My Single Biggest Hotel Check-In Pet Peeve

Filed Under: Hotels

Let me start by saying there are real problems in the world, and this ain’t one of them. 😉

Rather, this is one of those things that I notice all too often, which seems like such an easy opportunity to make a guest feel more welcome.

Yesterday a friend and I were checking into an Andaz property. We’ve both stayed at the property several times before. And we had two different — but equally incompetent — check-in experiences.


Maybe two minutes into the check-in experience, the associate asked me “have you stayed with us before?” Now, hotel chains have incredibly powerful databases which store quite a bit of guest information. The most simple thing they store is whether a guest has stayed at your hotel before or not.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t something that makes me angry, but rather it just leaves me shaking my head. When this happens I’m always tempted to respond “I’ve stayed here several times before… did you bother looking in the computer?”

Meanwhile my friend — who has stayed at this property more often than I have — wasn’t welcomed back as a new or returning guest, but rather the associate automatically recapped all of the hotel’s amenities for her, as you’d do for a first time guest.

Since I’m often accused of complaining without providing a better solution, let me say how it should be approached. If you’re a repeat guest, you should be greeted with “Welcome back, _____. It’s nice to have you staying with us again. If you need me to go over any of the hotel’s features, please do let me know.”

Heck, I was greeted as a returning guest at the Park Hyatt Seoul a few weeks ago, where I hadn’t previously stayed in over four years. And the way they went about it was brilliant: “Mr. Schlappig, welcome back. Since you haven’t been our guest in four years, let me remind you of some of the features of the hotel.”

That’s how you do it!

Bottom line

I find it so funny that hotels are working on these “2.0” loyalty programs, whereby they want to customize stays even further based on guest preferences. How on earth are they supposed to do that when they can’t even acknowledge that a guest has stayed with them before?

So yeah, that’s probably my single biggest pet peeve at check-in, simply because it’s such a lazy thing to screw up.

What about you? Does this tick you off as much as it ticks me off, or what are your hotel check-in pet peeves?

  1. I had checked into a Marriott I go to every 4 weeks (for the last 2 years!) on Monday, checked out Tuesday, checked back in Wednesday…by the same desk clerk. On Wednesday, got the same song and dance about the amenities! My second pet peeve is being asked how many keys I would like. Why? Because it takes SO much longer to make two keys than one? Because they are so expensive, they need to only give one in case I take it home? Why, I ask?!!!!

  2. I always hate it when they say things like “Sir, you don’t have a reservation, and quit offering me a bribe of 3 dollars for a free room.”

  3. Funny, when I have a reservation at a Hilton or Starwood, they have my Loyalty number. I always get thanked for being a Gold (in both programs), thanked for returning, and have my upgrade ready. This just happened at the Beijing Airport Hilton, when I checked in at 1:30 AM, had a suite ready for me with the welcome chocolates, even though I would be checking out only 7 hours later.

    DL flight attendants always thank me for my continuing business (DM), and are sure to take extra special good care of me.

  4. Not at the check-in per se, but mine is that so many hotels have stopped putting top-sheets (counterpanes) on the bed, instead leaving just a duvet that likely is not cleaned after every guest and leaves you either sweltering or frigid as you put it on or off during the night.

    When I was in the UK and asked for a top sheet they said “oh, you mean American style” very snootily, but a Park Hyatt in DC did the same thing two weeks later. At least they didn’t say “oh, you want British style?”

  5. Last week I checked into a RI in the LA area… She didn’t recognize my status at all, but barked “you want points?” I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about… then I realized she was talking about the platinum amenity.

  6. Usually traveling for work, someone else books our hotel rooms for us, so I can’t give my loyalty number till I get there. Anyway, recently I booked a hotel with some friends in the city and when I got there I handed the front desk lady my Hilton Gold card (as I usually do since I am used to doing it for business trips and they don’t have my number yet) and she got really snotty with me (I am sure I am over exaggerating in my head, but I thought it was a bit uncalled for) saying, “I already have your membership number, I don’t need your card.” And threw it on the counter. While all of this is a “first world problem” it just left a sour taste in my mouth with that particular Hilton in that city. Every other Hilton I have stayed at has always been fine, though.

  7. My peeve is the pseudo elite check in lines at Hyatt properties. They do not have to make this a benefit, but if they are going to establish the expectation, they need to provide more than a tiny sign at an often unmanned station at the check in guest.

    I seldom “use” this benefit because Hyatt “delivers” it in a way that were I to use it, I would feel a bit boorish. I simply cannot bring myself to cut in a general line or park myself at an unmanned elite check in station.

    No one in the hospitality industry should create an anticipation of a benefit when they are not prepared to deliver it in a way that the guest feels comfortable.

  8. Definitely a first world problem but I stayed at an SPG Luxury Collection property just about every week for 8 months and would still get asked if I’d have ever been there before even though I was booked out for months, not to mention would be holding a luggage tag in my hand… ridiculous

  9. I told you before that I am pretty sure Hyatt has hired someone from Delta to work in their loyalty department. It will only go downhill from here.

  10. My biggest pet peeve is when the associate isn’t aware of the loyalty program benefits. To me, having to make a minor scene just to get what I am explicitly entitled to is the most annoying part of hotels.

  11. I had the reverse when staying at a Hilton. I had Gold status through a promo they were running – but first time i had stayed at a Hilton ever let alone this particular Hotel.

    Was greeted with something along the lines of welcome back and thanks for choosing to stay with us again, we appreciate your loyalty to the Hilton Brand..

    Found it quite amusing, but it certainly was welcoming! The front desk staff were great – even remembered me two days later when i had to make a late night dash to the front desk after managing to lock myself out haha!

  12. My boss lives in Vegas so I fly out a couple of times a year and always stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Unfailing, I am warmly greeted by name by the valet as I step out of the car. In the lobby, I am met at the elevator (the lobby is on the 23rd floor) with a greeting and a handshake by someone from the front desk. I am then escorted to the front desk where I receive a chorus of “welcome backs” from the concierge staff.

    It’s such an amazing, beautiful hotel.

  13. Is this your biggest hotel pet peeve or when the associate tells you that they have given you a complimentary upgrade to a room that you actually paid for?? I would think the latter would bother me more.

  14. I understand that this is a “missed opportunity” to show some individualized attention. And as I read the post, I think that’s what you’re really saying. Your headline about “biggest hotel check in pet peeve” seems a bit over the top. If that’s really the most annoying thing that happens to you at check in, you really are “Lucky.”

  15. @ elteetrav — A “pet peeve” is by definition a minor annoyance, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

  16. @ Luis — Ah, that one! Yup, that one might suck even more. Though perhaps that’s not a pet peeve, as it really DOES piss me off.

  17. +1 OzzieDollar! I don’t mean to hi-jack the post, but what the hell is it with the lack of a top-sheet? It’s happening everywhere (well, Venice, Barcelona, London and all over U.S., not to mention Holland America ships). The cruise line is happy to “add a sheet”, but it feels like I’m being picky when I ask at a hotel for just a night or two. Maybe if enough of us complain they will go back to top sheets as standard. Or, at a minimum, add this to the list of preferences they always want us to complete. I care a lot more about having a sheet on my bed than what kind of pillows are on my bed or what floor my room is on. Sheet fans unite! (Oh, and I do agree with the point of the post as well.)

  18. I have to say I don’t agree on top sheets. If there’s a top sheet it’s very hard not to touch the duvet, which likely isn’t washed between guests. But if there’s no top sheet they have to wash the duvet each time, surely. But if the room is overheated, like it usually is, it is good to be able to sleep with just the sheet…

  19. I have in all of my profiles “quiet room, away from elevators” and yet am often assigned the room next to the elevator anyway that I then need to get reassigned. Why bother filling out profiles if they don’t use the info? Every time I stay in Philly, I get a “welcome to Philly” greeting, um…I live here, it’s in my hotel profile, folks!

  20. My pet peeve is that with all the sophistication of the systems some hotels can’t seem to keep track of my gender! Even though I have been checked in by a human, calls to the front desk or room service are answered by addressing me as Mr. A even though my first name is Christine. Happened again last week at a Renaissance and I am a Marriott Plat.

    OTOH, about 10 years ago I was staying at a Hampton Inn nearly every week when they changed out the bedside clocks. When I complained about the new ones, the front desk set aside one of the old clocks and kept it at the front desk with a note that it was to be given to me each time I checked in. Now THAT is personalized service!!

  21. A bit off topic but in similar context whenever I fly emirates as I enter the aircraft the pursers standing at the door always say Welcome Back! I find that really nice personal and impressive.

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