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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Jacob Tomsky

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Member:akerr
Title:Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Authors:Jacob Tomsky
Info:Doubleday (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:hotels

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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky (2012)

Recently added byY2Ash, bethanyinthetaiga, JuneThomas, private library, reid65, lbelecki, jeff.coatsworth
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Heads in Beds is a memoir by Jacob Tomsky describing his ongoing love hate career in the hotel and hospitality industry. It is hilarious, raunchy, poignant, and entertaining as all hell. Tomsky does a great job of stripping the hotel business bare, showing warts and all, yet made it appealing. No doubt to his self-effacing and blunt attitude. He really went to town in the beginning pages on how useless his Philosophy degree was. Honestly, unless you were becoming a professor or getting your doctorate, it was pretty useless...

Although, I have never worked in the hotel industry, I have worked, and still do, in customer service and have felt, and feel the way Tomsky describes in Heads. Especially dealing with customers who feel entitled. Like the whole name tag thing. I get so annoyed and a little creeped out when customers call me by my name. It's a form of either intimidating or condescending me. The result is to make me feel small and know my place.

On a more serious note, Tomsky's feelings of burnout and drinking copious amounts of alcohol resonated with me as well. I do love him spilling all of the trade secrets of booking a reservation at a hotel and all of the tipping poltics involved. It makes want to employ such moves. Heads in Beds shows a view of a industry that has never been quite brutally before. It reminds me of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Heads in Beds is a memoir by Jacob Tomsky describing his ongoing love hate career in the hotel and hospitality industry. It is hilarious, raunchy, poignant, and entertaining as all hell. Tomsky does a great job of stripping the hotel business bare, showing warts and all, yet made it appealing. No doubt to his self-effacing and blunt attitude. He really went to town in the beginning pages on how useless his Philosophy degree was. Honestly, unless you were becoming a professor or getting your doctorate, it was pretty useless...

Although, I have never worked in the hotel industry, I have worked, and still do, in customer service and have felt, and feel the way Tomsky describes in Heads. Especially dealing with customers who feel entitled. Like the whole name tag thing. I get so annoyed and a little creeped out when customers call me by my name. It's a form of either intimidating or condescending me. The result is to make me feel small and know my place.

On a more serious note, Tomsky's feelings of burnout and drinking copious amounts of alcohol resonated with me as well. I do love him spilling all of the trade secrets of booking a reservation at a hotel and all of the tipping poltics involved. It makes want to employ such moves. Heads in Beds shows a view of a industry that has never been quite brutally before. It reminds me of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Heads in Beds is a memoir by Jacob Tomsky describing his ongoing love hate career in the hotel and hospitality industry. It is hilarious, raunchy, poignant, and entertaining as all hell. Tomsky does a great job of stripping the hotel business bare, showing warts and all, yet made it appealing. No doubt to his self-effacing and blunt attitude. He really went to town in the beginning pages on how useless his Philosophy degree was. Honestly, unless you were becoming a professor or getting your doctorate, it was pretty useless...

Although, I have never worked in the hotel industry, I have worked, and still do, in customer service and have felt, and feel the way Tomsky describes in Heads. Especially dealing with customers who feel entitled. Like the whole name tag thing. I get so annoyed and a little creeped out when customers call me by my name. It's a form of either intimidating or condescending me. The result is to make me feel small and know my place.

On a more serious note, Tomsky's feelings of burnout and drinking copious amounts of alcohol resonated with me as well. I do love him spilling all of the trade secrets of booking a reservation at a hotel and all of the tipping poltics involved. It makes want to employ such moves. Heads in Beds shows a view of a industry that has never been quite brutally before. It reminds me of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Summary: Jacob Tomsky didn't plan on a career in hospitality, but as an aimless recent graduate, it was the life he fell into, and as he found out, it's a hard one to leave. He started on valet service at a newly-opened luxury hotel in New Orleans, and eventually rose up through the ranks, from supervising the housekeeping department, to working the front desk of a luxury hotel in New York City. In this book, he tells his story while simultaneously cluing the public in to what goes behind the scenes of the hospitality industry - what's really happening in the parking garage, the laundry, the service department, and the minds of the various staff members whose job it is to make guests' stays comfortable, even when those guests are behaving badly (as they are wont to do). He also tosses out tips about how to get an upgraded room, a late check-out, free pay-per-view or items from the minibar, why not to use the provided drinking glasses, and to generally get the best treatment from everyone at the hotel (Short version: tip generously and frequently.)

Review: This type of book is like candy for me. Is it of high literary merit? Of course not. But I devour it anyways.

The best description of this book is "Kitchen Confidental for hotels"; and while I imagine Anthony Bourdain must be tired of that type of description (or maybe not, maybe he loves it?), it's the best touchstone I have for this kind of behind-the-scenes work-a-day service-provider memoir. (Hence, I've used it before, for waiter memoirs like Service Included and Waiter Rant.) I love this kind of book because it allows me into a world I will never see on my own, makes me feel like an insider, one of the cool kids. Of course, I'm not an insider, at all, and even the secret tips aren't all that relevant: I stay at luxury hotels about as often as I eat at high-end restaurants, i.e. never, and it's not like the motels I usually wind up in even have a minibar or bellboys for me to tip. But I still find it fascinating to know about the way that hotels schedule reservations, and flip rooms, and deal with guest issues, and what the lives of people that work there might be like on a daily basis. Actually, the one tip that is maybe most useful is that bookings made through discount sites tend to get the worst rooms, since people picking a hotel based on the price aren't going to be repeat customers whose loyalty will be improved by perks.

Tomsky's writing is not flawless, nor is it fancy and literary and polished, but it is hella funny, and with a natural storytelling rhythm. Like Kitchen Confidential, this book definitely has the tone of sitting down for beers with the author and shooting the shit and then he starts telling crazy stories about his job (also similar to Whatever You Do, Don't Run in that way). It is crass in places, sure, and appalling in others, but there are also some interesting insights. For example, Tomsky points out that people tend to treat hotel rooms like they're their homes, when of course, your room is always only semi-private, since hotel staff will almost always be in and out of there if you're staying for more than a night, and that a lot of conflicts between staff and guests arise from this disparity. It's maybe not the deepest revelation ever, but (as I was reading this while staying in a hotel in Baltimore) it did ring rather true. So, much like Kitchen Confidential and Service Included made me more conscientious about dining out, Heads in Beds made me more conscientious about sleeping out, while simultaneously being a ton of fun to read. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for frequent travelers, as well as those who like grown-up, job-centric, behind-the-scenes memoirs. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Apr 3, 2014 |
This book was actually more entertaining than I had expected when I first picked it up. At times it is downright hilarious when Tomsky describes the riff-raff that collects along Bourbon Street each evening. It does tend to get bogged down a bit during his prolonged narrative of his experiences at the New York hotel. Also he drifts into just a rehashing of what happened to hid career as management descends upon him like in most jobs. But overall he does a pretty good job of keeping the reader entertained with the salty descriptions and language. Also you get some decent tips regarding everything from, yeah tips, what to say and not to say. and what to ask for and not ask for on your stay. Hopefully his stay in New York won't harden him beyond what it all ready has in becoming the typical New Yorker many of us disdain. ( )
  knightlight777 | Mar 19, 2014 |
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I've worked in hotels for more than a decade.  (Introduction)
I am standing on St. Charles Avenue, uptown New Orleans, a few months out of college and a few weeks into summer.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385535635, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: Always tip. If you can’t tip, be nice. And if you can’t manage either, you might be better off unwrapping a new toothbrush every day. That’s just one lesson to be learned from Jacob Tomsky’s gonzo account of his years as a front-desk clerk at hotels in New Orleans and New York. From the glad-handing doormen to the unsung workers in the “back of the house,” Tomsky exposes the machinery and machinations that make luxury hotels run (if not always smoothly), advising his potential guests about whose palms to grease (and how much) in order to get that coveted park-view upgrade. Informative and mildly salacious, Heads in Beds is an entertaining peek inside the places people go to get away, and the stunts they pull when they get there. --Jon Foro


Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Jacob Tomsky

When I started working in hotels the computer screens glowed in one color, alien green, and the monitors were the size of boulders. We used to confidently toss comment cards in the trash (or, as we referred to it, file them in the “T” file) making them disappear forever. I used to cash checks by picking up the phone and speaking to another human being. Music in the lobby was usually provided by a piano player, who would swivel his head at passing guests with a ridiculous, pasty-looking smile as he tapped out non-offensive cover songs played with a non-offensive classical flourish.

Now, mid-volume, beat-heavy techno seeps from recessed speakers built into the lobby’s crown molding. The screens are flat. You can’t manage to direct anything from Trip Advisor into the “T” file and all the guests want to hook up their iPad to the toilet or whatever. And if you pay with a check I still have to pick up the phone, which is extremely irritating because who pays with checks anymore? Stop it.

But all of that change means nothing. Because I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed: The front desk agents, the bellmen, the doormen, the housekeepers, the room service attendants, and the managers. Hotel employees are still version 1.0 and I guarantee if you brought me to a bar and sat me next to a front desk agent from 1897, we’d over-drink and swap the same type of hilarious stories about the same type of insane guests. Hospitality, no matter how slick it gets, will always be a business run by people who serve people. It will always be about service. It will always take a person to explain that, no, you cannot hook up your iPad to the toilet but you can use it to control the lights and wirelessly play music through the in-room speaker system. And guests still, and hopefully will forever, hand me physical comment cards, which I will continue to throw in the trash.

During all these renovations (while I said things like, “Wait, they made the internet wireless? It’s in the goddamn air now?”) I was always writing. I grew up reading novel after novel and that’s all I wanted from life, to give back and write something good. After years of hotel work and relocations that took me from New Orleans to Paris to Copenhagen and ultimately New York City, I finally conceived the idea for Heads in Beds. I put everything I had into it, all my knowledge of the industry and the writing skills I’d developed since I was a child. I truly hope you find it funny and informative and that it helps you navigate the crooked halls of hospitality. That has always been my goal, to write something good.

That and hang out with a front desk agent from 1897.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:14 -0400)

"A humorous memoir by a veteran hospitality employee that reveals what goes on behind the scenes of the hotel business. Includes tips on how to get the most out of your hotel stay"--

(summary from another edition)

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