After so many years in the biz, too many great stories not to share!

29 Nov

Hi I’m Richard and I’ve been an executive in the hotel biz for over 20 years. One of my hobbies has become collecting and sharing great behind the scene stories with my hotelier peers. I think you’ll find some of these startling, funny, sad and/or at the very least entertaining. I’m sure you have many of your own!

The first post at the bottom of the string below – “IT TAKES A THIEF” is rather on the long side but it defies all belief at the lengths a thief will go to steal!

Please consider adding to the collection with situations that you have experienced or may have heard about!  Through a collaborative effort this can be fun and create some pretty interesting leasure reading!  Also, kindly forward the blog address to acquaintences that might also contribute.  Thanks and enjoy!

-SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE-

Richard B Evans, CHA, CHAE, CRME

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“WEIGHT…THEIF!”

27 Nov

Waldorff Astoria Hotel NYC – approximately 25 years prior, the property manager was quietly smoking a cigarette by the loading dock at the Waldorf Astoria and observing.  The meat vendor backed his truck in.  The cart used to deliver meat from the truck to the kitchen was wheeled off the truck and weighed.  This cart was then pushed to the side and a different cart was used to roll the meat in.  The manager stepped forward and inquired about why the same cart that was just weighed was not being used to deliver the meat.  He found several 20 pound metal dumbbells soldered to the underside of the substitute cart!  Can you imagine the number of meat deliveries made to the Waldorf over the years and how much over billed weight this probably caused!?

“MEAT HEAD!?”

27 Nov

Waldorff Astoria Hotel NYC – approximately 25 years prior one of the head chefs at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC   (earning a 6 figure income) was walking past security as he was departing the property for the day.  It was a cold day and he was wearing a wool hat and as he waived to the guard, the guard saw that the chef’s head was bleeding badly.   The Chef attempted to waive the guard off and was reluctant to remove his hat.  Not to be deterred the guard pressed on.  Atop his head wrapped in plastic was a filet mignon!

ONE OF THE SADDEST STORIES OF MY HOTEL CAREER

12 Dec

flowers

This may be one of the all time saddest stories that I have encountered in my hotel career.

Upon arriving at the hotel each day I would always walk to the restaurant to serve myself a cup of coffee.

On this particular day as I reached the threshold of the door of the restaurant, the restaurant manager saw me coming in.  It was 5:30am and the restaurant was empty and Mary Anne shouted that I should go to my office and that she would bring me my coffee.  She began to move quickly to the kitchen and I “shouted” back that she should not run and I thanked her. 

I arrived at my office and several minutes later Mary Anne arrived with a tray and pitcher of coffee.   She was out of breath and I stopped her, thanking her for the assistance and told her that she never needed to run for me or anyone else and that I wish she wouldn’t.  She assured me she understood and then exited my office in the same manner she entered…. quickly.

I can’t be sure how many minutes passed, my office was down the hall from the PBX operator and I suddenly heard the operator frantically shouting Code Red in the dining area to the security department.  I quickly finished up my call and sprinted out to the restaurant.  In the distance I could see the security director in what seemed to be frozen state, in the middle of the dining room floor (still no one else in the restaurant) and I ran up to him and asked him what was wrong.

He could barely move and pointed to the far side of the restaurant.  Mary Anne had fallen back into a chair and was not moving.  I later learned that the security director was a good friend of hers and at first glance went into shock.   Mary Anne had had a heart condition and her heart failed.  We did all that we could to revive her but to no avail.  She passed away right there beside us. 

My life had been deeply effected by this tragedy and remember wondering, time and again to myself whether there was anything that I could have done differently that morning that would have effected this horrible fate.  Sadly I don’t believe there was.  Mary Anne was a wonderful women who I miss and think of till this day.  May she rest in peace.

TIS THE SEASON

30 Nov

Traditions like the ‘Housekeeping Olympics,’ which features blindfolded bedmaking and the ‘vacuum dash,’ and a $10,000 employee prize for best service keep this hotel operator from feeling like a big chain.”
Read more >
FORTUNE Magazine, February 2012 – KIMPTON HOTELS

Faud Kabrita – owner of the Ocean Sky Resort, Fort Lauderdale, FL made good on his promise to reward ALL staff once the hotel was in the black.  The GM  sat with department heads handing out holiday bonus checks of $1,000+ each to all those contributing to this success.  “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house” that holiday seasaon and he or it will never be forgotten.  RIP Mr. Kabrita.

THE OLD IATA SCAM

30 Nov

computer 2

This may be one of the older hotel scams in the books…. but for any of you that may not be aware it is still widely used…..

Usually the culprit is someone in a hotel Sales Department that has password clearence allowing them to enter new Travel Agents and their IATA numbers into the Property Management System (PMS).  Of course once that task is accomplished, any reservation that has that simple IATA number punched into the appropriate data field automatically creates a commission check.  It is usually pretty easy to go into most PMS systems, after a reservation has been made, and add an IATA number to an existing reservation.

The thief will formely create a company and use it to apply for travel agent credentials.  An IATA number is issued to the company.  Also, easy to do.

Commission checks are cut either in the properrties accounting department or by and indepenent service and a  typical hotel will produce hundreds of these checks each month.  This of course makes it harder to detect a “phony” agent.

The checks just start rolling in!  Usually not in big enough amounts to stand out.  But over years they can add up.

CORPSE UNDER THE BED?!

30 Nov
corpse
Admittedly, until a year ago I had not heard any of the hotel “corpse under the bed stories”…. but they’re out there!  Here’s a few if you click the prompt below…

GOOD PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE

29 Nov

June 12, 2010 –Housekeeper Jeanne Mydil did the right thing, and South Floridians are following her example.

Mydil’s bosses at Miami International Airport Hotel were happily overwhelmed Friday with an outpouring of phone calls and e-mails from good-hearted citizens eager to donate money to Mydil, who found $6,000 left behind by a missionary group while she was cleaning a room. She promptly turned it into her supervisor.

Friday, South Florida responded in kind.

One anonymous donor called the hotel and put a $6,000 donation on his credit card. Another dropped off $1,000 cash in an envelope and walked out without wanting a thank you.

Dozens of people called The Miami Herald saying they wanted to donate $20, $50 or $100. Many more said they dropped checks in the mail to the hotel.

By the end of the business day Friday, $7,535 had arrived at the hotel for Mydil.

At the time Mydil found the money, she did not realize it belonged to a missionary group from El Paso, Texas, headed to Haiti to help with earthquake relief.

Colleagues honored her Thursday as the Miami International Airport Employee of the Month.

Heidi Herzberger, the hotel controller, said the phone hadn’t stopped ringing Friday.

The ultimate shocker for Herzberger was when she received a call from the person who gave $6,000.

“I asked him how much he wanted to give, he told me $6,000 and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ ” Herzberger said. “Then he said it again. And there was silence. And he said, ‘Hellooo?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just fell off my chair.’ ”

Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.

GREAT HOTELIERS HAVE KINDNESS EMBEDDED IN THIER SOULS

29 Nov

This story is frequently told to be true. Whether true or not, it is certainly powerful.

A man and a young teenage boy checked in to a hotel and were shown to their room. The two receptionists noted the quiet manner of the guests, and the pale appearance of the boy. Later the man and boy ate dinner in the hotel restaurant. The staff again noticed that the two guests were very quiet, and that the boy seemed disinterested in his food. After eating, the boy went to his room and the man went to reception and asked to see the manager. The receptionist initially asked if there was a problem with the service or the room, and offered to fix things, but the man said that there was no problem of that sort, and repeated his request. The manager was called and duly appeared. The man asked to speak privately and was taken into the manager’s office.

The man explained that he was spending the night in the hotel with his fourteen-year-old son, who was seriously ill, probably terminally so. The boy was very soon to undergo therapy, which would cause him to lose his hair. They had come to the hotel to have a break together, and also because the boy planned to shave his head, that night, rather than feel that the illness was beating him. The father said that he would be shaving his own head too, in support of his son. He asked that staff be respectful when the two of them came to breakfast with their shaved heads. The manager assured the father that he would inform all staff and that they would behave appropriately.

The following morning the father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast.

There they saw the four male restaurant staff attending to their duties, perfectly normally, all with shaved heads.

STICKY FINGERS

29 Nov

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) – A southwest Missouri woman is going to prison for 21 months for stealing nearly $170,000 from a Springfield hotel where she worked.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says 47-year-old Janet Mosier, of Springfield, must also repay the stolen money under the sentence she received Thursday in federal court.

Mosier was the director of accounting services at Springfield University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. In a guilty plea earlier this year, Mosier admitted stealing from a petty cash account from 2003 through 2010.

Prosecutors said Mosier resident submitted receipts from her personal expenses and others she got from family members to support inflated reports of petty cash outlays.