It Never Hurts to Ask

it never hurts to ask + travelIt slightly pains me to write this post because I strongly dislike asking for things, but if I've learned anything in my travels (for my travels) it's that sometimes you need to speak up--gently and cordially of course! After reading a Wall Street Journal article written about a hotel executive on how to get good service in a hotel, something in it struck me and inspired me to write this post---especially as a used-to-be-timid-but-becoming-assertive traveler.

This hotel executive, the global brand leader at St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, said "It never hurts to ask if you have a special need in mind while checking in, whether it's a specific view, a larger sofa, a mini refrigerator (not all hotels provide them), or a room on the executive floor. It's surprising how much a hotel generally can do and can provide for you once you get there."  All this coming from someone in the industry!

Take-Aways Here are some of my best practices for asking from the referenced article, as well as my personal experience at hotels or with Airlines. Hopefully these will help next time you ask for...

  1. Hotels {almost} expect you to ask. The article points to hotels often being capable of handling specific requests, so why not try, they have the expertise to help with your request, especially if you're a loyal customer.
  2. Do so with grace and class. I firmly believe in the The Power of Nice a book which nicely packages my philosophy on how to interact with people, clients and coworkers. Hotel and airline staff are human too and appreciate it when a question or request is made kindly.  Case in point: last friday at Disneyland, the Blue Bayou restaurant was fully booked, but when I inquired at the right time about getting a table---and was really nice about it---the host conceded. As we waited, I saw her turn away over 10 people who didn't ask as nicely!
  3. It doesn't hurt to try. When checking into the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in early July, the front desk agent was going to put us in a standard room, but when I kindly asked him about the hotel's occupancy and suggested an upgrade given our loyalty to Fairmont, he put us in an incredible room overlooking the Parliament Buildings on one side and Rideau river on the other.
  4. Make a personal connection. Boomers are really good at making connections with travel industry folk. I've watched it happen right in front of my eyes more times than I can count. Their conversational nature seems to comfort and disarm the hotel or airline staff they are dealing with, making them much more likely to get a yes, to whatever question they ask--even if it's a little over the top.
  5. Always give a reason why you're asking. Although too much information (TMI) is overkill, providing a breif explanation for your request sometimes does the math for the person to whom you're making a request.
  6. Look the part. This one is almost self-explanatory, but if you want something, dress for success!
  7. Properly acknowledge those who helped you. If you've made a few requests to a hotel's concierge, consider leaving them a tip the day-of or upon departure.  In addition to a simple thank you, this will confirm your gratefulness for their assistance.

[photo by citta-vita]