Today I just have a few amusing anecdotes about some of the ridiculous questions we get from time to time. These are from a few coworkers as well as some I've had myself.
A few weeks ago, those of us in the United States just "sprang ahead" and had to move our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time. My colleague received a call from one of our guests who asked "What time is it?" Now, in this day and age, that's kind of a ridiculous question as there are most likely at least 3 clocks in the room: the actual clock, the TV, and the guest's smartphone. My colleague, being a professional, doesn't laugh at the crazy question and answers "Good Afternoon, it is 1:20pm." The guest replies "No, but we just jumped ahead. What time is it?" My colleague, once again the professional, replies "Yes sir, it is 1:20pm." The guest once again, now irate: "No, you don't understand. We jumped ahead last night. What time is it now?" Once again, he replies: "It is 1:20pm." The guest then hangs up on him. It amuses me that this guest not only didn't look at his own devices but, when told the time by an employee, believed he was either being lied to or thought my coworker was so stupid that he either A.) did not understand the question or B.) did not know the simple math involved if our clocks didn't automatically update. Welcome to Hospitality.
Due to Covid-19 my city, just like many others, implemented a ban on dining in restaurants. Restaurants and bars can only do take-out or delivery service. No exceptions. One of my colleagues at the Front Desk received a call just yesterday asking if our restaurant is open. "Unfortunately, due to the State of Emergency and the declaration by the Governor, (restaurant name here) is closed until further notice." "Oh okay.. Well can you make a reservation for next Monday for lunch?" "Unfortunately, sir, we cannot break the law and open the restaurant." Welcome to Hospitality.
I'm going to say this right at the start: I don't have any insider tips or anything for getting deals or free cancellation or anything in regards to the new coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19. This post is more to talk about the current effects it's having on myself and the industry as I see it. Right now, my hotel is heavily restricting hours for non-essential positions but holding out as much as possible to not close so those who can work and get hours can still be paid. The hotel is also assisting with unemployment and hosting job fairs for those of us who aren't necessarily laid off but have no hours. The last resort is closing the hotel and it seems like they are doing everything they can to not do that.
This seems to be a trend in the industry currently: waiting till the last possible second to close to try to help as many employees as possible even when occupancy is at (most likely) historic lows. Restaurants and bars have already been closed in many cities and some only offer delivery or take out services to try to maintain some sort of profit and normalcy during this strange time in our history. In a time when it seems like companies are only out for the highest shareholders and executives, it's nice to know that at least someone in the chain of command cares about us worker bees.
Looking at LinkedIn, one would think that remote work or working from home is something anyone can do and should take advantage of. I have seen dozens of posts and articles about "How to work from home" or "10 Ways to Stay Productive while working from home". I keep wondering where the articles are to collect unemployment or for job fairs in the area or anyone offering side jobs at their now understaffed businesses (medical product manufacturing, hospitals, etc.). Maybe it's just because of my connections that they aren't posting things like that but I haven't seen a single article or post like that.
This shows, in my opinion, how invisible we are in customer service. Everyone seems so focused on remote work for white collar positions and how no one can go to the bars on St. Patty's day but they don't think about how the bartender at their favorite bar now may not make rent next month or the waitress at their brunch spot can't make her car payments because of these restaurant closures. Instead of offering articles on how to continue to work in a different setting (give me a break), how about we offer some solutions for those of us who are out of work and are at risk of spending our small bit of savings trying to stay afloat until we get new jobs or our businesses open up?
This is uncharted territory for everyone. While we've had world changing events like 9/11, the SARS epidemic, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, etc. none have had the continuous international effect like COVID-19. We all need to stick together (but not too close) and help one another in these trying times and hopefully we can get out the other side relatively unscathed and maybe even closer to our neighbors because of it.
I have nearly a decade of experience in hospitality across the country. With this experience comes some stories to tell and advice to give.