The life of a hotel front desk agent is one of the more interesting a person can have professionally. In terms of people watching, it might be one of the best jobs possible. Hotel front desk agents have so much experience with guests they can often tell the exact type of person they’re dealing with before a word is spoken.
Our friend, “Olivia,” worked at one of the most popular hotels in her city. Despite the hotel’s popularity, the owner wasn’t a fan of spending money on fixing major maintenance issues and instead invested in expensive remodeling. This meant the hotel looked great from an aesthetic standpoint; however, there were constant maintenance issues. Most of the time, these maintenance issues occurred with the pool.
The owner had a strict “no birthday parties at the pool policy.” Although it sounds like a strange thing to take a stand against, the hotel had two hundred rooms and one pool. For obvious reasons, one guest hosting a birthday party on a Saturday in the pool of a hotel with two hundred full rooms was chaotic. Thankfully, the hotel had plenty of event rooms for guests to book for their birthday parties.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few maintenance issues even without birthday parties at the pool. With two hundred rooms full of guests frequenting the un-updated pool, it was nearly impossible to keep the pool clean and safe for guests to use. This resulted in the pool being closed on many weekends, especially in the Summer. The hotel staff typically just put up a sign in front of the pool and locked the door when it was closed on a weekend.
Olivia often had guests come to the front desk to ask why the pool was closed but she was equipped with plenty of recommendations for other activities guests could do across the city. This response satisfied guests for a surprisingly long time. Little did she know, her streak of luck would come to an end on one fateful Summer weekend.
The Slap of Flip Flops
One Saturday morning in July, Olivia was working at the front desk. The hotel was sold out for the weekend and the place was bustling. She saw a snobby-looking woman come walking in with a small group carrying “coolers, balloons, crockpots, a cake, presents, etc.” Olivia double-checked the party room bookings for the day but nothing was booked.
Olivia thought, “That’s not going to be good.”
Seemingly as soon as she had finished her thought, she heard a shriek, “The doors are locked and the pool is closed!”
Olivia heard “the slap of her flip-flops” as she made her way to the front desk.
I feel like front desk agents at hotels can hear the slap of flip-flops from a mile away. I’m sure there are different cadences of flip-flop slapping like “This guest is coming to scream at me,” or “This guest is enjoying themself and just needs some extra towels.”
“This definitely isn’t going to be good,” Olivia thought. She had been working in the hotel long enough to recognize the sound of angry flip-flop slapping.
I knew it.
The birthday party mom, “Tina,” stomped up to the front desk and said, “The pool is closed.”
Olivia responded, “Yes it is, that’s correct. The pool is not safe right now so it is closed for maintenance.”
Tina retorted, “I have a birthday party booked for the pool, what are you going to do? We have a hundred people coming.”
I’m sure “What are you going to do?” is such an infuriating question for people in the hospitality industry. Olivia isn’t the one trying to have a birthday party in a closed-down pool, Tina is. Just because Olivia is an employee doesn’t magically make it her problem.
Puzzled, Olivia asked, “Are you sure you have the right hotel? We don’t book our pool for birthday parties.”
Taken aback, Tina responded, “Of course I do!”
“Well, We’re Here, Let Us In.”
Still not convinced Tina had any idea what she was talking about, Olivia asked, “Okay, do you have a room reservation or party room reservation?”
Tina doubled down, “No, I just booked the pool.”
Now fully convinced Tina had no idea what she was talking about, Olivia responded, “As I said before, we don’t book just the pool. If we did, there would be a lot of notes and documentation and someone from our sales department would have to be here to handle it.”
Tina snapped, “Well, we’re here, let us in.”
This definitely isn’t a logical argument from Tina. “We’re standing in the lobby so you should let us into the closed pool without question,” probably isn’t going to work in her favor. I don’t think anyone has walked up to the front of a packed restaurant and said, “We’re here, let us in,” to any success. A very entitled approach from a seemingly very entitled woman, I can’t say I’m shocked.
Completely annoyed at this point, Olivia retorted, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that.”
Tina threatened, “That’s fine, I’ll just call the owner. I know Joe and I’ll make sure he rips you a new one for this.”
Tina wasn’t the first entitled guest to try this move with Olivia and she certainly wouldn’t be the last. The owner’s name wasn’t Joe. There wasn’t even someone named Joe on staff. It was a classic scare tactic some guests assumed had never been attempted before them.
Olivia responded, “Okay, go ahead.”
Tina whipped out her phone, proceeded to call someone, and made a huge scene about how Olivia wouldn’t let them into the pool. She hung up and said, “There, you’re about to be fired. Joe is on his way.”
I wonder how often not-fake business owners get calls from their entitled friends demanding them to fire employees for wronging them. I’m sure if Joe was a real person this wouldn’t be the first time Tina had called him demanding to have an employee fired. Most of the stress of being a business owner probably comes from these friends. Imagine owning a Subway franchise and your friend’s wife, who you despise, constantly calls you because she’s screaming at some high school kid for not giving her enough tuna on her sandwich. Entitled people are a burden no matter how well off you are.
Actually amused by how far Tina had taken her lie, Olivia retorted, “Great! Have a seat in the lobby. I’ll talk to Joe when he arrives.”
Tina got her group situated and proceeded to stand at the front desk glaring at Olivia while she went about her business behind the counter. She called whoever Joe was every fifteen minutes to asked him to hurry up. After one call, she turned to Olivia and said, “I’ll forgive everything and smooth things over with Joe if you just let us in.”
More employees should implement the strategy of ignoring entitled customers. Tina, like most entitled people, thinks she is the most important person in the world and Olivia not responding to her glaring probably killed her on the inside. Ignoring them is something small that any employee can do to break the spirit of an entitled person.
Enjoying watching Tina squirm, Olivia responded, “I’m sorry I can’t.”
After around an hour of this stalemate, Tina’s guests began to arrive.
“I’m Not Paying That!”
Tina’s guests were very confused when they arrived to find her standing in the lobby with all of her party supplies. It even got to the point where guests who had just arrived for the party were walking up to Olivia at the front desk and asking to let them in. She politely refused.
Finally, Tina walked up to the front desk and said, “Fine, you win. If I rent a party room can we go into the pool? I can’t believe you embarrassed me in front of all of my guests.”
Olivia responded, “I can rent you a party room but I still can’t let you in the pool.”
Tina caved, “Fine, how much?”
Olivia said, “You will need the biggest party room for this group which is two hundred dollars for the afternoon.”
Tina snapped, “I’m not paying that!”
Olivia retorted, “Well, so far your intention has been to not pay to be here at all. You just wanted to come in and take over the pool, break all of the hotel rules, and do it for free.”
Tina leaned in and whispered, “Please help me. Cut me a deal here. I’m desperate.”
Olivia stood her ground, “No, I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Olivia had the authority to cut Tina a deal but knew better than to reward her behavior by bailing her out.
Just as Tina was about to snap, one of her guests shouted, “Tina! Did you even try renting the pool this time or were you going to try to sneak in? It didn’t work last year either! Come on everyone, we can have the party at my house!”
I love this. If you have an entitled friend and don’t publicly shame them for their bad behavior you’re not a good friend. There would be so much less entitled behavior in the world if friends held each other accountable by publicly shaming each other for trying to walk all over employees who have no choice but to deal with them.
Tina hung her head and followed them out. The following Monday, she filed a complaint through corporate. The owner had a good laugh when Olivia told him the story then threw out the complaint.
Thoughts From The Author
I’m so glad Olivia didn’t cave and help out Tina when she finally broke and got desperate. This was absolutely building up to the end of every story where the hero caves as a result of their absurdly good nature and gives the villain the grace they don’t deserve at all. That makes for a great ending to fictional stories but in reality, it would have just encouraged Tina to try the same exact move at her birthday party the next year and helped her avoid much-needed public shaming from her friends.
Tina’s game plan was so bad it made Olivia think she had the completely wrong hotel before even considering it was an issue on their end. She picked the hotel with the owner who absolutely didn’t allow pool parties and a pool constantly closed for maintenance issues. She would have had better luck saying she had the wrong hotel and trying the exact same thing with a different hotel in the city. A simple phone call in advance would have informed her she was trying to scam a free pool party out of a hotel with a shutdown pool.
The single most ridiculous part of this story is Tina trying the “I know the owner and you’re getting fired” trick. I feel like most employees know the name of their employer so throwing out a fake name like “Joe” is a really good way to lose all credibility of your argument. Olivia obviously still took a gamble assuming Tina was completely full of it when she tried to pull the owner card but giving the completely wrong name was a strong indicator she was lying about the entire thing.
Olivia just solidified my theory that hotel front desk agents aren’t capable of being lied to. They have heard every lie in the book like a guest swearing they had a suite booked, the room looked destroyed when the guest arrived but they forgot to say anything, a guest definitely paid for the continental breakfast, a guest doesn’t know what happened to the towels in their room, you name it. Lying to a hotel front desk agent is one of the dumbest things a guest can do because they actually have time to be petty.