by Susan on January 4, 2014

I used to have a boss who would say, ironically, “If it wasn’t for all these annoying customers I could get some work done.”Ha.

Here are three of the customers that every hotelier has met.

Get Out of Work Free: M. called me on a Thursday afternoon. She worked in the office building next door and wanted a tour of the hotel for some “future events” she was planning. We went on the longest site in history, and I asked her about her business. She hemmed and hawed, then finally asked if we had a New Year’s Eve package. She turned to me and said, in what had to have been her most sincere voice, “I really hope you can give me a good rate. This hotel is so smoothing. It’s just – the colors – they’re just so smoothing.” Yep, not a typo, she said smoothing instead of soothing. And did not book any business.

Two Martini Lunch: A. was a long-term association meeting planner.  She had a great piece of business and a great personality.  And a great BIG appetite for the booze!  The first time I had lunch with her, the waiter brought the wine list and asked, sort of in jest, if we wanted wine with lunch.  I laughed and quickly said no.  When I glanced over at A., the look on her face made it clear that I had made a major faux pas and should have ordered some vino.  Oops.  The next time I saw her was at the hair salon, where she was happily guzzling glass after glass of champagne, at, like, 10am.  As it turns out, some clients really are just in it for the free booze.

Giant Jerkwad: P. represented one of my most important clients as a third-party meeting planner.  His role was to negotiate contracts so that his clients got the best deal possible.  Usually in those situations, you go back and forth, round and round, with each side giving up a bit of what they wanted in order to reach a compromise deal that everyone could live with.  Not so in P.’s case.  Quid pro quo?  Never heard of it!  Every conversation ended like this: “Well, I guess I’ll just have to take the business elsewhere if you won’t give me free this/free that/the moon and stars.”  Ugh.  Of course, I did what all great negotiators do – totally caved.  He wore me down with his constant whining and begging and threatening to flounce.  Let that be a lesson to you, third-parties.  The more of a giant jerkwad you are, the more you’ll get, because hotel people are too busy to sit on the phone fighting with you.

Question: What are some other typical customers that I haven’t mentioned here?  How do you avoid getting taken for a ride by someone pretending that they have business or trying to milk you for as many martinis as possible?


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