Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't touch the glasses

As someone who has stayed in quite a few hotels in the past I find the attached clip disturbing but while I am sure it is not a universal problem it is probably symptomatic of an industry where the staff are low paid and the guests high paying. The only real winner is the hotel owner.

Or as George Orwell rather better described it in " Down and Out in Paris and London" his semi-autobiographical work that described his experiences working in the French hospitality industry:

"Similarly with the PLONGEUR (general washer-upper). He is a king compared with a rickshaw puller or a gharry pony, but his case is analogous. He is the slave of a hotel or a restaurant, and his slavery is more or less useless. For, after all, where is the REAL need of big hotels and smart restaurants? They are supposed to provide luxury, but in reality they provide only a cheap, shoddy imitation of it. Nearly everyone hates hotels. Some restaurants are better than others, but it is impossible to get as good a meal in a restaurant as one can get, for the same expense, in a private house. No doubt hotels and restaurants must exist, but there is no need that they should enslave hundreds of people. What makes the work in them is not the essentials; it is the shams that are supposed to represent luxury. Smartness, as it is called, means, in effect, merely that the staff work more and the customers pay more; no one benefits except the proprietor, who will presently buy himself a striped villa at Deauville. Essentially, a 'smart' hotel is a place where a hundred people toil like devils in order that two hundred may pay through the nose for things they do not really want. If the nonsense were cut out of hotels and restaurants, and the work done with simple efficiency, PLONGEURS might work six or eight hours a day instead often or fifteen.

I once got a job offer from a hotel chain to work as an auditor. I am rather glad I didn't accept it.

Thanks to Iain Dale for highlighting this clip.

If I didn't already, I will re-wash any glasses I drink from in hotel rooms. Although the level of trust we have to place in the hospitality industry in general is frightening to think about.

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