Given the overwhelming feedback we received from our hospitality industry colleagues, from Hoteliers, Owners, Students, Hotel School Academia and Industry professionals, we felt compelled to share a selection of their insights with you. The underlying sentiment being that Jacob Tomsky’s comments are not indicative of the industry, which strives to deliver the highest levels of customer service, integrity and professionalism at all levels.
Ignore Jacob and His Kind and Leave Them to Their Conscience — Mohammed Azam, General Manger at Regent Palace Hotel, United Arab Emirates.
“I expect we should be glad that majority of our guests are "good people" with a sense of honesty and fairness unlike Jacob who is only out to make a "fast buck" and does not care how he makes it.
The question is how do we respond – I suppose the article is a bit "tongue in cheek" and in spite of the natural feeling of indignation, cannot be taken seriously (as I am sure, most of our guest will also do the same).
We, in the hospitality industry, should continue to treat our guests with the respect and trust they deserve. Let's ignore Jacob and his kind and leave them to their conscience.”
Theft and Deceit Comes at High Price to Industry — Seth Lewis, Hospitality Lecturer, London.
“A couple of perspectives – as an educator, I can only hark back to my MBA dissertation supervisor advising me to stay away from 'airport books' as a foundation for anything…Some of what comes out is sensational and intended to shock rather than to inform.
As a hotelier and discussing it with colleagues, what comes out around theft and deceit in hotels is really the high cost of doing business. We are fundamentally a generous social industry. There will be those that take advantage of that generosity that we need to be aware of, and those that with whom it will be a mutually beneficial long term relationship. Writing off the odd minibar charge or film for guests spending x 100 dollars a night would only seem to be good business sense.”
We've Long Stopped Being a Bunch of Mugs for Clever Clogs Like Tomsky — Tanja Furby, Hotel Manager, Central London.
“I'm feeling compelled to write regarding Tomsky's book — I had not heard about it or read it before the article dated 27/05 by Anne Edwards but in short, the guy […] has obviously not ever stayed anywhere half equipped (not that I don't understand small independent owners cannot always award the technology big chains can).
Empty my mini bar — the electronic system will tell me to the second when items were removed. Door lock system will tell me who was in the room at the time, who cut the key for them and when. Public areas cameras will prove it (as they will capture bribery). Attempted theft is a criminal offence.
PLUS, once we have charged the guest for the entire contents of the mini bar (at mini bar prices which I admit are always inflated), seeing room was inspected (would not check anyone in if it wasn't) by a manager, evidence of smoking will only point to one person. Hefty fine, stated clearly on reg card.
Clearly, guest cannot, for reasons of attempted theft and disregard of laws (smoking) be permitted to remain in the property. Nor qualify for refund after taking possession of the room and getting evicted for the two.
This is standard practice in most (certainly London) quality (both chain and independent) hotels.
Good advice Sir, if you, for a price of a few miniatures (as most soft drinks in minibars are nowadays free) want to not just find yourself homeless for the night, but chance prosecution and never be able to stay in town again as we share details of fraudsters between us.
Seriously, someone needs to tell the general public that whilst hospitality is exactly that, we've long stopped being a bunch of mugs for clever clogs like Tomsky.”
Book Reviewing Hotelier Would Not Bother with This One — John Hogan, Hotelier, Speaker, Educator, Columnist, Phoenix, Arizona.
“In the past several years, I have reviewed dozens of books for a major online distributor. I strive to be fair, open-minded and careful in sharing my observations, as I want to encourage people to spend their reading time wisely. In this time of information overload, I do not waste my time commenting on books I find offensive, of little value or apparently written for the purpose of making the author “famous.” While I appreciate some TV attempts to have inside looks at hospitality such as Restaurant and Hotel Impossible, I elected to pass on a review of Jacob Tomsky’s Heads in Beds…, realizing after reading it, that it was an inaccurate attempt to capitalize on an unsuccessful career by claiming a series of extravagant and excessive examples of greed, dishonesty and shortcuts. The full title of the book includes the word “reckless”, whose synonyms include words like irresponsible, careless, thoughtless, rash, inattentive and ill-considered.
I have been in this industry for more than three decades, working with thousands of hard working, caring professionals at all levels who bear no resemblance to the characterizations made in this book. “
Take it with a ‘Grain of Salt’ — Marty Bussey, Director of Revenue Management at Trump International Beach Resort.
“I too read the book when it first came out… it's NOT typical of the hospitality world I know. It read like a comical novel and I did laugh. We in the industry and especially the public should read it as they say "with a grain of salt. “
Book Does Not Reflect Hospitality Staff — Thomas A. Gardiner, John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch Foundation Founder, Monterey Bay California, USA.
“God Bless Anne Edwards and Larry Mogelonsky. Jacobs Tomsky's 'hotel industry stint' book conclusions do not reflect hospitality staff… Only the devious and malicious character of Mr. Tomsky. Character being "what you do when no one is looking…"
Honour and Character Important in Hiring Process — Gordon James Gorman, General Manager, Avari Towers, Karachi.
“I have not read this book and I don’t intend to, so I really have no right to criticize the author or the content, however, from the few snippets I have seen he reveals nothing that fraudsters and cheats don’t already know, so I feel the best way to respond to this matter, and to this “gentleman” who seems to be carrying a rather large chip on his former Concierge shoulder, is to simply ignore him, and not give him his ten minutes of Warhol like fame.
I would also advise him, if he does read what I am sure may be a rather vociferous and unanimous industry response, that what most of us in this industry look for when hiring new talent are the all important prerequisites for success, which are as follows; for him or her to be able to establish credit for themselves and for the employer, and then an honourable reputation, and finally, character, none of which this wretched fellow seems to have, judging by what I have seen thus far.
Perhaps he may end up with a hit TV reality show entitled RIP OFF THE HOTEL, but hopefully, just like the book, no one will want to see it.”
Jeopardizing Jobs with Illegal Behaviour — Theresa S Sioloa.
“I just read the article referring to Jacob Tomsky's book. It's very sad to know that someone like him is teaching people to be dishonest and steal while staying at a resort or hotel; for him to belittle hospitality employees, as they work very hard for their income, and to jeopardize their jobs, by stealing. Makes me wonder how his upbringing was as a child. No parental guidance, or troubled child who was involved with authorities? Great article by the way. “
Theft On His Mind — Alan Campbell, The Hotel Guy, Las Vegas.
“Why is it that there is always one jerk in the bunch that spoils the good deeds of others? This so-called writer Mr. Tomsky has purposely gone out of his way to show the world that he is a first class jerk to go to a hotel with theft on his mind, and the intent to defraud for the sole purpose of showing that it can be done; from ripping off the mini bars to bribing the front desk, to getting upgrades that he doesn’t deserve. What kind of example does this man set for his family? Does he rip off his family as well?
The hospitality industry employs thousands of people throughout the world, and as a whole they perform very well. Yes, once in a while a bad apple appears, but they are dealt with very quickly. Mr. Tomsky is telling guests how to become thieves when they check into a hotel, thank you but most guests are honest and would not stoop to such tricks. There are guest that will disavow a movie when checking out, maybe it was a mistake, and perhaps it wasn’t. The mini bars do have some accounting problems at times, but most hotels will be more than willing to settle on the side of the customer. Disputes in billing do happen, part of doing business, but the same error can happen at a Target Store. Mr. Tomsky is looking for publicity for his book, or another book that he may be writing. Staying at a hotel should be a pleasurable experience for most guests, not staying in a hotel to see what you can get away with like M. Tomsky. He is going to find himself outside looking in one cold night, when there will be no room for him at the inn.”
No Short Cuts to A Guest's Heart and Wallet — L. Aruna Dhir, Former Director of Public Relations at The Imperial New Delhi.
My first hotel experience was with Hyatt International. They went with the corporate tagline — 'Feel the Hyatt Touch.' I soon realized the import of the line as we were conditioned by the Group to be discerning in our service attitude and overall demeanour guided by the hallmark of Brand positioning, so as to create the WOW factor in our delivery of duty. In short, the guest was God and the hotel was geared towards rendering exemplary service through its band of honest, committed, well-trained employees.
At my second hotel chain — which happens to be the leader of the pack in India and the Subcontinent — I was bemused to note that along with the Company Mission and Vision, there also was the Company Dharma (loosely translated as one's religious and moral duty) which, among other things, guided the employees towards such a "Conduct which puts the customer first, the Company second and the self last."
Then there is that iconic Brand that swears by its motto — 'We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.' Another market leader's maxim is 'To delight our guests every time by creating engaging experiences straight from our heart.' Yet another believes in enchanting the guests to such an extent that even the Celebrity clientele remarks 'I am a fan.'
With all this enviable background for established hoteliers and an awe-inspiring road map for young entrants floating around in the Hospitality geosphere; a book such as 'Heads in Beds' and the mindset of its writer comes as a rude shock. Perhaps, that is the actual intent – to sell the sleaze on the basis of its shock value by sensationalizing a line of business that is sensitive and sacrosanct. Possibly, that is why the title itself calls the venture reckless and asks for the said venturer to be labelled more a 'hustler' than an 'hotelier.'
The moot point with Jacob Tomsky's book is — what kind of hotel is Tomsky talking about? Those that have stood firmly on their rich legacy and on a strong base of their above par reputation or is he talking about the inn in the ghetto with dirty sheets and dirtier practices. The latter, sadly, exists in B-grade films and literature; as even the tiniest tavern is proud of what it lays out and aspires to garner guest respect, recognition and return.
On a lenient note, Tomsky is attempting perhaps black humour to sell his book with. But more seriously, books such as this can have a far-reaching impact, both on the general audience and the hoteliers themselves. It does become a case of 'one fish spoiling the entire pond.' This is especially true as most, nay, all hotel chains and hoteliers spend millions of hours in training the team, impressing their Brand Standards (Gold Standards, Dharma, Principles, Philosophy or whatever other name they call it with) and sustaining a culture that rests on a foundation of honesty, integrity, professionalism and commitment.
No hotel wishes to put up bad service, bad product and bad staff to showcase its wares. Likewise, they do not wish to entertain guests who would come and ruin all that the hotel stands for. Hotels swear by their guest history to lay out the proverbial red carpet for the good guests and to put red flags on the ones who are not welcome back to the premises.
Guest loyalty, either through great service, strong impressions or the professionally managed loyalty programs, is a big deal with hotels. And it is certainly based on a fair game that is played by all the rules for a strong industry reputation, stronger association with guests and a very handsome bottom line.
Outside of this, there is just no other way to hoteliering, anywhere in the world. There, certainly, are no short cuts to a guest's heart and wallet. Neither can guests enjoy hotels if they heed Tomsky's advice; for not only is their own reputation at stake but they stand the risk of getting black-listed. This is true of VIP Groups let alone FITs.
The Book ‘Heads in Beds’ is at best, a sound tutorial on ‘How Not to Do Business in Hotels.’
About Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards combines her love of language, travel, and different cultures as Editor in Chief of ehotelier.staging.wpengine.com. Prior to this position, Anne lectured in Cross Cultural Studies at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia and currently consults to the Australian Federal Government on subjects such as Leadership and Building Productive Partnerships. Anne has travelled and worked internationally for twelve years, holding various positions in the field of education, most notably as linguistic advisor to the Crown Princess of Thailand for two years where she sampled some of the best hotels in the world. Her love for travel spans the freedom of wandering on a shoe-string budget to the finest standards of service in world-class properties. As Editor in Chief of one of the largest hotel news sites in the world, Anne has a birds-eye view of what is happening in the industry internationally.