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When I started working in hotels the computer screens glowed in one color, alien green, and the monitors were the size of boulders. We used to confidently toss comment cards in the trash (or, as we referred to it, file them in the “T” file) making them disappear forever. I used to cash checks by picking up the phone and speaking to another human being. Music in the lobby was usually provided by a piano player, who would swivel his head at passing guests with a ridiculous, pasty-looking smile as he tapped out non-offensive cover songs played with a non-offensive classical flourish.
Now, mid-volume, beat-heavy techno seeps from recessed speakers built into the lobby’s crown molding. The screens are flat. You can’t manage to direct anything from Trip Advisor into the “T” file and all the guests want to hook up their iPad to the toilet or whatever. And if you pay with a check I still have to pick up the phone, which is extremely irritating because who pays with checks anymore? Stop it.
But all of that change means nothing. Because I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed: The front desk agents, the bellmen, the doormen, the housekeepers, the room service attendants, and the managers. Hotel employees are still version 1.0 and I guarantee if you brought me to a bar and sat me next to a front desk agent from 1897, we’d over-drink and swap the same type of hilarious stories about the same type of insane guests. Hospitality, no matter how slick it gets, will always be a business run by people who serve people. It will always be about service. It will always take a person to explain that, no, you cannot hook up your iPad to the toilet but you can use it to control the lights and wirelessly play music through the in-room speaker system. And guests still, and hopefully will forever, hand me physical comment cards, which I will continue to throw in the trash.
During all these renovations (while I said things like, “Wait, they made the internet wireless? It’s in the goddamn air now?”) I was always writing. I grew up reading novel after novel and that’s all I wanted from life, to give back and write something good. After years of hotel work and relocations that took me from New Orleans to Paris to Copenhagen and ultimately New York City, I finally conceived the idea for Heads in Beds. I put everything I had into it, all my knowledge of the industry and the writing skills I’d developed since I was a child. I truly hope you find it funny and informative and that it helps you navigate the crooked halls of hospitality. That has always been my goal, to write something good.
That and hang out with a front desk agent from 1897.
Entertaining, humorous, and insightful, and a very quick and easy read.
It was interesting on a certain level (do you want to know about people who work in hotels?), but I feel I could have spent my time and money in some better way.
I only wish that Mr. Tomsky would stay at the hotel front desk so he could do a sequel.
I travel a lot and have organized groups and conferences all around the world. I learned a lot about the back side of the hotel business from the author. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Michele Ashby
A useful read for the frequent traveler who does not know what goes on "in the back". A sad tale in some ways given the exploitation of staff and the priorities of the... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Peter M. Herford
The lesson here is to tip or you could get a dirty, dirty toothbrush. A easy read for when you are thirsty for a service hustle straight-up.Published 12 days ago by C. Dodd
Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles & So-Called Hospitality, Jacob Tomsky; Doubleday (2012; hardcover)
"As someone who has never said a single funny... Read more
I loved this one--Tomsky may not think he's doing anything with his philosophy degree, but clearly, it's enabled him to see well below the surface of everything going on around... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Betsy Earls
The book wasn't really what I expected based on the comments and other critics out there. I honestly didn't learn that much more about the behind the scenes of the hotel industry.Published 14 days ago by Larry G. Bainbridge
Enlightening details into the hotel industry. I must say pretty impressive if he actually wrote this during his 3 week suspension.Published 16 days ago by kyong rhee