I am always very polite and respectful to hotel porters, and a good tipper as well. But some porters really don’t want to be there, and delight in being difficult, and sometime rude as well. Here is the story of my encounter with a difficult porter at a prestigious London hotel. I hasten to add that it did take place quite a while ago.
In 4-star hotels there are generally porters, but if you are a group they have to be pre-booked for a particular time of arrival. I learnt this lesson on my first tour with just 6 passengers when we arrived at Baileys Hotel, the lovely traditional superior 4-star hotel at South Kensington, London.
I pulled up outside the hotel with the minibus, and went inside where there was a porter standing doing nothing in reception. When I asked politely for assistance with the bags, he asked if I had pre-booked porterage. That stopped me! No I hadn’t because it was such a small group – not really a group at that number. He then informed me that he could not assist as we had not pre-booked the porterage. When I pointed out that he was not doing anything, he still declined to assist. My blood boiled!
After obtaining the room keys from reception, I carried each case up the half a dozen stairs into the small lobby, and lined them all up. I then found a large luggage trolley and loaded the bags onto it. It was going to take 2 trips so I left some of my passengers watching the bags whilst we wheeled in the first lot, with passengers accompanying, to their rooms.
Back to the lobby, and the porter was still standing, hands behind back, by now looking very uncomfortable. I was making a great display of loading the bags (overacting) in the small lobby, with bemused passing guests looking at me and then him, and wondering why he wasn’t doing the work. One couple suggested that I should be using the porter, but I told them in a loud voice that he had declined to help as he was busy. I could be accused of grandstanding, but by now I was hot, tired and really p…..d off. But I got my own back.
Next morning I was having breakfast in the dining room with the GM who was seeking more business from me, so I related what had happened on arrival. He was appalled, embarrassed, and offered several apologies. He would seek out the staff member and severely reprimand him.
The offending porter could be seen through the doors of the dining room, so I said, “That’s easy. There he is out there”, and I pointed to him, much to his dismay. Did I feel bad about his getting into trouble? Not really. The funny part is that I am a good tipper of helpful porters, so not only did he miss out on some good cash in the hand, but got a kick in the pants as well.
This tale is just one of many from my best selling book The Toast Is Cold where I relate what happened during the 90s with my highly acclaimed UK group tours. You can purchase this book for just $3.99 here.
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Mike Tonkin …
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So interesting and funny too.. !!
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