time.
  • In small hotels, you might not only see the manager, but also the owner, at the reception desk. They answer calls, talk to guests, and do many other things. I had to change bed linens, clean bathrooms, and set up TVs. This is part of the job in a small hotel.
  • Hotel owners are working, even when they are not in the hotel. There’s always something to do: buy paint for the walls, plant flowers... Once, I even painted a bench in the street next to the hotel because it looked bad. So if someone thinks that hotel owners just take in money and do nothing, this is completely untrue.
  • Some guests just look for something to criticize. They check every corner of the room looking for dust and dirt. Does this behavior make us angry? Not really because I know that these people don’t have any actual reason to criticize us.
  • Many guests are worried that good reviews are written by the hotel owners and employees to improve their rating. In some services like Google Maps, anyone can write a review and that’s not a good thing. But on websites like Booking and Airbnb, it’s only once you have a confirmation of the reservation that you can write a review, and this is only after you check out. Believe me, a regular hotel will never create a fake reservation just to write a review. So if you want real reviews, go to these websites.
  • Sometimes guests look absolutely happy and satisfied, and after they check out, they write bad reviews about broken hairdryers or broken heaters. It’s better to tell us about these problems while you’re still in the hotel, because we can fix this. You will definitely get a different hairdryer or an additional blanket.

Bonus № 1: Sometimes guests can make mistakes, but the way they make up for them is amazing.

Once, some young guys celebrated Christmas at our hotel. They had a lot of fun, but they turned the hotel into a nightmare: they got the rooms really dirty, they had fights, and they even broke each other’s noses. And there was so much trash! But the most amazing thing was that they offered to clean up after themselves. They were really ashamed of their behavior and they really scrubbed the floors and took out the trash.

Bonus № 2: Most people are good, but there are some bad people too.

On the very first day when our hotel opened, we were robbed. It was a regular lady who had a room reservation. She said she was just going to wash her hands and leave her things, and then come back in the evening. She spent several minutes in the room and then left with one bag. She didn’t return. Late that night, the manager decided to call her, but she didn’t respond. The room was opened and we saw that the TV was gone. How she dismounted it from the wall in just 5 minutes, we have no idea. And it was a really cheap TV.

Bonus № 3: Some people are absolutely amazing.

We had a guest from Germany. He had a whole box of amazing German chocolate that he kept giving to the receptionists. Then, the manager started sharing the chocolates with me. The guy just wanted to do something nice for us and we were really grateful for that.

Would you like to learn something else about hotels? You can leave your questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.

Preview photo credit AliaksaB / shutterstock
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