Nothing makes you question the intelligence of your fellow man like the words “Hey, we oversold the hotel.”
In three months of working here, I have heard those words far too much. Enough so that they have become normalized in my mind, and I know they shouldn’t have. There have been several solutions to this problem; take a room our from ‘out of order’ and hope the guest doesn’t recognize, put them into a room where someone else is scheduled to go and hope that they don’t turn up. But them on a floor where a famous sports team is staying and hope no one notices.
These are all things that have happened.
But in a final moment of desperation you can walk the guest. Walking the guest means that you cancel their reservation, give them a letter to go stay at another hotel, and then show them the door. That letter pays for the other hotel, and so that guest gets a free night! Pretty awesome right?
Maybe. Go back to that first step I mentioned. In some pretty frequently occurring set of circumstances, I have to cancel their reservation (those circumstances being that someone booked with a third party reseller – expedia, booking, etc. Y’know, pretty much fucking everybody). The reason for this is because the hotel doesn’t have a contract with the actual guest. We have a contract with the third party and the third party has a contract with the guest. Those third party contracts are all or nothing – we are not allowed to modify them. We can fulfill them, or cancel them.
So when we are overbooked on Monday night, and you come in with a reservation from Monday to Thursday, I don’t cancel your night’s stay for Monday alone. I cancel YOUR WHOLE FUCKING RESERVATION, then give you a miserable free night at a hotel you didn’t want to stay at to begin with, then tell you to fuck off out the door.
Yea. It’s like that.
“But all my friends and family are staying here.”
I’m sorry, we are sold out.
I’ve done this to a shocking range of reactions. Hotel veterans know the score, and just thank you for your time and go about their day. As doe those weird dudes who live in town but rent out hotel room for their weekends, either because they plan on getting to shit-faced to get home1 or just want to get away from their significant other for a night. But those weird middle aged suburban moms for whom staying in a hotel is some kind of a goddamned treat take great offense to their being inconvenienced. The middle-aged working professional who made this reservation six months ago and knows that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are in town for a convention (thus driving hotel prices through the roof) looks at you with legitimate tears in his eyes when he asks ‘but what about the other night’. Similarly, the woman who’s flight out of Atlanta got canceled because inclement weather and thus drove all the way up, calling every few hours to make sure you still had the fucking room looks at you with a cinematic look of betrayal.
Mind you, I’m the night auditor. All this shit is happening at 3am.
One guy I did this to was so irate he cursed me out, punctuating the storm of words by calling me a ‘cocksucker2’. He apparently cursed the nice lady at the other hotel too, because she called me to thank me for sending that nice guest over.
Or there was the couple who couldn’t agree. The miserly man was overjoyed because ‘hey, free room!’ but she was just mad at having to get back in their car again. To make matters worse she was insisting that the hotel pay for a cab (which we are meant to do), but the hotel doesn’t have an Uber account and I had to do this all the hard way.
You’ll find a fucking unicorn before you find a three A.M. cab not working with uber or lyft. By the time their lyft did get here I could pretty clearly see the fissures in their relationship. I am doing my part to keep dating apps in business, I guess.
I wish I was making this shit up.
But every now and again, this does go smoothly. A decent human being walks into the door and asks about his reservation. You tell him he can take a walk, and he kindly says that he understands. After all, he is coming in at 3AM, and this is a busy hotel. These things happen. Could I find him a cab?
I tell him how unrealistic that is and he just smiles and says, “alright, you work at that while I smoke a cigarette.” When he comes back from his cigarette, he tells you that he found an uber and wishes you a good night.
He’s back at the hotel a few nights later. He asks you how you are and hopes that you are well.
Saints walk among us.
1This really makes no sense to me. If you can’t get home you don’t deserve to go out. No matter how drunk I got I always made it to (someone’s) home – as intended.
2This is an insult I have no heard in twenty years or so, and I had just assumed that we as a society had all realized the great work cocksuckers are doing everywhere. It was strange to hear it again, and brought up emotion, considering the last person to say it to me was my father.