Confessions of... the Travel Industry

Our veterans--including an airline executive, a hotel inspector, and a Vegas massage therapist--tell all.

What goes on behind the scenes in the travel industry? Read on to find out in the best "Confessions" we've heard.

Confessions Of... An Airline Executive
Our anonymous confessor has been in airline public relations, marketing, and customer relations for a decade now.

Delays and cancellations If flights are delayed or canceled, airlines usually promise to reimburse passengers only for immediate needs (such as meals, ground transportation, and lodging). Airlines will never pay claims for losses that are due to missed meetings or lost wages. If you make a big stink, however, we may provide tickets or discounts on future flights, as a gesture of goodwill.

Confessions Of... A Front-Desk Clerk
Anne Szeker was a front-desk clerk at a hotel in Shelton, Conn., from 2002 to 2004.

Third-party reservations Hotel managers can't stand it when guests reserve rooms through Expedia, Priceline, or any other booking engine, because after the Internet site takes its cut, the hotel barely makes a profit on the booking. As a result, guests who reserve directly with the hotel receive far better service. When things go wrong—we've run out of rooms with king-size beds, or the hotel is overbooked because some guests extended their stay—the manager's first question is, "Do we have any Internet reservations?" The folks who reserve through discount sites are at the bottom of the food chain. What you want to do is contact us directly and request the best price. I'm shocked when guests agree to the rack rate without a peep. The hotel is usually willing to give the discounted AAA or AARP membership price, even for guests who aren't members--so long as they book through the hotel, that is.

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Confessions Of... A Vegas Massage Therapist
Our anonymous confessor has been a massage therapist for six years, including the past three at a spa inside a premier hotel in Las Vegas.

A spa is not a "massage parlor" The most common question massage therapists get asked is whether we are propositioned. Being a professional, I usually give a vague answer and move on. The truth is, it happens all the time. Las Vegas is a place where people feel they can disregard boundaries, but if you get a massage in a spa at a major hotel, rest assured your therapist is not a prostitute. The insinuation is a huge insult. That hasn't stopped people from making offers ("I'll give you $100 to finish me off"), exposing or even touching themselves, or grabbing me. If you do anything along these lines, realize that everyone on the hotel staff will know about it before you've left the spa, that your massage will come to an abrupt, unhappy ending—and yes, you will pay for the full hour!

Confessions Of... A Baggage Handler
Tim Cigelske was a baggage handler for a major airline in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2007.

Luggage left behind Check in at least 30 minutes before the flight. Any later than that and your bag will probably miss the plane. Sympathetic ticket agents sometimes call and ask us to swing back and pick up late bags, so you might want to beg them for help. Most times, bags are delayed or lost for other reasons. There was one day when a delayed flight meant that we had two departures at the same time to the same city, and I loaded an entire cart of bags onto the wrong plane. Another day, we loaded so many bags of golf clubs bound for Myrtle Beach that the plane ran out of storage and we had to hold 10 bags. And sometimes there's no explanation: Miscommunication is easy when everyone's wearing hearing protection and shouting over jet engines.

Confessions Of... A B&B Owner
Our anonymous confessor has run two B&Bs over the past decade, first in Milwaukee, and, for four years now, in Wilmington, N.C.

Bedroom secrets Before we come to clean your room, please put your fur handcuffs away—far away, preferably in the bottom of your suitcase. We don't ever want to see them. Same goes for used contraceptive devices, oils, "toys," and certain rise-to-the-occasion medications. We once hosted a couple on their honeymoon. Each day, I'd find souvenirs from the night before, including feathered nighties, lotions, and a timer (I have no idea, either). On days like that, I think about changing careers to a widget-maker or dog walker—night shift, of course.

Confessions Of... A Time-Share Salesperson
Lisa Ann Schreier was a time-share salesperson and manager in Orlando for six years.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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