Secrets of a Front Desk Agent: Valentine’s Day Blunder and Success

February 12, 2016
Christina Nguyen
4 min read
Valentine's Day

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Are you planning a special getaway for the Valentine’s Day weekend? Some people have this special day planned to a T at least a month in advance. Others… just call it cute spontaneity. When I was a front desk agent for an upper-end hotel, I saw many instances of romantic gestures that required a bit of help from the hotel staff. One was a complete and utter blunder while the other had a happy ending. Hopefully these two stories will give you ideas of what you should keep in mind for this romantic weekend.

What's more romantic than a king size bed covered in rose petals?
What’s more romantic than a king size bed covered in rose petals?

What do you mean you didn’t open my package?!

There was a guest, Mr. Handley, who booked a standard room for his wife and child on Valentine’s day. This type of room is the hotel’s most basic room that has a lower rate and does not guarantee a particular view. He was not happy with the room and demanded the front desk to switch to something with a better view and two beds. We would have been more than happy to, but with the short notice, there was nothing we could do because it was a full house. We had what he reserved.

“I definitely booked an ocean view room with two queen beds,” said Mr. Handley.

“I apologize, sir, but our system states that you booked a standard single queen room,”  the front desk agent responded.

This tends to be a common mistake guests make when they book last minute looking for a two queen bedroom. The two queens run out and the only option is a single queen. They see the word “queen” when booking online and assume that means there will be two beds.

“Why would I book a single queen room?” he said towering over her, “I’ve had this reservation for months!”

We hear this sentence a lot, and it means nothing. First of all, we know exactly how long you have had this reservation, Mr. Handley, and it was booked about a week ago. Second, having a reservation so far in advance doesn’t suddenly make you a special person that deserves anything other than what you reserved.

A box of flowers were also delivered under his name later on during his stay. Without any instruction from Mr. Handley, the staff followed hotel policy by delivering the package to his room without opening the box. Oh my goodness did we hear about it. He demanded a manager, and I came out to speak with him.

“I mean, why didn’t you guys set up the flowers? My wife was completely disappointed just seeing the box thrown in the room!”

It is illegal to open someone else’s mail. Without any specific instructions from Mr. Handley, we were legally prohibited from opening the box. The staff and I felt more sorry for his wife than anything because it was clear that she was upset with his poor planning, and he was trying to blame it on the hotel. As a condolence gift, I sent the wife a complimentary platter of chocolate covered strawberries and champagne.

So for poor, Mrs. Handley, her husband booked a tiny room, didn’t get a sitter, and didn’t setup any amenities. Here’s a different instance where the lady felt very much cared for indeed.

The man who thought of it all…

In a King Size Ocean View room with a balcony, Mr. Stephens, wanted to make sure he and his girlfriend had a romantic night. In addition to the notes written on his reservation, he had spoken over the phone with the front desk staff about his specific requests.

I’m a huge sucker for romance so I volunteered to set up the room while he took his girlfriend out to a romantic dinner in downtown Santa Barbara. With the 300 rose petals that were pre-ordered and delivered to the front desk by Mr. Stephens, I made a big heart on the king size bed and spelled out “I love you” in the middle. I took extra care to place the leftover petals across the television stand and night stands besides the bed. We couldn’t honor his request to have the candles lit in the room because it was a fire hazard and against hotel policy. However, once I was done, I double checked with In-room dining department to make sure they upheld their end by having the champagne and strawberries setup before the guests returned.

Mr. Stephens thanked the front desk profusely and told us that his girlfriend absolutely loved the surprise. I hope he also left a big tip for the housekeeper who had to change the bedding on February 15th. So, let these stories be a lesson learned for everyone, if you give plenty of notice ahead of time the hotel will make sure you have a great time. What are you doing for this romantic weekend? Make sure you call your hotel if you haven’t already. And if you don’t have a special someone, why don’t you join one of our group trips?

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*Names have been changed to protect privacy.