Working in the tourism industry puts you in a unique position. For one, you get to work with and for people from all around the world. You also get to reap a wide range of benefits, such as travel discounts, and depending on your position, you may even get to frequently travel and explore new places.
One of the lesser-known advantages of working in this industry is the insider knowledge you acquire. For better or worse, there is a good amount of information tourist industry workers are aware of that they’re simply not allowed to tell their guests. At least, they’re not supposed to.
Fortunately for us, the following workers decided to share a handful of these secrets (but be forewarned, there are some you would probably be better off not knowing).
45. Cruise Of Corpses
Odds are, someone died on your cruise. Think about all the old folks you see get on to the boat — for a lot of them this is their retirement home (and cheaper than a lot of other retirement homes). They are literally taking cruises until they die and we eventually find them in their cabins.
44. Free Fridge
You can get a free fridge in your room. Say you need it for medication. Laws say they can’t pressure details out of you. May not work at the smaller motel/hotel but should for most larger hotels/cruises.
43. One Man’s Trash
Currently working as a housekeeper. People leave anything and everything behind. Forget your curling iron? We probably have one. Need a charger? Yep. Toys for your child? You got it. If you ask,while we’re in-between rooms or cleaning a common area, we’d love to help you out. It’s just that no one really asks.
42. Drunk And Distracted
When you bring your children to our hotel for sporting events (baseball tourneys etc.), we really hate you more than them because you get drunk and ignore them while they tear our hotel apart.
41. Little White Lies
I worked for a fancy restaurant in a tourist town that catered to cruise line passengers looking to get away from the ships. Our desserts were frozen and shipped to us from a company named Gourmet Chefs. So when you read the menu description, and we say that all of our desserts are prepared by gourmet chefs… we aren’t lying. They were just reheated and prepared by a high school kid making $3 an hour.
40. A Useful Loophole
If you ever need to cancel a hotel reservation but it’s already past the cancelation deadline, just call and move your reservation up a few days. Wait 5 minutes, then call back, now you’re well within the cancelation window, and can cancel your stay for free.
39. Child Care, Kind Of
I work in the entertainment department at an upscale resort, where the average price is $500 per night. We help with both the daycare center and with large groups in-house that companies host.
I will say that our child daycare is pretty safe. The only sketchy thing is that we will ALWAYS tell you that your kid had a good time, regardless of whether they were crying up until just before you got there. Parents leave their numbers with us to call if the kid wants to go home, but whenever a kid complains that they want to go home, we do everything in our power to make sure that they stay (we want to get paid).
Also, the in-group activities we do (biking, hiking etc.) are sometimes made up on the spot, since the entertainment department decided not to properly train us in all of our offered activities. Newer staff (generally the people that only work summers) are told the morning of that they’re running a certain activity and given a really vague rundown of how it’s supposed to go. Companies pay thousands of dollars for these activities, but I can assure you the thought that goes into them is essentially zero.
38. Barfing Over The Buffet
I worked in numerous luxury 5-star properties world wide. You would be SHOCKED at the food quality in buffets. I’ve seen yellow food colouring added and labelled as “saffron sauce.” The pan-fried sea bass? Haha! It’s pan-fried white fish that comes in generic bags labeled “white fish.” People change the expiration date on stuff so that the food cost doesn’t increase. The amount of frozen food sold and labeled as “fresh” is astounding! A la carte food tends to have much better quality
37. Pillow Talk
If you ask for a pillow, I’ll give you a pillow. If you’re asking for *ahem* an intimate companion, you’ll ask for a pillow for the second time with emphasis on the word ‘pillow’.
I’m not allowed to ask whether you wanted a pillow or a pillow, but if you emphasize the word, I’ll get it.
Also, go to the concierge (down to the lobby) instead of calling. Everyone calls if they want a pillow. You have to be either dense or really want one to go to the concierge.
36. Biased Recommendation
If we recommend a restaurant, we probably either like that place or know our coworkers like it. If we recommend an activity, it’s entirely possible we were basically bribed. I would never tell someone to go somewhere I think is awful, but if there are seven rafting places in town of equal quality, I’m gonna send you to the one that will bring me sandwiches for sending you.
35. Making Money At Sea
Ports that are closer to a big city cost more money. That’s why we sometimes dock far away from a major destination and passengers will have to take a train to the big city.
The ship only makes (good) money while it’s out at sea, so I’ve been on voyages that would spend the late-afternoon/night at sea instead of in port, in spite of two destinations being 30 minutes from one another.
34. Dying For a Discount
At IHG hotels — that is Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaza etc. — if you say you’re there for a funeral/death, and you ask for the bereavement rate, it’s close to 50% off. We also aren’t allowed to mention it exists, or give the rate unless directly asked for it by a guest checking in.
Something else we hide from guests: generally when a guest booked a room from a third party company (Orbitz, booking.com, Expedia) they typically paid more. Our managers had us go out of our way to hide that from guests.
Lastly, if a guest came into the hotel that didn’t fit the image of an “ideal guest” (that is, tattoos, tattered clothes, etc.), we were instructed to quote a much higher room price. And if they decided to stay, to actually charge them this inflated price.
33. Ragging On Hotels
I worked at Holiday Inn Express for a little bit. Spread a towel out on the counter before putting your stuff on it, because I know some of my coworkers would go from floor to shower to toilet to sink with the same rag.
We typically get 10 rags a day to clean. they are color-coded to match the cleaner they’re used with (i.e. bathroom is pink, window/glass is blue, dusting solution is yellow), and we use 2 or 3 per room. If you have 15 rooms, that means you use the same cleaning rag for 3 bathrooms, and for the guest that’s the best case scenario. I know girls who would do twelve rooms or more with two rags: bathroom and not bathroom. Nobody cared; the goal was to remove all traces of the last guest and make it smell nice. It was the most disgusting and demeaning job I’ve ever had.
32. Royal Treatment
My friend worked on Royal Caribbean on the Explorer of the Seas in 2006. He said I could book a cruise through him for $15/night, employee discount. I might have to stay in his cabin with him, but he would see what he could do about getting an unused room for me. Since he departed from Bayonne, NJ, and I lived close, I decided to take him up on the offer and do a four-night trip to Bermuda. The regular room — an interior cabin — panned out, so I had my own room to myself! AND I got a pass that allowed me access to employee-only areas.
I don’t know if I was supposed to be escorted with my friend in all of the non-guest areas, but no one said anything to me when I walked around the ship as long as I had my “Employee Guest” badge with access to all of the employees-only doors that my badge allowed. I certainly gave no reason for anyone to be suspicious, so that probably helped. It was lots of fun to just go exploring a little bit. The crew areas were relatively clean and reminded me of hospital hallways.
31. Mind Your Manners
Rule of thumb, never treat the staff like crap. They are people too, and for goodness sakes they are taking care of you. Also don’t bash on maids. For example, I always hear, “Why do your maids speak Spanish so much?” Well, that’s pretty simple, it’s their native language. Doesn’t make them less of a person, and they are the hardest working people in the hotel who get the least amount of money. Plus, they have access to your stuff daily and there aren’t cameras in the rooms. So be nice.
30. Okay With Overbooking
Just like airlines, hotels purposefully oversell. The hotel will purposefully sell more rooms than it has and banks on cancellations/no-shows. It’s very possible at any given time that you could show up with a reservation and be “walked” to another property (where the hotel will then pay for your room at another location). It might sound like a sweet deal if you’re traveling for leisure, but it’s a huge pain if your company is footing the bill or you’ve been traveling all day and just want to climb into bed.
29. Swimming In It
Ships can dump toilets directly out to the sea when they are far enough from shore. Sometimes they cheat and do it a little closer in, sometimes they do it at port. Don’t get in the water down current from a cruise ship.
Also, a lot of lines will dump trash at sea, especially if they are going really far from shore or will be on the water a while. Usually, this is stinky food waste, but sometimes they just dump the whole lot.
28. Third-Party Disaster
Never book through a third party (ie Priceline, booking.com, etc). You have absolutely no recourse if anything goes wrong, and we most likely will not compensate you in any way since you will not be receiving a hotel survey. More importantly, Priceline or another third party WILL screw up your reservation in some way, or give you wrong/misleading information, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll just ask you kindly to call them and talk to them about it.
27. Tuning It Out
Noise complaints will be promptly ignored. Why? Because sound carries from several rooms above you, and most people don’t know which room is being loud even when it’s right next to them. Being one room off is the difference between asking someone to keep it down, and waking up the people at 3 am. I’ll go up and listen to see if I can pinpoint the room, but if I can’t, then you’re just gonna have to deal with it.
26. Dirty Laundry
If you’re looking for somewhere discreet on a cruise ship and your room is not available for whatever reason, the laundry rooms don’t have cameras and do have locks on the doors. Wild stuff happens there late at night.
25. Smoothing It Over
I have worked at a couple of B&B style places. First off, we never changed the comforter, only when it had something on it or we had someone we really wanted to impress. In rooms with two beds, if one of them looks like it wasn’t slept in, we don’t bother changing the sheets; we just smooth out the wrinkles. At the places I’ve worked, we had no night time staff most of the time. We also never lock the doors at night. Some guys could back up a pickup truck to the door, load it up with hotel furiture, and be gone before anyone knew.
24. Selling Out
If you are a jerk, I’ll tell you we are sold out. When you question it, I’ll tell you we are still sold out. If you ask, “Is that the best you can do?” or try to flirt to get a better rate, I’ll tell you, “I’m so sorry, it looks like we just sold out.” If you threaten to never come back, I secretly have little birdies singing in my soul.
23. Help Us Help You
I can’t think of any big secrets, but I will say if you have any questions or requests, no matter how stupid or weird, let the staff know. We love to help people, that’s why we went into the industry. And it makes it a lot better for both the guest and the staff when we can help you while you’re still in the hotel, and not when you’re calling corporate after checkout to complain.
22. Beware The Bed Bugs
BED BUGS! They are and have been everywhere. A hotel will never tell a guest they’ve dealt with previous infestations, but they have. If you deal with people coming off airplanes, you end up seeing bedbugs. Of course, we call exterminators and deal with it and would never knowingly send you to a room with bedbugs. But they’ve been there.
I’ve worked at three different hotels in different parts of the country and all of them have had bed bugs found in a room here and there at some point. So what I want you to take from this is: when you check into a hotel always, always, ALWAYS, pull up all four corners of your fitted sheets and check the mattress of every hotel room or strange bed you sleep in.
21. Crazy Crew
The crew parties are crazy! I went on a cruise last year that toured Japan and Russia with some friends. The cruise mostly had old people on it, so we decided to look for some fun. We got a tip from other passengers that the crews have parties downstairs where the passengers don’t have access. So my friends and I decided to sneak down when everyone was asleep.
I remember, we could hear the music as we went further down, and we finally hit this room that had all the entertainers and workers partying hard at the crew bar. We were only able to stay for about 10-15 minutes before some of the staff recognized us as the passengers and booted us out. I’ll never forget that, though!
20. Late-Night Delivery
If you order food in the middle of the night, the porter has to take a break from scrubbing toilets to go and make it for you. Phone a local takeaway and have food delivered to the front desk. Don’t ask the hotel if you can, just do it. Nobody cares, but they may have to say no depending on management rules. The food will be cheaper and probably better.
19. Domestic Matters
If you come in with an obvious *ahem* working girl, please don’t tell me it’s your wife/girlfriend. It makes it even worse . Do you want us to think that we see your wife here every other weekend with a different guy?
Don’t ask if so and so is staying here. I don’t want you to come in to claim your cheating husband/wife (although women do it much more) and start a huge domestic fight. Seen those, and they were ugly.
When we have celebrities staying, don’t hound them, swarm around them, loiter around the entrance, or come up to the front desk saying you’re a relative/friend and asking for their room number. No!
18. Pet Therapy
If you want to dodge the pet fee, just claim you have a service animal/therapy pet. We can’t do anything about it except hate you.
Also, booking through a third party automatically makes you a second class citizen and you’ll be the first to get booted if the hotel overbooks.
17. Dark Ice
On a cruise ship, they sometimes store the ice for the ice sculptures in the morgue.
16. Two Queens
Ask for a room with two queen beds instead of one king. Apparently it’s cheaper.
Also, getting a late check out is as easy as just asking for it. Most people think they charge extra for it but they don’t. If you ask nicely and depending on the worker, they’ll let you check out as late as 1:00 pm.
15. Chef Wars
A chef murdered another chef on one of my ships. We had to keep it hush hush.
14. Tip Chasers
If you leave your camera bag, purse, credit card, cell phone, etc. while leaving, we first check the tip before we decide if we can chase you down. You left 2 minutes ago, you had a bright orange shirt, and you left your $1,000 DSLR camera on the spare chair? Let’s see… Oh, an 8% tip. Lost and found it is.
13. The Truth About Times Square
All the Times Square attractions are complete, overpriced rip-offs.
And you can get Broadway tickets significantly cheaper directly at the box office than at the concierge. We would mark some tickets up by more than $100. Also, if you really, really insist on doing the TKTS thing, go to South Street Seaport. There is almost never a line there.
If you’re a sexist jerk, we make fun of you. We also have ways of making you wait if you make our lives miserable. There are a lot of doors a concierge can open for you, but we can close them just as easily if we want.
12. Breakfast Expectations
You need to stop expecting breakfast from hotels that don’t have a restaurant. You are eating the exact same food that you could find at a gas station, only more stale and frequently touched by strangers. The cost of this “free” breakfast is built into your room. Stop expecting places with no form of a kitchen to provide you with breakfast. It makes no sense.
11. Timely About Taxis
We will call you a cab, but you better be ready. The cab drivers have no patience for tourists, they know you’re not long-term business.
10. Finder’s Keepers
We take your stuff. Not immediately, but if we can’t figure out who you are or the number doesn’t work when we call and you forgot your $300 watch and can’t be bothered to try and find it for 3-4 months, that’s my watch. Again, though, we are very honest about lost stuff. Most places I’ve been have some sort of file for lost and found or at least organize it by month. If you call, we will look and do our best to find your stuff, but people lose so many things that if we kept it all, half the rooms would be full of your bras and flip flops.
9. Ordering Out Of Turn
If you’re eating in the dining room, the kitchen is set up so that the cooks are all turning out various appetizers, salads, and soups for the first 15 minutes or so. So chef one, two, and three are all making shrimp cocktail after shrimp cocktail and throwing it on the line. Chef four, five, six are making the escargot, etc. Your server takes your order and starts grabbing items off the line.
After the 15 minutes are up, the cooks switch the line over to entree production. Same process repeats.
The problem is when you order an appetizer, salad, or soup after your entree or after the line has swapped over. It messes up the flow and they have a smaller number of cooks available to make any of those “out of order” items.
8. Code Brown
People poop in the pool… regularly.
7. Cheating A Cheater
Tip number 1: If you’re going to cheat around on your spouse, use an assumed name. The front desk agent will probably be cool and not ask too many questions a $20 bill doesn’t answer. I had a guy come in and say he lost his room key and forgot his room number. Could I help him out? I asked for his ID, and it matched the last name on my ledger. So I gave him a key with the number since that was our protocol. Turns out he was there to catch his wife in the act.
Tip number 2: always use that second arm lock, though some hotel staff have a tool to disable that as well.
6. A Common Pain
The people who stay with us the most are the biggest jerks. “Diamond” members, or the equivalent at other brands, are those guests who spend a lot of time at hotels. While we appreciate their business, and I can sympathize given the amount of time you’re on the road or in the air, that does not entitle them to anything they please. Many of them seem to disagree.
I’ve had “diamond” members ask me to move guests in other rooms because they were having a conversation at a normal volume. I’ve had them threaten to get me fired. I even had one woman demand a free night because she hit the emergency button on her room phone. She said that the police officers sent to check on her had disturbed her sleep.
5. Pawful Manners
Day camp makes your dog worse. They may be really well-behaved when you start coming, but there are some bad dogs there and your dog will pick up bad habits (eating poop, digging in the water bowl, etc.). That being said, your dog is still a dog. Don’t get upset if you see your dog getting humped by another dog or if they are doing the humping. It’s normal and never sexual. Intact males aren’t even allowed in day camp for this reason. Once had a woman freak out when she brought her Yorkie to try day camp. First thing the dog did was lick the pee off another. She never brought her dog back. Kind of an overreaction.
4. Reaching The Limit
Before you head over to the expensive gift shop for a phone charger or anything like that, call front desk and ask if you can borrow one from lost and found. We have hundreds of iPhone chargers in those square milk crates.
If you’re going to drink at the bar, know your limits. I once got a call from a bartender saying he needed a wheelchair because a guest was so drunk he couldn’t stand. He wanted me to wheel this guy to his room. So I take the wheelchair up.
The drunk dude’s less drunk buddy helps him in, and I wheel him to the front desk to figure out what room this clown is staying in. As I’m talking to the front desk receptionist, this dummy attempts to stand up and face plants into the marble front desk counter.
Blood everywhere. I lost my patience and had the operator phone the emergency line for an ambulance and a patrol unit just in case. I gave him an ice pack and kept the area clear until help arrived. That stuff was gnarly. I also put the bartender in his place for not cutting that dude off four shots ago — greedy jerk was pushing for tips.
That’s one story. I’ve also had countless drunk ladies grab my crotch in the elevator while doing key assists. I regret not going through with a handful, but I was paranoid I’d get caught. Dummy.
3. Robotic Responses
Everything I can think of has been said except maybe this: There isn’t a single word that could come out of your mouth I haven’t heard before. There is no small talk you can start that I don’t have automated responses for.
2. No Eggin’ Way
I worked the night shift at a hotel for a few months. It was my job to prepare breakfast. I will never eat scrambled eggs at a hotel again unless I see the cook actually breaking the eggs. It’s disgusting how much food can just be bought en masse and prepared in under five minutes.
You wanna know how we made eggs? Ready-to-cook egg mix: just pour it into a pan and heat the ooze up. Five minutes later, you serve scrambled “eggs”. Looks disgusting. Doesn’t taste good, either. No, no, no.
1. Never Let Go
When your ship sinks, Leonardo DiCaprio will NOT cradle your dying hand and give you the floating piece. He’ll let you die just like everyone else. Let him drown.