Hotel Guest Etiquette Mistakes, According to a Hotel Manager

If you’re a guest in a hotel, it’s considered common courtesy to treat fellow guests with respect and express gratitude to the hotel staff who strive to make your stay a five-star experience. But when you’re in vacation mode, there are occasional lapses in etiquette, including unexpected, rude behaviors that are easy to overlook. So, how exactly can guests prevent these behaviors and ensure a smooth and pleasant experience for all involved? Here Kevin Gilbert, hotel manager at boutique hotel Senna House in Scottsdale, Arizona, shares some of his wisdom after 19 years in the hospitality industry.

Common hotel guest etiquette mistakes, according to a hotel manager

1. Checking-in early or checking-out late without advanced notice

Early check-ins happen. Whether a guest planned to arrive before the expected check-in time or not, Gilbert says advanced notice is appreciated—ideally, a day before arrival, or at the very least, as soon as possible. Similarly, guests might want to give a heads-up if they plan on checking out late, even if it’s only the morning of their departure date. Gilbert explains that housekeeping requires adequate time to clean the rooms between guest stays, and this can be put off in the event of a late checkout.

If you’ve ever been an early comer or a late goer, you probably know that a hotel will do their best to accommodate you but the possibility of fulfilling this promise isn’t always possible. “In the worst-case scenario, we can offer to store their bags for them until they check in or after they check out,” he says. When this happens, a little understanding is appreciated from the guest, but Gilbert says that there are instances in which there is an expectation for accommodation.

“Some people just who show up early expect to get the room at 11 o’clock in the morning versus the agreed-upon time,” he says, which can lead to unnecessary stress for hotel staff who are trying to cater to the flow of many guests.

2. Ignoring “quiet time”

“A lot of hotels have something called ‘quiet time,’” says Gilbert, which he adds, is typically observed between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., when hotel guests are asked to keep the volume down. Some noise is to be expected, he says, but if it can be helped, guests are encouraged to respect quiet time in communal areas, like the elevator, or even in their room by avoiding loud music or hosting parties after hours.

Observing quiet time will prevent any guests from making late-night complaints to the hotel staff. Not only that, but Gilbert says that it is a common courtesy that a guest can show other vacationers at the hotel—and by being mindful of others, it makes a “good hotel experience for everyone.”

3. Questioning the hotel incidental charges

Many hotels charge for incidentals, exclusive of what you pay for your room. Typically, your incidental charge will be refunded to your card in full if you haven’t availed of, say, room service or snacks from the mini bar. Gilbert says this is typically spelled out for guests upon confirming their reservation. However, “a lot of guests are often unaware that authorization would take place.”

While easy to overlook, Gilbert says it’s all too common to receive calls from hotel guests asking why the hotel is still holding their money—and many people get upset. However, at this point, it’s often out of the hotel’s hands because it’s the bank that’s responsible for processing the transaction. He adds that things get even more heated when guests charge the incidentals on their debit card as “the bank holds that money for five to seven business days.”

All that is to say, Gilbert encourages hotel guests to be aware of what the hotel is charging them, be it incidentals or additional fees—and, if they’re unsure of something, to ask the hotel staff for clarification to prevent miscommunication.

4. Overlooking the power of “please” and “thank you”

If you’re going to be a guest at a hotel, don’t forget to say please and thank-you—a small gesture that can go a long way for hotel staff. “Employees really love to hear ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ or ‘you did a great job,’” says Gilbert, adding that “if people are polite, things seem to run a little better.” While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to show your appreciation for all the staff’s hard work with a tip.

Gilbert says there’s no one way to tip, but he’s come up with his own set of rules as a hotel guest. He generally extends his gratitude to the bartenders and waitstaff, valets, and housekeeping. When tipping the bartender or waitstaff, he adheres to the standard 20 percent tip rule. For valets, he tips $5 when he picks up his car. As for housekeeping, he tips $2 for every day of his stay at the hotel—and rather than leave it in the hotel room, he gives it to the front desk in an envelope so the housekeeper is sure to receive it.

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