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Hotel Management - My Biggest Mistake

Jon Sholter


Today, in less than 3 minutes, we are going to cover the following: Why you should share your mistakes with your team.

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People can learn a lot from your mistakes. However, many hotel leaders seem to be hesitant to share theirs. The fact is, sharing past and present mistakes can help strengthen your relationship with your peers and minimize the chances of your team making the same errors.

This leads to the question: How vulnerable are you with your team?

My biggest mistake in hotel operations occurred about 12 years ago when I was working at the front desk.

It was a busy Saturday at the peak of summer, and the hotel was fully booked. Among the reservations, we had a jacuzzi suite reserved for a wedding couple. I had the delightful task of decorating the room in the afternoon with the help of the bride's mom and dad. We carefully arranged rose petals, crafted towel art, and set up champagne and a bubble bath – the works.

The room looked gorgeous.

Hotel Management Urgent VS Important

By 10:30 PM, I had only two arrivals left: the bridal suite and a standard two-queen room booked via Expedia. Moments later, the wedding couple walked through the door, looking stunning in their tuxedos and dresses. I checked them in quickly, knowing the wonderful surprise that awaited them.

It was time to hand over the shift to the night colleague. With only one arrival left, I had nothing significant to report, except for my heartwarming encounter with the bride and groom. I went home, feeling content after a long day's work.

Suddenly, my phone buzzed with a call, waking me up from my sleep.

My colleague informed me that the wedding couple was at the front desk, waiting to check in. The system, however, showed that they were already checked in. I couldn't believe it. I personally checked that couple into their room at 10:30 PM, how could this be? I asked if they had checked the guests' IDs, hoping there was some mistake.

Unfortunately, there was no error.

I had mistakenly checked in the wrong wedding couple. One should have received the beautifully decorated Bridal Suite, but ended up in a Standard Two Queen room, while the other received an unexpected upgrade. I recalled taking the IDs from the guests but, instead of adequately reading them, I made assumptions. It was a critical lapse, as one's identity verification is one of the fundamental rules for Front Desk Agents.

The realization hit me hard – I had ruined their special wedding night.


For years after this incident, I shared this story with every Guest Service Agent I trained.

Telling a genuine tale from my own experience, from someone they knew and respected (well, hopefully), made it easier for them to understand and apply hotel policies. They learned from my mistake without having to experience it firsthand, benefiting both themselves and the hotel. I doubt anyone thought less of me because of sharing this error; in fact, I believe the opposite is true.

Take some time to reflect on the lessons you've learned. Who could benefit from hearing those lessons? What's stopping you from sharing them? If it's your ego, insecurity, or shame, you can be sure, you, your colleagues, and your hotel will be better off if you share.

P.S. For the record, I have made much larger mistakes since this time :)


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