TODAY   |  May 06, 2013

Behind-the-scenes hotel secrets

Three editors of Conde Nast Traveler – Klara Glowczewska, Lisa Gill, and Wendy Perrin – decided to get firsthand experience of what goes on behind the scenes at hotels by stepping into the shoes of a housekeeper, a front desk clerk and a booking agent. They talk about their experiences.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> front desk clerk and cruise tour booking agent to get a look at how they run their operations. lisa gill contributing editor and wendy perron consumer news editor. claire, what was the point of the exercise?

>> as travel editors we're always interested in what makes a great travel experience, and in our may issue we have 154 best hotels in the world so we thought we want to take a close look at the people who are back stage who really sort of make these travel dreams come true.

>> let's begin with the job you took on housekeeper at waldorf astoria in chicago. what did you find?

>> they work hard. i feltike i had been at the gym doi ining lunges and pull-downs all day. the key thing is the bed. you've got to get the bed right. it's the hardest thing they do and the thing that most affects the look of the room.

>> i was interested to describe how they personalize it to whoever is staying in the room, what side of the bed you're staying on or bathroom habits. this he look closely at the behavior of the people.

>> the housekeeper isn't just responsible for keeping the room clean. she has to be the eyes and ears of the hotel , what side of the bed, use shower gel or soap, what do you take out of the mini bar , what temperature do you like so the next time you come back your room is exactly like you want it.

>> one other thing you mention what i think is important is tipping a housekeeper. lot of people don't think because there's no face-to-face interaction.

>> they are the invisible people at the hotel and they're so responsible for how you feel. imagine finding a hair in the bathroom stall, you wouldn't want to go back to that hotel . these ladies make that happen, so important to tip them.

>> lisa , you took on front desk clerk at the st. regis bell harbor in miami.

>> yes.

>> what was that like? someuests can be difficult, some better than others. what was it like for you?

>> it was funny, after having checked in hundreds of hotels this is a simple job but it's complicated, not only do they have a lot of interaction with the guests but also they serve as the central nervous system of the actual hotel so other staff in the hotel return to them for a lot of information. it's interesting, they're basically playing a game of matching the entire time. the woman i was blocking, whitney, she was blocking rooms the whole time and it's interesting to see how much power they have as to what room they assign you.

>> they are controlling this big puzzle you described. if i'm a guest and i want to upgrade or an early checkout what is the best approach?

>> those are the two things people request almost always when i was there witnessing it. you know, you pay to play a bit so the more money you pay to stay at the hotel the better your chances are in general, so saying being an elite status member of the hotel 's loyalty policeman, playing not a promotional rate and also being a repeat guest always helps, being nice never hurts, it always helps you because they do choose who to bestow upgrades. there's always upgrades to be had.

>> sometimes having a smile on your face and being polite goes a long way. wendy , yours is different than the others, working for royal caribbean on a cruise ship as the excursions director. is that what they call it?

>> the cruise is a floating hotel and i was there to sell shore tours because when the ship stops in port everybody wants to get off and do their activities for the day.

>> what did you find doing that job? what tips can you give people on cruises?

>> do your reserve aboarch about the ports. you realize what ports you're stopping at and if you haven't done research to know how you want to spend your time in port you're not going to get a whole lot of answers going to the shore excursions desk because they're there to sell the tours. i mean i had to bite my tongue when people asked mehat's the best beach in jamaica or where should i go snorkeling in grand cayman i had to point them toward the ship's tours.

>> good tips, wendy , lisa , claire, a little look behind the curtain thank you.