Undercover at hotels and on cruise ships

For the May issue, the editors of "Condé Nast Traveler"not only picked the best new hotels in the world, but they were also sent out to work the jobs of the people who make travel possible—housekeepers, cruise excursion pros, desk clerks, and more. "Condé Nast Traveler" Editor in Chief Klara Glowczewska, Contributing Editor Lisa Gill, and Consumer News Director Wendy Perrin went on the TODAYshow this morning to talk about what they learned on the job. Here are a few of their top tips and takeaways:

Appreciate your housekeepers

At The Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Editor in Chief Klara Glowczewska spent an eight-hour shift scrubbing tubs and fluffing pillows with Brandy, a housekeeper at the hotel. What she learned: It's a workout to clean rooms to the Waldorf's exacting standards.

The bathroom is the trickiest part. The best thing to do is just spray it all with cleaner, turn on all the hot water in the tub and the sink, close the door to let it steam up, and come back in and wipe it down. It is kind of like a germ apocalypse but it gets the job done.

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Make friends with the front desk clerks

Contributing Editor Lisa Gill worked as a front desk clerk at the St Regis Bal Harbor in Miami. Her big lesson: Front desk agents have a lot of leeway in what room they assign, and what extra in-room amenities they can send to a guest. Everyone asks for an upgrade and for late check out. If you aren’t asking for these already, you should start.

Here’s what improves your chances: Asking nicely always helps. If you act entitled, you are much less likely to get what you want!

Research your own cruise excursions beforehand

Consumer News Director Wendy Perrin spent time on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, working the shore excursions desks for trips a Grand Cayman Bike Tour Excursion, or the Cozumel Sea Turtle Snorkel excursion.

Her advice: If a shore-excursions-desk staffer recommends a tour, ask whether he or she has personally taken it. If not, ask to speak with a staffer who has.

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