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To Say This Is Infuriating Would Not Be Overselling It

, , , , , | Working | May 12, 2021

A few years ago, I was the assistant front desk manager at a hotel. This story is one of the reasons I left that position after a year and went back to a front desk agent.

I had been watching a particular date on our forecast calendar nervously for a while; we were incredibly oversold. We had 200 rooms in the hotel, and on this day we had 250 rooms booked. Our sales team had booked in several groups on the same day, which was what caused the oversell. It was clearly a massive problem, but whenever I brought it up I was told not to worry about it and it would work out.

Well. It did not.

The day arrived, and while we had had a few cancellations, we were still oversold by somewhere around 20%. It was not going to be a fun day.

The logical thing to do would be to pick a group consisting of approximately the size we were oversold by, apologize profusely, and relocate them all to another hotel. The problem with that was that no one in sales was willing to authorize the front desk to relocate their group. They kept telling us to walk the transient guests — guests not connected to any group and arriving individually — and could not comprehend us when we told them that there were no transient guests because they had sold out the hotel so thoroughly and so far ahead of time that no transient bookings had been made.

As check-in time loomed, I finally put my foot down and told the sales lead that there were two options, and we had to pick one of them now.

Option A: We walk [Group #1]. They were regular business for us, but because they were regular business, they were also predictable. I knew they were laid back and really it didn’t matter to the actual guests that much precisely where they were staying, as they were factory workers there for training. They really just wanted a place to sleep, and since they all arrived together, it would only take one phone call and their coordinator would be able to redirect them all at once. They were also, coincidentally, nearly the exact number of reservations we were oversold by.

Option B: We walk [Group #2] and [Group #3]. While this option would get us the number of rooms we needed, it would be extremely inconvenient for the guests. Both groups were here for a conference in our hotel, so they would have to shuttle back and forth from wherever we moved them. They also were a disparate group all arriving separately, so we would have to call each and every guest, hope they picked up, and explain the issue to each one of them individually.

Obviously, I was campaigning hard for Option A. But the problem was… [Group #1] was the sales lead’s group. She told me, point-blank, that we were not going to walk her group and flounced out of my office. So, I got down to the very, very unpleasant task of relocating [Group #2] and [Group #3]. It sucked. I got screamed at, called every name in the book, told I was going to be personally sued, the whole shebang. Oh, and of course sales refused to call their group contacts, so those two phone calls were extra fun.

I got the whole mess taken care of. It took hours. I hated my entire life.

Then, well after check-in time had passed, the sales lead flounced back in and told me that, well, if we had to, she guessed we could walk [Group #1]. I am still shocked to this day that I didn’t strangle her.

I wish I had a satisfying close to this story, but not only did sales not face any repercussions for this, but when they heard from their groups that the front desk had told them that it was their department’s fault we were oversold, the sales lead called my manager to scream at him for having her contacts angry at her.

And the hotel was oversold in the exact same way a month later.

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