Believe it or not, I’m very popular with hotel receptionists and it all comes from one simple thing – my name. This doesn’t apply in Ireland, only when I go abroad. The sex is irrelevant, (how often do people say that, I wonder?) and to be honest the men are more impressed by me than the women. Now given that I travel a lot and I’m partial to a cheeky upgrade, I do try to use what little charm God gave me, to get a better night’s sleep by asking for a better room. I’ll use any excuse. My name – yeah if it’s working- why not?
Now before you get misled, it is not that people go … “Oh my God it’s the famous writer!” Far from it. However – and this came as a surprise to me at first – The minute I hit mainland Europe, the name Power tends to get some people a little excited. To be fair it’s not just hotel receptionists, but they are the ones I am most likely to disclose my name to, as in “I have a reservation in the name of Power.”
You would want to hear the utter scutter that comes out of their mouths. “Oh Mr. Power (as their eyes light up) we have been expecting you.” Now, try saying that with a coy and excited German accent and you’ll get the gist of it. This is usually accompanied by a smile and sometimes a wink, and that’s just the men. But they don’t leave it there.
“What a great name you have. I wish I had such a great name.” In fairness that came from an Austrian whose name was Kitzbitchler, so maybe I understood the preference for a change of name in his case – No offence to any Kitzbitchler’s out there.
Then you get the “But we were expecting someone…” then the awkward pause as they realise they are about to offend me, but they are committed to finishing the sentence and with limited English, they fall into the trap of “… a little taller.”
I don’t mind, if anything – being insulted by someone who is embarrassed for insulting you, makes it easier to get an upgrade. Hell I encourage it. I am just back from a trip where the guy immediately launched into a speech about how great my name is when I checked in. I led him along the path as far as I could…
“Why do you like the name so much?” I enquired. Now this question floors your average receptionist because quite frankly, they haven’t really thought about it beyond a vague, ethereal, fondness for the word Power being attached to them. They seem to instantly create a fantasy, whereby they possess the name and it sounds more than a little cool in their mind’s eye. Again, it doesn’t apply in Ireland where you’d be tripping over Power’s, especially if you get lost in Waterford, but the Europeans, especially the Northern ones, do get almost inappropriately excited about the name.
“”I don’t know.” They openly admit this failing and almost scratch their heads before defending their fondness for my name. “But it must be cooool to have such a name.” Then they let it slip, especially the German hoteliers “It must be like…you have Power… you know…you are Powerful…it’s …it’s… just cool you know?”
I don’t know to be fair. I hadn’t thought about it much until the world outside of Ireland started to comment on it. I do know that people used to sing that bloody stupid Cliff Richard Eurovision song to me in school when I was about ten. Once they heard my name was Power, they’d sing “Power to all our friends.” It got very old very fast I can tell you.
Still, I am a believer of making hay and so on, so it is around about this point, while the receptionist is still distracted by his or her secret fantasy to have such a “cool” name, that I chance my arm.
“It is a great name to have.” It’s a lie but now I’m reinforcing their positive feeling for me. I look at their name badge. “Andreas…mmm… Yeah that would work for you…Andreas Power… Can you imagine.” I watch their eyes lift as they picture it. As soon a smile starts to creep across their mouths, I go for the kill.
“Now you know what tends to happen when you have a name like this don’t you Andreas?”
They rarely answer, perhaps just a quizzical raised eyebrow as they are still trying to imaging what their children would be called if they only had such a wonderful surname. I don’t wait.
“Smart, ambitious, (you can see the additional positive reinforcing can’t you) young hotel staff like you, generally give me a complimentary upgrade.” Then I smile. You have to smile; it’s all part of the deal.
Now here is where you sort the wheat from the chaff. I said earlier that the sex is irrelevant but to be fair, the women are much shrewder than the men. Maybe if I was twenty years younger and a whole lot cuter, the ladies might fall for it more, but I find the men are bigger suckers for an ego boost. That’s not to say the girls don’t occasionally think “Cheeky bas**rd” and give me an upgrade anyway, but the lads are definitely easier.
You have to know how and when to play to your audience. I do best with older ladies and young gay men for some reason. Luckily there are not a lot of older men on reception in most hotels, they just scowl at me. For the young female receptionist I have to use humour to get an upgrade. I think they see me like a father or even a grandad so that sometimes gives them a soft spot. For the older girls a nice obviously over cooked compliment that makes them give me a wry smile as if to say “heard it all before” but if delivered with a touch of polish, I do well in getting the upgrade here. As for gay men, why wouldn’t they fall for my charms?
Importantly, I am always polite, I never overstep the mark and they all ultimately know what I am doing. That being said, I seem to wangle the occasional upgrade despite or perhaps because of my obviousness. You know what they say, if you don’t ask…
To be fair, I will try to get a free upgrade given a hint of an opportunity. I once walked into a room that was already occupied by a colleague of mine as it turns out. I went back to reception and plaumaused the bejaysus out of the receptionist with a load of auld guff until she put me into a suite. Now I laid it on a bit thick, so much so that at one point she said, “You can stop now, I’ve already allocated the room.”
Ah yes… It always feels like a little victory when you get something for free. On my most recent trip, between two of us we got room upgrades, free cakes and an extra driver for free on our hire car and all it cost, was a little bit of time spend talkin’ sh**e. They say where there’s muck there’s brass, but do you know what, where there’s guff there’s free stuff. Go on, next time you’re travelling, give it a bash, or failing that, change your name to Power...
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –