I used to work at a hotel, that before a buffoon took over, proudly flew the Marriott Flag. Through pure circumstances, that being that no one else was available for the position, a former Holiday Inn/former Roy Rogers manager was promoted to the position of General Manager. THIS WAS A DISASTER.
When this former Roy Rogers manager assumed control of the Marriott, the hotel proudly boasted five stars. Within six months, the property lost two stars. Next year, another star gone. Three years later, there were so many complaint letters coming in to the hotel, that the HR manager started shredding them – of course the letters that went directly to the corporate office were spared the shredder and alerted the owners of the property that something was wrong. I guess the fact that stars kept dropping off the reviews wasn’t enough to set off any alarm bells. They actually kept this General Manager for another two years, until the sales staff had all quit one day, (a mass exodus) and he had to recruit some of the banquet staff to make cold calls, prospecting new business.
The banquet staff were promised $100 for each signed contract. The banquet crew were mostly Mexican-Americans, who not only did not have a full command of the English language, but were so eager to get a sales contract ($100 was a lot of money!), that they started forging the paperwork.
They were given no training, no direction, nothing. They were however, given a copy of a miniature yellow pages (one per staff member), a hotel pad/pen, and 2 bottles of water; and, were seated in a large, empty conference room. Each recently-promoted-sales associate (Santiago, Juan, Hector #1, Hector #2, Chico, Enrique, Fidel, and Geraldo) had a telephone in front of them, and just flipped through the pages, talking about something that only they could understand. The HR manager came in to the conference room in the morning, briefly gave them a mini course in how to make cold calls – and then without staying to make sure they knew the details of their new job, he left them on their own.
For the first few hours, they chatted amongst themselves. The General Manager would eventually wonder in around 11:00 a.m. (five hours after the “sales staff” had started work in the conference room). He was always way too happy and everyone suspected that the coffee cup he never let go of, contained Wild Turkey (his favorite beverage); the closest he EVER came to a cup of coffee was when he was wondering around the kitchen and walked near the giant industrial coffee maker, while in the process of stealing desserts (he always stole desserts, foolishly believing that no one was on to him.)
So, about a week or so into their new assignment, one of the former banquet crew members had an idea. They absolutely could NOT make sales calls – but that was in no way an obstacle to their signed contracts or new financial success. One of the cold callers (Santiago), worked it out so that he could get contracts, collect his bonus money, work in the conference room all day long (sitting down without having to refresh butter in ballroom), and make the boss man (the drunkard General Manager) happy. It was too good to be true.
Santiago would go through the phone book and choose a business – any business at all because it didn’t matter. He would actually call the phone number, just once, and ask for the name of the manager. This may seem like a small feat, but because he hardly spoke English, this truly was a big deal. After confirming the manager’s name, he would fill out the sales contract, forging the signature of the business manager.
Common sense would tell any idiot (except for THIS-idiot-General-Manager), to hire a real staff, or at least check on the newly promoted banquet staff, to make sure they were aware of the seriousness of making cold calls, or that of forging sales contracts.
After the second week, Santiago had the entire “sales staff” earning thousands of dollars a day – every day (which is unheard of and should have been a red flag). The General Manager, who always gathered all of the hotel employees together every morning for a pep rally, was beside himself. He was actually singing, while spilling his “coffee drink.” He kept saying, “I should have thought of this years ago – teach a man to fish and he’ll make you a seafood feast.” No, of course this made no sense, unless you consumed an 8 ounce Starbucks cup of bourbon every few hours.
Every person who worked at that hotel knew what was going on. The one person, (the hotel’s only secretary), who tried to tell the General Manger of the potential danger of what he was doing, was met with screaming. The General Manager was overheard shouting at her, “Why don’t you mind your f*cking business; you’re jealous because I didn’t make you a sales associate. Things are great here and do you know why? Because I had the intelligence to promote the common man into a position of importance.”
After that, no one stepped in to help. We were all laughing, every morning when he would publicly present envelopes of brand new 100 dollar bills to HIS “successful sales staff.” We all just kept waiting for the REAL SALES STAFF to show up.
For almost 2 months, since the real Marriott sales staff all walked out from the property, the company had been actively recruiting new sales trainees. They were all scheduled to start about 1 month later, coming from Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. The entire hotel staff (including myself) was waiting for this – the fireworks when it would be discovered by the owners of this hotel property, that this General Manager was actually Bozo, the Drunken Clown!
The first day, when the new recruits (the REAL sales staff) arrived, they were moved into the lessor rooms of the hotel (free room and board was part of their employment contract) and could live in the hotel as long as they were working for the company.
The general manager welcomed them by closing the restaurant and hosting a dinner for them. They were all very young; the oldest just turning 25, meaning they were easily impressed by this show of hospitality. The drunk was so happy, he actually broke open a case of Dom Perignon.
The next day, during the 6:00 a.m. staff meeting (all the sales meetings started at this early hour; this was the first one since the unanimous walk out, three months ago), the drunk explained how successful the banquet staff had been in their efforts to prospect new business. The REAL sales staff were mystified, had he discovered gold? He dismissed the meeting and sent them to their new offices.
They got settled in and started calling the managers of the businesses that Santiago had “signed.” This was the moment that the rest of us, especially the hotel’s secretary, had been waiting for, dreaming about.
One by one, after telephoning the business managers, finding out that Santiago never actually signed any of these new contracts, left their offices and started lining up in front of Bozo’s office, forming a line, not knowing what to think about their discoveries. Could it actually be true, that a former banquet waiter, who was instructed to make cold calls for prospecting new business, said he did it, but in fact did not make any calls at all. What Santiago did do, was to forge a contract, and the general manager had no clue.
Bozo kept his door closed, and never came out. After about ten minutes or so, they started knocking on his door, calling his name. Nothing. After about a half an hour, there was a large, “bang.” Everyone’s first thought was that he shot himself (he bragged about having a gun in his desk drawer.) Engineering was called; the office door was smashed open. All eyes went to the hole in the ceiling. Bozo used a fake bronze statue from the “lost and found”, to pry open part of the ceiling. He stood on his desk and crawled out through a small tunnel, leaving his bourbon-soaked Starbucks cup, spilled on the floor.
He was seen, in an unceremoniously retreat, running down the street, dodging cars, walking in front of traffic.
We all waited for this: finally, justice! Bozo would be fired!
Would you believe it? Marriott sold that property to an investment company. After just 6 months, not only was this Bozo reinstated, he received a $100,000 bonus. He must have been the luckiest drunk in the history of the hospitality industry.
The secretary, who mailed off over 100 pages of documentation (along with signatures of the hotel-employee-witnesses), was fired one day after the investment company who now owned the property received her package of damning proof. She even included flash drives of video, taken by phone cams of just about everyone who had a cell phone, proving that this man’s judgment was extremely impaired by his unending thirst for good Kentucky bourbon.
The banquet staff were never fired, they were returned to the ballroom, practicing their technique of filling water glasses and refreshing butter and fresh bread.
The new sales staff, finding out that the property is no longer owned by Marriott, quit, one-by-one, until none of them remained. I later heard that they attempted a class action law suit against Marriott and then against the new owner, but could find no attorney to take the case.
Bozo still works at the property. Today, the hotel has no stars, no corporate flag. The occupancy rate is less than 20%. Rooms are rented mostly by truck drivers who pay cash (the hotel sits on an interstate highway) for one night for a bed and shower. Sometimes, prostitutes have been known to bring in some business.
At the writing of this confession, I made a phone call and confirmed that the property is for sale at a hugely discounted rate. And of course, Bozo is still there. Go figure.
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