I am a Front Desk Agent….

I am a Front Desk Agent….

The other year I interviewed for a sales position at a Convention and Visitors Bureau and was turned down cold.  Since I did not have a background in hotels, I would be unable to sell their destination and facilities.  To this day, it has not made sense to me, since most salespeople I know from CVBs have only hotel backgrounds and no experience with convention centers or other facilities.  I would have thought that CVBs may just want to have some folks from multiple backgrounds, but who am I?  Undaunted, a few months later, I applied for a position at a hotel in the Baltimore area and was accepted, so I now have that crucial hotel experience behind me the next time I apply at a CVB!

During my time at the property, I was exposed to the joys of working the Front Desk.  I have a new respect for these folks, especially since I have increased my traveling in the last year.  One of my earliest (and most popular) posts on this blog was the I am a Event Manager rant, whose author I have never been able to ascertain.  I believe that the following rant about Front Desk Agents at hotels to be the handiwork of the same author, but am not certain.  Enjoy!

I am a Front Desk Agent
I have advanced degrees in Accounting, Public Relations, Marketing, Business, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, and Swahili.  I can also read minds.
 Of course, I have the reservation that you booked six years ago even though you don’t have the confirmation number and you think it was made under a name that starts with “S”.

It is completely my fault that the blizzard shut down the airport and you have to sleep in a warm king-size bed while 5,000 of your co-travelers are sleeping on benches at the airport.  I am sorry.

It is not a problem for me to give you seven connecting, non-smoking, poolside suites with two king beds in each, four rollaways, 3 cribs, and yes, I can install a wet bar.  I know it is my fault that we do not have a helicopter landing pad.

I am a Front Desk Agent.  I am expected to speak all languages fluently.  It is obvious to me that when you booked your reservation for Friday on the weekend we’re sold out that you really meant Saturday.  My company has entrusted me with all financial information and decisions, and yes, I am lying to you when I say we have no more rooms available.  It is not a problem for me to quickly construct several more guest rooms.  THIS time, I will not forget the helicopter landing pad.  It is my fault that everyone wanted to stay here.  I should have known you were coming in, even though you had no reservation.  After all, you stay at our brand of hotel all the time, 300 nights a year, and this is only the first time you’ve ever been to our city.

I am a front desk agent.  I am quite capable of checking three people in, two people out, taking five reservations, answering fifteen incoming calls, delivering six bath towels to room 625, plunging the toilet in room 101, and restocking the supply of pool towels, all at the same time.  Yes, I will be glad to call the van driver and tell him to drive over all the cars stuck in traffic because you’ve been waiting at the airport for 15 minutes and you’ve got jet lag.

I am a front desk agent, an operator, a bellhop, houseman, guest service representative, housekeeper, sales coordinator, information specialist, entertainment critic, restauranteur, stock broker, referee, janitor, computer technician, plumber, ice-breaker, postman, babysitter, dispatcher, laundry cleaner, lifeguard, electrician, ambassador, personal fitness trainer, fax expert, human jukebox, domestic abuse counselor, and verbal punching bag.  Yes, I know room 112 is not answering their phone,  and, of course, I have their travel itinerary so I know exactly where they went when they left here 9 hours ago, and what their cell phone number is.

I always know where to find the best vegetarian-kosher-Mongolian-barbecue restaurants.  I know exactly what to see and do in this city in fifteen minutes without spending any money and without getting caught in traffic.  I take personal blame for airline food, traffic jams, rental car flat tires, and the nation’s economy.

I realize that you meant to book your reservation here.  People often confuse us with the Galaxy Delight Motel, Antarctica.  Of course, I can “fit you in” and yes, you may have the special $1 rate because you are affiliated with the Hoboken Accounting and Bagel Club.

I am expected to smile, empathize, sympathize, console, condole, upsell, downsell (and know when to do which), perform, sing, dance, fix the printer, and tell your friends that you’re here, and I know exactly where 613 Possum Trot Lane is in the Way Out There subdivision that they just built last week.

After all, I am a Front Desk Agent!

10 Responses to I am a Front Desk Agent….

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Ruby, Destination Halifax. Destination Halifax said: My hotel tweeps will like this one. Too funny! RT @gregruby: "I am a Front Desk Agent" http://bit.ly/gmHxTn #eventprofs #hotels [...]

  2. Ann Manion says:

    Greg,

    This is very funny!

    Anyone who’se worked in the hotel business knows that this is mostly not an exaggeration. Isn’t it amazing that despite the challenges front desk personnel face, the vast majority greet these requests and guest interactions with finesse and a smile on their face?

    Thank you for some terrific creative writing, I like your random musings.

    Ann

  3. Eric Hatch says:

    Beautiful, Greg. As usual, you are funny, concise, and an expert at describing human nature.

    Why wouldn’t you? You’re a Front Desk Agent, which is short-hand for Superhero with every power imaginable.

    Be shrewd as serpents, and harmless as doves.
    EH

  4. Nancy says:

    Oh my goodness, this is so great.
    I have rants about being a Front Desk Agent from day one.
    I was thinking it would be so funny to type up a rant every day and thought, hmm, I bet there is something already out there!

    It’s amazing the mutual feelings all Front Desk Agents have.

  5. Austin says:

    Very true Greg. Thank you-

  6. John Song says:

    You are my Hero! Greg.

  7. Megan Riley says:

    You are my hero. This is my daily life. Thank you.

  8. HeatherDawn says:

    Well I literally cracked up reading, “I am a Front Desk Agent”.

    I started out as an agent and then went on to Sales/Convention manager and then to GM. I suppose I could do a rant for both of those as well, but nothing comes close to what you experience both the good and the bad when employed as an agent.

    I’m happy to say the majority of guests were delightful, but there were a few with the exact mindsets you outlined above. Even so of all my positions in the hotel industry the one I most enjoyed was Front Desk Agent.

    Our hotel burned down last year, putting us all out of work and the one thing I find for all of us, is the jobs we often complained about, we all miss so much. So yes being a front desk agent can have some…”Are you kidding me moments”. If you are one focus on the parts of the job that bring you joy, and think about what if you couldn’t do it anymore, would you miss it. If not, your probably in the wrong line of work and should commence looking for something that you truly would miss.

    Thank you for the smile, and the bittersweet memories.
    Heather

  9. Ace says:

    Nice.

    You forgot to mention that, being a front desk agent, we should know that it’s acceptable that guests travel without a credit card or any money at all and it’s our responsibility to ensure they get a room right away even though the reservation was booked under their nephew’s girlfriend’s dad’s name, who of course is not coming.

  10. Jeff says:

    OMG!! This is so hilarious. I work as a FD agent and can related to almost everything Greg mentioned. I am all for providing guest services to guests and will try to accommodate guest requests within reason. However, I am not here to kiss anyone’s ass. Also, guests should know, when they book a room with Priceline or any 3rd party bulk rate company, you are guaranteed a room, not any special requests. Don’t act like you should have entitlements. Yes, I still need a credit card for incidentals even if you pre-pay.

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