Tag: Aditya Rajaram

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'Welcome Back': The Art (and Science) of Recognizing a Loyal Guest

December 4, 2014 at 1:35 PM | by | ()

Recently, a reader and frequent hotel guest was exasperated that a hotel did not recognize his repeat stays, asking the forced and scripted question,"Have you stayed with us before?" each time he checked in. We turned to our Front Desk Guy, Aditya Rajaram to answer why this happened. As hotels ramp up their "let's be friends" and "we care about you, really" marketing schemes to entice the "new generation" of travelers, we thought this was an important aspect of the hotel experience to analyze. Here's his take on it all.

The question of loyalty at hotels is perhaps one of the most fundamental questions in hospitality. The ability to recognize and appreciate a returning guest is a balancing act between art and science. The "science" of it is left to the multiple hotel company systems and databases that store prior stays, preferences and options but the "art" comes from the hotel employee's ability to filter through all the data, and perhaps rely on their own memory system, so they can genuinely welcome back each guest and provide them with a customized stay.

Unfortunately, both science and art can fail, leading to a really bad scenario. When this happens, the hotel does not only have the requisite guest information (history of stay, preferences etc) on file but they do not appropriately reward their loyalty with warmth, relevant perks or a heightened level of service.

Below, I'll explain how recognizing repeat guests *should* work, as well as explain what commonly goes wrong.

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How Do Hotels Decide Which Room to Give You?

November 6, 2014 at 10:51 AM | by | ()

Ever wonder what goes on behind the computer screen behind the front desk? Like, how did they decide to put you in the smoking room when you asked for non-smoking? Or how did they give you a deluxe room with an ocean view when you only paid for a standard city view? Our Front Desk Guy, Aditya Rajaram, is here to tell you all about it. Got a question about the front desk? Let us know.

Room allocations at a hotel are quite complex. The juggling of different room types, VIP requests, accessible requirements and guarantees can be a very delicate task, which is often complicated by the hotels lay out whether it be oversized (Vegas!), historic (church!) and oddly designed (Berlin!)

Deciding which guest gets which rooms falls to one of the most multi-dimensional roles in the hotel, the rooms controller.

Not only is the rooms controller supposed to manage the inventory of the hotel and ensure that the hotel maximizes its revenue for the day, week, month and year, but also they must know the hotelís priorities when it comes to their guests, namely which special requests supersede others. After all that they have to make sure they keep a few tricks (rooms) aside in case of any last minute problems and requests.

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3 More Basic Things Hotels Must Offer Their Guests

October 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM | by | ()

Our Front Desk Guy, Aditya Rajaram, is sipping pumpkin spice latter right now as he rounds up three more basics for hotels. Got a question about what goes on behind the front desk? Let us know.

Earlier, we gave you 10 Basic Things a Hotel Must Offer Guests, no matter what the service level, as these basics are the core of any hospitality offering.

Those requirements ranged from security to cleanliness to service responsiveness. However, as the industry has evolved, the needs of guests too, have evolved. The constant demands for technology and customization have elevated the need for hotels across all service levels to keep up with these demands and ensure that they offer them through accessible and affordable options. Here are some of those requirements that have become, The Basics 2.0.

We'll be continually posting new "basics" so if you've got an idea for one, let us know.

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What You Need to Know About Tipping in Hotels

September 18, 2014 at 1:52 PM | by | ()

Now that Marriott Hotels are encouraging guests to leave tips for housekeepers by placing tip envelopes in the room, we thought it was a good idea to have our front desk guy, Aditya Rajaram offer some of his own, er, tips, on tipping in hotels.

The never-ending question of whether to tip, how much to tip, and who to tip at a hotel drives all guests a little crazy. In some parts of the world, it is frowned upon to give a tip and in others it is customary. In U.S. cities that are heavily unionized, well, you are pretty much booed if you don't.

Here are a few careful thoughts on tipping in the hospitality industry.

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The Surprise Guest in Your Hotel Room: How The Heck Did This Happen?

September 10, 2014 at 1:40 PM | by | ()

At least he's wearing underwear.

Our former front desk guy, Aditya Rajaram, has given valuable tips on effectively complaining to the front desk when something goes wrong. He's also shared what really happens behind the front desk. Now, he's giving us the lowdown on the most horrible offense a front desk can commit--assigning two different guests to the same room.

Hotel guests often think that the hotel's computer system are without error, but the truth is, not only can these systems malfunction, they can also fall victim to human error, typically by the front desk associate.

Hotel staff are trained to be very careful with the check-in process. This means checking the entire reservation screen to make sure we have the name/address and payment information right (and to write down the room number for the guest, not say it out loud.) Alas, mistakes are inevitably made and serious guest issues can arise.

The most serious offense made by a front desk associate is when two guests are checked into the same room. Below, I'll explain how this miscommunication could have happened and what the guest and the hotel should do when it does.

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Is There Any Way Around Those Hidden (And Not Hidden) Hotel Fees?

September 2, 2014 at 2:50 PM | by | ()

The minibar menu is a good place to start for finding out what's NOT free in your hotel room

Our former front desk guy has given valuable tips on effectively complaining to the front desk when something goes wrong. Now, he's got a few tips on getting around those pesky hotel fees that pop up from out of nowhere on your bill.

Hotels have been notorious for offering "convenient" products and services, then finding a way to tack on the extra charges to your hotel bill before you leave. According to a recent report, those fees will total up to $2.25 billion for hotels in the U.S. for this year alone.

While some fees and surcharges are unavoidable, i.e. the infamous Javits Convention Center tax in NYC and state and municipal taxes, there are other fees that aren't always clearly marked, like that daily newspaper charge that is actually optional or the pool towel fee that isn't listed anywhere except in small print at the bottom of a sign far away from the pool entrance.

Here are some ways to ensure you avoid these fees and if they are unfairly charged, how to get them removed:

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Yes, The Hotel's Front Desk is Talking About You. Here's What They Are Saying

August 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM | by | ()

Oh, if those computers could talk.

Our former front desk guy has given valuable tips on effectively complaining to the front desk when something goes wrong. But if start a screaming match with the front desk, or any other hotel employee, you can be assured they will "make a note of this." Here's what really goes on behind the front desk.

Most hotels have a system where information about each guestsí needs are documented and further highlighted upon check-in, so that all staff are aware of the profile of the guest and anticipate all their needs. These comments are further enforced during a typical 15-minute "stand-up" (a pre-shift run through of the dayís status, events, information and VIPs). A proper handling of these comments ensures that all staff has the same information and relays a consistent level of information and service to the guest.

However, some of the comments placed on a guest account go far beyond the rudimentary drink and pillow preferences, and instead highlight details pertaining to a specific incident during their previous stay or an extreme requirement that must be attended to when a guest checks in, or an alert about unorthodox behavior or a previous complaint placed by the guest.

Below is a glimpse of some comments that have graced guests' accounts over my years as part of the front desk team, and how we handled them.

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10 Basic Things a Hotel Must Offer Guests

July 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM | by | ()

There's a lot going on in this room but are the basics all there?

He's told us how to deal with getting walked and how to effectively complain to the front desk. Now our former front desk manager has returned with some helpful advice for all the hotels out there.

Some of the most imaginative hotels in terms of design and service offering are being developed around the world. From underwater hotels to treetop hideaways, new properties are pushing the boundaries of what a typical hotel experience should feel like.

Although these hotels are innovative in their delivery of service and product, there are still some "basic" requirements that all hotels should have to make their experiences both welcoming and comforting to guests.

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What It Means to 'Get Walked' By a Hotel and How to Ensure It Doesn't Happen Again

June 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM | by | ()

He's told us how to effectively complain to the front desk and how to book a hotel room like a boss. Now our former front desk manager has returned with some helpful advice for a traumatic experience--getting walked at a hotel.

Missed flight. Second missed flight. Five-hour layover. Raining. No taxis. You finally get to the hotel 12 hrs later only to hear this:

" Good evening and welcome. Unfortunately we are unable to honor your reservation at this time however we haveÖ"

With the words slowly fading away, you see yourself follow the typical signs of grief: denial, anger, bargaining etc. Why did this happen? Why did it happen to you? Why today? These are completely understandable questions that go through every guestís mind when their reservation is not honored at a hotel, more commonly referred to as "being walked."

Below you will find a complete guide to the "Walk" process--from how hotels manage their revenue/reservation management system to the planning that goes into place on a sold-out day, to what you as a guest should expect when you are walked and finally, how to ensure (or at least try) it does not happen again.

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How to Effectively Complain to The Hotel's Front Desk (As Told By a Former Front Desk Agent)

June 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM | by | ()

He's told us how to book a hotel room like a boss and he's given a behind-the-scenes explanation for a common room problem but now our former front desk manager is back with the most important advice of all--how to effectively complain to the front desk when things don't go your way.

"Can you please arrange a wake up call for me?" Check. "Can you please have someone pick up my laundry?" Check. "Can you please have someone service my room?" Check. "Why is my TV not working?" It will be fixed, check.

The front desk is truly the heartbeat of any hotel. That is not to say that the other departments arenít equally important, like housekeeping and engineering, which really are some of the hardest working departments in a hotel but, the front desk serves as the main go-to point for every single issue, good or bad, for all hotels.

The true mavericks of this department are the front desk agents, the tireless staff who are the face of the hotel and constantly get called upon to do every single task, whether it is within their job description or not. They ensure that no matter what problem, what concerning department, who the last staff member spoken to, the guestís issue will be sorted out through one point of contact, them.

Here are some Do's and Don'ts for effectively complaining to the front desk:

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Why Did The Hotel Put You in an Accessible Room When You Didn't Ask For One?

May 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM | by | ()

An accessible bedroom at the Element Las Vegas. It looks quite the same as the others but we felt too guilty staying in it when we didn't need it. Also, there wasn't enough counter space in the bathroom.

Fresh off of teaching how to book a hotel room like a boss, our former front desk manager has returned to answer a common hotel problem--getting placed in an accessible hotel room when you didn't request an accessible hotel room. Here's his take:

This is something we faced quite a few times at the hotel in Washington, DC where I worked. As a historic property, each of our rooms was a different size (some were very small) and we had to make the best use of our accessible rooms because they were bigger.

Accessible rooms should always be kept open for people who really need them but on occasion, hotels will rent these rooms out to others. The reason being is hotels often have a misconceived notion that an accessible room is preferred by guests because of its larger size. But what hotels don't realize is that there are some significant drawbacks to an accessible room. Like, not having a bathtub if someone wanted one, or having an unusually high toilet.

It truly takes a very well-versed hotel staff to understand and anticipate a guests "actual" needs. i.e. you may be willing to forgo a larger size room, but you really do need a bathtub or more counter space at the sink. Size doesn't always matter, but amenities always do.

So, aside from the hotel assuming you'd just like the extra space, here are some other reasons why they would assign this type of room:

1. The room that was blocked for you was accidentally removed and you were given the best available by the time you arrived. (I cannot tell you how many times a front desk agent has just unblocked a room type without reading the comments on the screen!!) When you did arrive they had to scramble to get you the room that you asked for and the accessible room was the best they could do.

2. It could also just be that you arrived late to the hotel and since they were fully booked, they gave you the best they had.

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How to Book a Hotel Room (Like a Boss): Part 2

May 8, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | ()

Booking a hotel room isn't exactly rocket science. Find the hotel you like, click on the room or rate you like and boom, you're booked. But when there are so many ways to book a room--through the hotel, through an independent booking site, on your phone, etc.--things can get a little crazy. And if you're comparison shopping, then you can really get sucked into the dizzying booking vortex as you hunt down the best price.

Luckily, we've got a former front desk manager on hand who will tell you how to book a hotel room like a boss. (The bad ass person kind, not the actual boss of a company kind.)

Here are his Do's and Don'ts of Booking a Hotel Room. Yesterday, we gave you the DO's. Today it's onto the DON'TS. Got a question about booking a hotel room? Let us know!

THE DONíTS OF BOOKING A HOTEL ROOM (as told by a former front desk manager)

1. DONíT only rely on the traditional booking sites like Tripadvisor, Expedia and Travelocity for bookings. There are some other fantastic that offer travelers a truly customized booking experience based on your mood or even a specific amenity. Some of these include Tablet, HotelTonight, and Gogobot.

2. DONíT deal with multiple hotel staff when trying to book with the hotel. We are all one team and word gets around fast that a guest is trying to play the field. Trust that we do try our best to accommodate your every request. Going through the front desk agent, then a manager and then making a call to the Resident Manager is just going to frustrate the hotel staff. We are fully aware of how valuable your business is to us and we are going to do our best.

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