Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. However, sometimes I don’t know where to stay when I travel.
So, I sat down with with Lexi Salloum, a hospitality veteran who gave me an inside look at what it is like to work in the hospitality industry and where it is best place to book reservation.
How did you get involved with the hospitality industry?
My dad has been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, so hospitality is something I have known my whole life. Growing up, I always loved visiting him at his hotel, hearing about his work, and staying at nice hotels when we went on vacation. My dad is one of the hardest working people I know, and I have always looked up to him for that. I ended up switching my major from Marketing to Hospitality and following in his footsteps.
Why is it better to book with the hotel or brand directly versus a 3rd party?
Booking direct is better than booking through a third party for many reasons. Most third party bookings are advanced deposits and therefore non-refundable, which can be a problem if your plans change last minute. That also means if you have to check out a day early, you will most likely still be charged for the full length of stay you booked. If you are a member of Marriott Rewards, you cannot receive credit for a stay that is not booked directly through Marriott. The front desk is also not able to upgrade/modify your reservation in anyway, so even if I have an upgrade available, I am not able to process it. Generally, booking direct also will land you the lowest rate.
How can someone receive an upgrade?
At a Marriott hotel, the best way to receive an upgrade is being a member of Marriott Rewards. Marriott Rewards is a tiered loyalty program for frequent Marriott guests where guests receive points/status for each stay at a Marriott hotel. The tiers are Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Platinum Premier Elite, and Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador. The higher the tier, the more likely you are to receive a complimentary upgrade as a perk for being a loyal guest. Another way to receive an upgrade from me is to honestly just ask! If I have an upgrade available and you are a nice person, I’m very likely to give it to you! I’m in the business of making people happy!
What are some misconceptions of a front desk agent?
I don’t think people realize exactly how much goes into being a front desk agent. I think a misconception is front desk agents just stand there, hand the guests keys, and check them out when it’s time for them to leave. In reality, front desk agents are usually juggling multiple things at once— answering phone calls, running reports, greeting every person that walks by, answering questions, giving directions, dealing with problems/complaints, checking guests in and giving the same quality of service/enthusiasm to the 50th guest as you did the 1st. As with most jobs, people don’t realize all that goes into it.
How is your job impactful?
On any given day, I get to interact with upwards of 100+ people that I have never met before. It is my job to make each and every one of them feel welcome, important, and comfortable in a city that could be thousands of miles away from their homes. Whether someone is staying at my hotel just for one night for a work meeting or several months while they have to rebuild their lives after a house fire, I always try to make an impactful connection with my guests. It doesn’t have to be life changing— sometimes being greeted by a genuine, smiling face after a long day of travel can be the highlight of your day. Being welcomed back by name can make a guest feel at home. As a supervisor, I make sure my team shares the same attitude when interacting with guests.
I certainly know how I am going to book my next hotel stay. (Also, Marriotts for life!)
If you are ever in the Chicago area, go stay at the Residence Inn Downtown Loop and visit Lexi!
Comment below your favorite hotels!