Last night, for the first time, I tipped a clerk at the front desk of my hotel.
I was going to be booted out in the morning because the hotel was all booked up. I needed to stay an extra day, but there were no rooms available. So I went on the Internet in search of some assistance and support. I typed in “how to get a room in a fully booked hotel” and learned that if you find a helpful clerk, it’s important to show your appreciation with a tip. I had no idea! Now I know and I like being in the know.
Wouldn’t it be great not to have to schlep my stuff twenty minutes down the road to the next look-alike hotel in the chain? Armed with this new information, I marched to the front desk and politely asked the young male clerk with the nerdy glasses if any incoming guests had cancelled.
“No, not yet,” he replied. “Keep checking back.”
Courteous? Yes. Useful, no. The hotel was clearly packed, but aren’t these front desk people supposed to be clued-up or clued- in? This was not exceptional service. My tip stayed in my pocket.
That evening, much to my joy, he was not still at the front desk—he’d been replaced by a friendly young woman with hipster black-rimmed glasses. Up to the desk I went again, pasting on my best confident smile. “Did any rooms open up for tomorrow night?” I asked her. “I’ve been hoping and hoping.”
“No,” she said, smiling, and reached for what appeared to be a hotel register. “What’s your room number and name? I’ll write it down.”
Bingo! I knew that I had made a connection. She actually gave a dam and had taken down my information, so I could put new tipping training to the test. The Internet article said to give between five to twenty bucks. This wasn’t New York City, so I handed over a nicely folded ten. She took it happily but with no surprise. As I walked away, I was kind of wishing that I had given her five bucks instead, because what if she didn’t score me a room? But the risk, I decided, was worth it.
All these years, I had known about tipping the bellhops, the housekeepers, and valets when I stayed at a hotel, but this new trick of tipping at the front desk had me returning to my room hopeful.
The next morning, when I woke up I turned over, crossed my fingers, and dialed the front desk.
“Good morning,” said a chipper voice. “May I help you?”
When I asked if a room had opened up, the desk clerk replied quickly with enthusiasm. “Yes, we have a room for you and you don’t even have to move. Just come down when you get a moment to get rekeyed.”
“Hallelujah, hallelujah! Figaro!” I sang as I jumped out of bed.
While I peacefully drank my coffee in the hotel lobby, I thought, Wow, this is so much better than packing up the toothpaste, wheeling my suitcase over my foot and then grunting as I lifted my things into the trunk of my car. That was definitely the best ten bucks I had spent in a long time.