When (and How) to Talk to Your Hotel’s General Manager

Seek out your hotel’s manager as soon as you arrive. Here’s why.

Lars Leetaru

By Shivani Vora

A hotel’s general manager can make your stay at a property that much better, said Bettina Landt, general manager of  The White Elephant in Nantucket, Mass. But Ms. Landt, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a general manager, also said that most guests don’t take advantage of what they offer.

“Guests don’t rely on general managers as much as they should because they don’t know how to,” she said. Here are some of her on tips on how to use your hotel’s general manager:

When the Hotel Is Sold Out

Although there’s no guarantee, general managers may be able to get you a room at their properties when the inventory is showing as sold out. “Managers know their inventory cold, and they have the ability — unlike reservation agents — to move things around or see an opening so that a room becomes available,” Ms. Landt said.

It’s always worth asking to speak to them for help. If they can’t help you right now, they probably know when a room may become available and how you can snag it when it does, since they know the cycles of their inventory better than anyone.

When You’d Love an Upgrade

While hotels usually assign rooms the day before guests check in, room availability often changes the day they arrive. The check-in staff has some discretion to upgrade guests, but the general manager yields more authority to do so.

When You Need Tips on What to Do Around Town

Guests usually turn to the concierge staff when they want ideas of local activities, sights and restaurants, but the general manager can also help, Ms. Landt said. “We’re ambassadors for the destination and love giving advice on what to see and do,” she explained.

Ms. Landt, for example, often shares her favorite menu items at various restaurants in Nantucket with guests, and also recommends her favorite activities for kids that her own children have enjoyed. Also, general managers are well connected in their destination and can make introductions to local artists, store owners and managers at non-hotel-related bars and restaurants who you may not normally meet.

When You Want a Friend Who’ll Look Out for You

Or at least someone in your corner. Many guests don’t meet their hotel’s general manager and may not even know who they are, but they should, Ms. Landt said. “I love when guests introduce themselves,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve formed great relationships with many of them.”

She advised seeking out the general manager a few times throughout your stay just to say hello and share feedback on the hotel as well as your trip overall — even more so when someone is doing a great job and deserves praise. This personal connection sometimes has benefits: general managers will often arrange for a round of free drinks at the hotel’s bar for guests they know, and will also take care to ensure that they get a prime table at the property’s restaurant. But don’t go into it expecting to get something out of it. It’s certainly enough to make a new friend when you’re far from home.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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