Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Heads in Beds
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Published: November 20, 2012
Genre: memoir
eBook: approx. 256 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know. 

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.

Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

My Thoughts: As someone who works in the hospitality industry (I'm a restaurant manager), I'm always looking for a good memoir detailing someone's life in the hospitality industry. Since I deal with crazy guests all day, I like to read someone else's funny guest stories. It helps me to know that I'm not alone in the service industry. So, when Jacob Tomsky's book came out, I knew that I would have to read it. Chronicling his time in a hotel in New Orleans and then New York City, Tomsky tells you all about working front desk in a hotel. He began his journey in the hospitality industry after graduating from college with no job prospects and looking for some easy money while he looked for work elsewhere. Little did he know that he would become hooked in the service industry for much longer than he would like.

My only problem with this book was that Tomsky made it sound like he has worked in a variety of cities and positions, spanning decades (well, at least one decade). Instead, this book focuses on the two properties that he worked at and how you can get free stuff out of these hotels or get free upgrades. It was basically a book with his stories interspersed with how to take advantage of hotels. As someone who works in the service industry, I hate people who walk into a place trying to get as many freebies as possible. Afterall, these places are businesses, places that have the goal of making money. When you come in and nickel and dime everything out of the place, it's not only annoying to the staff, but you can guarantee that you will get the worst service possible. To Mr. Tomsky, I would like to say this: just tell people to not be mean, to be kind to the people working in these places of hospitality. They are human beings, they are not slaves, and they are not meant to be screamed at. I feel like he should have preached that more than how to get free movies and stuff from the mini-bar (also, the nicer you are to the people working in these establishments, the better service you will receive, and the more likely they are to pass along freebies to you.) 

I enjoyed this book because it did make me laugh at several points and brought a smile to my face. If you are looking for a memoir that will make you laugh and give you a peek inside the hospitality industry, then you should check this book out. While I hope that you don't go out and seek the freebies that Tomsky loves to talk about, it does give you some ideas to what you should look out for in hotel properties.

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