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Older Lady: “I need a room key. My daughter is very tired, I need to get her to bed”
Front Desk Lady: “Sure thing. What’s the last name on the reservation?”
Older Lady: “So-and-so. I’m in room number blah and just need a key. I just want to have my daughter sleep.”
Front Desk Lady: “Ok ma’am. I see that your name is not on the reservation. I can get you they key right away, I just need to know who’s name is on the credit card that booked the reser-”
Older Lady (In an angry tone): “Ok, this is way too difficult. I was told that I could just come down and you give me a key. I don’t understand what the problem is! My daughter is very tired…”
Front Desk Lady (completely composed): I completely understand, ma’am. And since your name is not on the reservation, for security purposes, I just need the name on the credit card that reserved the room.”
Older Lady: “Angry squabble blah blah utterly ridiculous blah blah I can’t believe this!”
Don’t Be A Jerk
This was the conversation standing between Michelle and I, and our free night at the Westin in downtown Seattle for our 5-year anniversary. We’re rocking the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX credit card and had a free night’s worth of points saved up, so we were excited to hangout in downtown all weekend. We were at the “Preferred” check-in, but I think they probably should have renamed it the “entitled” check-in. After a dude whining about something menial for 5 minutes, they comp’d him 2,000 points for the “inconvenience”, and he was still complaining all the way out.
Then this older lady held up the line because she couldn’t answer one. simple. question. Michelle and I just gave each other a look, and felt terrible for the front desk lady, who had just been through the ringer twice in a row, and I’m assuming was dealing with that all freaking day! And the people who were complete jerks to her didn’t really get ahead with all their angry bitterness. Sure, the guy got some points, but also is a bitter angrypants who ruined his whole stay over some minor inconvenience that wasn’t even real. And the lady who couldn’t get her room key is probably going to be complaining all week about her “terrible service” and got nothing but bitterness from the experience.
Plus, neither of these people got the sweet perks that we did by just being nice.
Being Nice Has Its Perks
As Michelle and I stepped up, we engaged the front desk lady as a HUMAN BEING and were as friendly as possible.
Front Desk Lady: “Hello. How are you?”
Michelle: “We’re good. And how are YOU?” (giving her an acknowledging look that she just dealt with some nastiness)
Front Desk Lady: “I’m good, thanks. What can I help you with?”
Me: “Just checking in. And I see that we’re not a Gold or Platinum member, is it ok that we check in here, or should we get in that big line over there?”
Front Desk Lady: “No, don’t worry about that. I can definitely help you. Can I get the last name on the reservation?”
Front Desk Lady: “Great. And can I get your ID for verification”
Me: “Of course.”
Me: “Also, my friend told me that the north tower is where I should stay. I know our room hasn’t been assigned yet, but can I request something in the north tower?”
Front Desk Lady: “Absolutely. Let me see what I have available. Most rooms aren’t available, but would you like something that is open early?”
Me: “No, we’re just going to be walking around, so whenever the room is ready, that’s fine. Say, I did book a room with a water view, but was just wondering is that’s facing the lake or the ocean?”
Front Desk Lady: “We have you facing the ocean, but depending on availability, you may just have a partial view, and may or may not see the space needle. But I’ll see what I can find. I’ll have them give you a call when the room is ready.”
Me: “Ok, thanks a ton. We appreciate it.”
Front Desk Lady: “Great. I can also do late check-out, if you’d like. Check out would be at 4pm instead of 11am. Would you like that option?
Me: “Sure, sounds wonderful. Thanks again!”
Instead of complaining that “the room wasn’t available early”, and how “I had to wait in line”, we just treated the customer service like people. We got a room with a good view, late check-out and no hassles by just being polite. Plus, late-check-out is a Gold and Platinum perk only, but because we just used common courtesy, we got a free perk. Sweet!
But Wait, There’s More
We were just excited to be hanging out downtown while the baby was with “Gammie” (as Nolan calls her). We left the hotel and walked to Pike Place for a bite to eat, some sunshine and shopping. Not 10 minutes into our downtown stroll did I get a call from the hotel.
Me: “WASSSSSSSSSUUUUPPPPPP???!!!!!” (not really, I just said hello)
Front Desk Lady: “Hello, Mr. (redacted)?”
Front Desk Lady: “Hello. I just wanted to call and let you know your room is now available. No rush to come back, we’ll take your bags to the room.”
Me: “Oh sweet. Thanks!”
Front Desk Lady: “I do want to let you know that I went ahead and upgraded your room, because I just figured you two deserve an upgrade. I hope neither of you aren’t afraid of heights!”
Me: “Whaaa? Awesome. Thank you so much!!”
Front Desk Lady: “My pleasure. Again, no rush. Enjoy your time downtown, and your room with be waiting for you.”
Holy Cajolies! We got a wicked sweet upgrade! And you know what, I really do attribute is to treating the lady kindly, and understanding the HELL she must go through on a daily basis. We didn’t approach her with a sense of entitlement, but truly just excited to enjoy our weekend, and knowing that she was there trying to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. And she definitely did!
Our Room Upgrade
The lady put us 4 floors below the top of the building, on the 43rd floor. And our view was spectacular!
Now, having chatted with the Starwood concierge on the phone when booking the room, I know that this room was NOT available to be booked. It was usually reserved for Gold and Platinum members. But we got pushed to the top of the list with a few smiles and just generally NOT being a jerk. It would have cost us double the points we paid, or at LEAST $300 a night to get this room, so it was a pretty awesome upgrade. We saved 10,000 points and had a pleasant stay. We didn’t leave bitter because someone wouldn’t give us a room key without any identification or some other ridiculous request.
This Principle Applies EVERYWHERE
Now, hotels are one thing, and people swing free upgrades all the time. But the principle of NOT being a jerk applies everywhere, especially in the service industry. Next time you go the a restaurant, as your server how they are doing, smile and make eye contact (not in a creepy way), and make a conscious effort to ENJOY you experience. I bet they will make it that much better as well. Heck, might even get bigger portions, faster service, and a good attitude. Or when out shopping at garage sales, strike up a conversation, be enjoyable, and then see what kind of deals you can strike. Haggling works much better when you treat the other person like an equal.
Heck, go crazy and be nice EVERYWHERE you go. And DON’T expect free perks, so that if it does happen, you can be surprised, and if it doesn’t, you won’t be disappointed. But you WILL see tangible returns by being nice at some point. From promotions at work to free hotel upgrades, NOT being a jerk can really improve your life as well as other’s lives around you.
Saving Money Is Not The Point
Yes, this post is titled “how to save money”, but that’s not really the point. The point is to put yourself in other’s shoes before unleashing you wrath on a poor, unsuspecting, freckle-faced kid at RadioShack for not returning your 3 year old home phone without a receipt, threatening the manager, and forcing the workers to call the cops on you (this may or may not have been me behind the counter 8 years back…). You AND the person involved can both enjoy your encounter if you just approach any interaction with a conscious effort to be kind. Sure, the money might swing in your favor sometimes, but being kind pays FAR more dividends than any monetary compensation can make up for. You can either make someone’s day, or ruin it, and I suggest we all choose the former.
Comments: Have you seen any perks from NOT being a jerk to people? Those of you in the service industry know what I’m talking about. Have you treated customers different based on their attitudes? Tell me your stories of how NOT being a jerk has benefited you.
For those who want to enjoy free travel as well, you can read up more on it HERE.