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165 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Just The Beginning
The title is funny, but it's just the beginning of this factual, entertaining, and even informative look at the hospitality industry.
Jacob Tomsky graduated from college with a philosophy degree and a college loan. Without really intending to pursue a service career, he initially took a job in the Big Easy as a valet at a pricey restaurant viewing it as a temporary...
Published on July 24, 2012 by Beatrice Fairfax

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365 of 433 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent idea for a book, unreliable narrator
I'm conflicted about HEADS IN BEDS. I really wanted to like it. I spent some time in hospitality myself, and I think there are great stories to be told from both sides of the check-in desk. And there are some interesting stories in this book, at least in the 85 pages of it that I got through before putting it down.

And why did I put it down? Mostly, because a...
Published 24 months ago by Dave Schwartz


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365 of 433 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent idea for a book, unreliable narrator, September 23, 2012
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I'm conflicted about HEADS IN BEDS. I really wanted to like it. I spent some time in hospitality myself, and I think there are great stories to be told from both sides of the check-in desk. And there are some interesting stories in this book, at least in the 85 pages of it that I got through before putting it down.

And why did I put it down? Mostly, because a memoir needs a likable, or at least, engaging, narrator and Tomsky comes across as neither.

An example: early in the book, he decides to impress us by giving us some historical context for the development of the hospitality industry. I guess he and his editor thought that three paragraphs of history was too dry, so Tomsky decided to spice it up. "So in 1794, someone, some ---hole, built the very first 'hotel' in New York City..."

If Tomsky really feels that way about whoever opened that hotel, I've got to ask, why? What did he ever do to him to earn that kind of vitriol. And if he doesn't really feel angry enough towards him to use that word, then he's the worst kind of literary poseur: a YouTube commenting keyboard warrior with an agent.

Tomsky does this quite a bit. It's one thing to have the profanity and pseudo-tough guy language in your dialog. It can even come out of your narrator's mouth when speaking out loud. But when the narrator uses this kind of language to talk directly to the reader, it's trying too hard to be edgy.

He does this throughout, and it feels completely inauthentic to me. It makes me not trust the narrator, and that's the kiss of death for a memoir.

What finally killed the book for me was the narrator's sense of entitlement. I needed a break after page 82, where the narrator was distraught over not being able to spend the rest of his life hanging out in parks in Copenhagen smoking marijuana, and having to return to the US to work after his money ran out. I put the book down for a few days, then dove back in, but tapped out three pages later when the narrator complained about living expenses in New York City being too expensive, and the difficulties of getting a job outside of the one field where he has actual experience.

I've got to confess that I just couldn't keep reading after that. Newsflash: most people who work in hospitality don't do it because they really get off on showing up to work ten minutes before their shift and waiting on other people all day. They do it because they are adults who other people are depending on to be responsible. I try to finish every book I start, but at that point, I figured that the author wasn't treating his readers with any respect, so I didn't feel compelled to read on.
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uhm, unemployed much?, August 27, 2012
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Prior to my current vocation, I worked in hotels and resorts for 10 years, serving people, making money, and having all sorts of fun- I love it and it was hard to leave. I can tell you- the tone of this book and the things that are happening and have happened is just an attempt to cash in on the whole "Waiter Rant" snarky tone in memoirs today.

The author of this book comes across as entitled, snobbish, and horribly detached from customer service. The reason most people stay in those jobs is because they like the interaction with people, the money is secondary, and the location is a perk. Attracting drifters and those who can't settle down is a secodary aspect of the profession- and they don't last long. From past experience, anyone with an attitude half as nasty, condescending, and vitrolic as Tomsky's would be out of a job so fast they wouldn't have time to drop the key off at the front desk on the way out.

This book isn't so much a tell all as it is a mash-up of a "10-things-they-won't-tell-you" lists, "Waiter Rant's" pissy attitude, and some of the good ole "look-at-me-I'm-serving-rich-people" melodrama thrown in for good measure. Nothing special or spectacularly revealing here.
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107 of 127 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It should be titled, How to steal things and not get caught., December 8, 2012
Did it not occur to the author that at least three of the tips on the list of ways to get the most out of your hotel stay were illegal? Watching a movie and indulging in the minibar and then saying you didn't do either of those things is outright theft. Saying you didn't get a robe when you did and then stealing the extra is lying and theft.

What kind of morally-bankrupt, selfish person blatantly lies and then steals and then tells other people that it's an excellent way to get something for nothing? Did you give one thought to the poor cleaning woman who will come under fire for not stocking the room properly? Actions have consequences. Are you so hard up for a bathrobe that you're willing to risk a hotel cleaning woman's job?

Shame on you Mr. Tomsky. You've not given us a how-to book to hotel stays. You've given us a lesson on your own selfishness. You are one of the reasons hotels are now so expensive. Who do you think ultimately pays for your so-called freebies? The next guest down the line.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author is a complete jerk., January 3, 2013
Amazon won't allow post links (and with good reason) but do google his recent Lifehacker article ("Confessions of a Hotel Insider"). Rude and obnoxious ... not someone that deserves your money (or should work with customers directly).
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165 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Just The Beginning, July 24, 2012
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The title is funny, but it's just the beginning of this factual, entertaining, and even informative look at the hospitality industry.
Jacob Tomsky graduated from college with a philosophy degree and a college loan. Without really intending to pursue a service career, he initially took a job in the Big Easy as a valet at a pricey restaurant viewing it as a temporary job and way to take a stab at getting that looming loan down. Before long, the innocent valet comes to the realization that his job is the pits. With that he rushes off two apps to hotels in New Orleans in search of more meaningful (I.e., more lucrative) employment. What follows next is a chronicle of life in the hospitality industry.
Over the next ten years Jacob's career goes from valet to front desk and almost every point in between. He introduces his reader to stories from the trenches and a large cast of characters that range from a crafty head bellman Alan(aka the "Gray Wolf") to Julio the night manager who pulled a disappearing act for hours on end as he conducted business of another kind. In the world of hotels, luggage takes a whacking, employees sample room service, and amenities are carried off like contraband. For the most part hotel employees are often poorly paid, treated badly, and angry.
The reader also learns that hotels can be very different. In New Orleans things were far more relaxed than in New York where check-in becomes a five second process of shuffling in the cattle/guests and being optimally productive while not even being provided a stool.
Tomsky offers tips on getting the most out of your hotel in regard to perks. Pretty obvious stuff actually but it's always good to be informed and even better when you are not.
I received this book at 8 a.m. and took to it like Grant took Richmond and shot through it in 3 hours. It was honest to an extreme point of bluntness, interesting, darn funny, and well written.
This is a fact and anecdote driven book that is perfect for a do nothing day.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate On Your Pillow, Anger In His Heart, July 30, 2012
By 
Bill Slocum (Greenwich, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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Want to know how to cadge a room upgrade from a front desk? How to sneak free booze from the minibar? How to dodge having to tip a bellman? The dark underbelly of hotel management is laid out in this new memoir/tipbook by Jacob Tomsky, a seasoned-if-scarred veteran of the industry.

As both the advance publicity and earlier reviews here note, this is the hotel-industry version of the well-regarded service-industry tell-alls "Kitchen Confidential" and "Waiter Rant." Having read the latter, I knew something of what I was in for, and the format here is much the same: A guy tells you about what really goes on behind a front desk and in the employee corridors of a hotel, using his own workplace experiences as your guide. Like Steve Dublanica in "Waiter Rant," Tomsky develops a lot of anger issues, in his case exacerbated by the fact he takes decidedly less joy in the people he serves - and serves under.

This is ironic because for nearly half the book, Tomsky by his own admission works in pleasant circumstances at a brand new New Orleans hotel, where pay is good and employees are encouraged to act on their own initiative both in serving customers and advancing their own careers. Still frustrated, Tomsky leaves, spends his money on vacation in Europe, and then goes to work at another hotel, this in New York, where his situation is far less happy.

Is working in a hotel to blame, or just choosing to work in one in the city that never sleeps? I never really understood that, probably because I never felt I understood Tomsky.

As a writer, Tomsky has a funny, jazzy writing style that keeps you reading long after you realize he has nothing much to say beyond the misery of living off other people's dimes, even when they come in the form of $100 bills. He tells some funny stories about guests both nasty and icky, such as one about a regular at the New York hotel who raises a ruckus when his bagful of adult toys is removed in the middle of his stay. He also offers amusing tips on how one can slip a tip to a front-desk clerk to ensure service above the final bill: "Some people feel nervous about this move. Please don't. It's not a drug deal."

There are a lot of go-nowhere anecdotes, too. Tomsky hooks up with a beautiful woman who uses her room for four-hour stays. He wonders between dates if she's a prostitute. If she was, we never find out. Brian Wilson, the Beach Boy, appears in a couple of lengthy cameos that allow Tomsky to describe his gratitude for the man's music but never reach any kind of point - except maybe the author got to meet a big celebrity. Tomsky also writes a lot about his drinking and dap exchanges with the hotel staff, which like his frequent profanity and rap references, seem an attempt at affecting a streetwise manner that becomes labored with much repetition.

Even these and other pointless digressions don't detract overmuch from the author's zippy, take-no-prisoners style. He doesn't really waste time on anything, including a reason for reading this other than a serious interest in the hotel business going in. If there was a sense of connectedness in what Tomsky saw himself doing in regard to the larger human experience, other than he hated his life but couldn't see himself doing anything else with it, I missed it.
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62 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartburn Hotel, July 26, 2012
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Well, here's a first. The blurb on this book is dead-on accurate. It says "in the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant...", and darned if those two books aren't exactly the two that came to mind as I hit the halfway point in the book.

Jacob Tomsky is a junior Anthony Bourdain, trying a little too hard to be the bad boy, when you suspect that he's known around the hotel as teacher's pet, or whatever the hotel equivalent is.

Still, it's fun to find out what goes on behind the scenes at the hotel, and you know, it's pretty much what you thought. The valets are burning the rubber on your tires, the clerks are drinking room service booze in the utility closet, and if the bellhops don't like you, your toothbrush gets a ride in a disgruntled employee's behind.

There's a fair amount of partying and shenanigans and celebrity name-dropping, but mostly this is Tomsky's rant about a job he loves and hates. He loves the parties, shenanigans, and celebrities, but he hates the actual work. It's tedious and boring and often degrading. When you're working for tips, it's hard (but not impossible) to keep your dignity. It can be stressful, and Tomsky is stressed.

Many of the episodes in the book involve alcohol and drugs. He makes many comparisons to prostitutes and other women, in hip hop terms. And he illustrates interesting accents and dialects by trying to recreate them in print. This has unfortunate results when he is quoting his black colleagues in New Orleans and and his Colombian and Ecuadorian co-workers in New York, as well as a Japanese guest.

If you're hoping for some insider tips on how to get better treatment and upgrades at your next hotel, here's Tomsky's advice. Lie. Drink the liquor and eat the macadamias from the minibar, watch the premium movie, then say you didn't. That's his advice. And tip everyone, especially the front desk clerk, and the valet, and the bellhop. Tip a lot. He doesn't mention tipping the housekeepers, but go ahead and tip them anyway. Thanks.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money. This is pop garbage., January 3, 2013
Leeching from the popularity of better written "insider" memoir pieces the author relates many exaggerated tales about his alleged experiences as hotel staff in New Orleans and Manhattan establishments. The quality of the writing is on par with filler articles in online magazines or posts in gripe forums for customer service workers. The stories are pretty much what you might imagine, and the "insider" tips are just underwhelming.

What turned me off the most is that much of this book comes across as pandering diatribe against stereotypes of bad customers. It feels like the poorly written diary of a teenager who is just realizing that work is hard, and people can be unpleasant. While it reminded me of some foolish and irresponsible things that I did when I worked in jobs I didn't appreciate, the arrogant tone that pops up throughout the text just makes Jacob Tomsky out to be childish and unlikable. The conflicting ethics he advocates make him out to be still irresponsible and unwise.

I wouldn't pay to read this. This guy has nothing important or interesting to say.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting, September 13, 2012
By 
Susan W. Swartz "beadmomsw" (Highland Park, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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Unfortunately, this book does not live up to the hype of its own press release. "Heads in Beds" promises to be a reckless memoir about what it is like to work in the hotel industry, and promises to provide exposé of hotel practices, including tips and hints for getting the hotel staff on your side enough that they want to offer you freebies and perks. Instead, I found "Heads in Beds" to be a mildly amusing account of one man's experience up through the hotel chain of command. There are included a number of humorous (and scary) anecdotes. However, there are almost no tips provided and, when they are, they are very oblique, generalized, and (it seems to me) unlikely to help the average hotel visitor. This behind-the-scenes look at what motivates hotel staff (basically money) and how they react to both their bosses and their customers is gruesome enough to put you off ever staying at a hotel again, no matter how many stars the hotel has been awarded. The author may have moved up through the ranks of hotel hierarchy but never really seems to be enjoying himself or to take much pride in a job well done (except for the treatment accorded a few favored clients). The end result is that you feel relieved to find out that he moved away from the hotel industry and is only now looking back on it. He may have seemed an ardent and caring employee at the beginning of his career but he soon comes across as jaded and cynical about the entire industry. This attitude doesn't make for the most pleasant reading, nor is it balanced by the sort of detective work or exposés that would have made the book stimulating reading. As awful as the show is, watching Gordon Ramsay's new program "Hotel Hell" is more interesting and engrossing than this book.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Very Disturbing Book - Jacob Tomsky's Shocking Sense of Entitlement Gives Hardworking Hotel Employees A Black Eye, February 19, 2013
I have worked in the conference planning industry for over 10 years now and have dealt with my share of hotels. I was looking forward to reading "Heads In Beds" to get some additional insight into working with these properties. In my experience most hotel employees are good, hardworking people who genuinely care about customers. The book starts out fairly interesting with a few good ideas, but by the end the author has become so jaded and annoying, with such a horrible entitled attitude, that I just wished for the whole thing to be over. I have a second job where I work for tips too and this book is just embarrassing to those of us who actually care about our jobs and realize that the key to maximizing your tips is actually caring about the customer and taking pride in your job.

First, the good part of the book. A few of the ideas presented are helpful. Tip the front desk clerk upon check-in. Tip the bellman. Mostly just tip. (Interestingly enough, he does not mention tipping the room maids, but they should be tipped too). You would be shocked at the number of people who either don't know to tip or who simply ignore it. People in these industries depend on tips to feed their families, and I firmly believe everyone should hold a job where they are dependent on tips for a year to see what it is like.

The book quickly slips into a sense of bitterness and entitlement, however. Early on author Jacob Tomsky tells the union organizer for his New York hotel that he is afraid unions will lead to "laziness" at the hotel. He finally signs for his union card and later begins to take advantage of the situation himself. He repeatedly calls in 2 days sick (counted as 1 sick day by the union because it is 1 "illness") on either side of a weekend, thus creating a 6 day vacation "out of thin air." The author tells readers how to get in-room movies and minibar charges taken off the bill (basically lie outright to the hotel), even going so far as to tell the reader how to steal them by checking in to a room, emptying the mini bar, and then quickly requesting another room. This practice bothers me because it drives up prices for the rest of us unwilling to lie or steal. How would the author like it if everyone stole copies of his book instead of paying for them? I am in an industry that books room blocks at major hotels several times a year, and seeing abuses like this being performed by guests makes me angry. The hotel has to raise room prices to cover such losses, and honest guests coming in later end up paying for it. This whole attitude that the hotel somehow owes it to them really disturbs me.

The author repeatedly makes it very clear - in so many words - that he couldn't care less about customers unless money is involved, preferably a "Baby Brick" (a $20) or a "Brick" (a crisp $100). He complains on and on about the attitude of guests, and then almost brags about how he gets back at them in passive-aggressive ways such as giving them a worse room, a higher rate, by "key bombing" them, etc. "...that's just the beginning of the ways I can and will punish guests. I am a God of Instant Karma." As a paying customer this attitude is quite disturbing to me, and should also disturb others in the industry who actually care about customer service.

Later, after complaining about hotel management and guests for chapter after chapter and seeing how far he can push the rules, Tomsky finally gets called in for his last (of many) write ups, and blames his union rep for not standing up for him. After copping an attitude for most of the New York section of the book, he suddenly cares about his job? Suddenly he "loves" the hotel? He is upset about losing the struggle, but judging from his work ethic he has really been gone in his mind from the hotel for a long time. Even after being confronted by management about his bad attitude he gives himself a long weekend, calling out sick the next Monday and Tuesday and drowning his sorrows in caviar and $17 cocktails. What's more, he turns to a hotel guest, whom he is now dating, to take him away to another city and "pay for [his] life," after receiving a similar offer from another guest couple to help him relocate in South Africa. Really? He goes on to lay part of the blame for his termination on his new Spanish-speaking union delegate's not being able to follow his dismissal proceedings. His former delegate, by the way, is unavailable after taking two months off work for family medical leave when her husband spends 2 days in the hospital and she takes advantage of the situation "as any union member would" by going on an extended vacation to the Dominican Republic. Are we actually supposed to be sympathetic to these flagrant abuses and their results? The author's entitlement mentality wears very thin very quickly.

I have run many business conferences all over the country. Most hotels and their staffs are wonderful. Without a doubt, however, the most difficult and expensive shows to put on have been the ones in hotels where the staff have the same surly, snarky, and entitled attitudes as the author of this book. Needless to say, we will not return to those properties. They give an otherwise good industry with hardworking employees a black eye.

The last part of the book comes across as a long self-indulgent telephone call from a spoiled, disgruntled child seeking a sympathetic ear. Grow up Mr. Tomsky. If you do not respect us as readers or customers, don't expect us to respect you after this garbage. Work is hard and no one owes you anything. Please, call someone else.
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