Keep it Simpler

Getting started with the booking engine is easy. We've broken down the process into four simple steps.

Prerequisites

To use the booking engine, you would need the following:

Step 1 - Signup for a free 1Day.io account

If you already have a 1Day account, you can skip this step.

1.1. Signup to 1Day.io and add rooms

Go to 1day.io/signup

Enter your email and password or Sign up with Google.

Follow the Quick Start Guide to add rooms, room types and rates.

1.2. Create a new user and generate an API Key

Next we need to create a new user and API key that will be used to connect the booking engine. To do this go to Settings > Users, and click Add User.

Give this new user an email and password, then select the Editor role.

Then click on the ... more options, and click on Generate API Key.

Copy the new API key that was generated, you will need to enter this later.

Click on both the API-addbooking and API-availability roles to give access to that API Key.

Step 2 - Install the free WooCommerce plugin

If you already have WooCommerce installed you can skip this step.

WooCommerce is the world's most popular eCommerce platform. The booking engine will use WooCommerce for all payment gateways and room details such as descriptions and photos. It is not possible to proceed without installing WooCommerce.

Go to your WordPress admin page and follow this short guide on how to install WooCommerce.

After installing WooCommerce, make sure that you have at least one payment method enabled.

Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Payments, and click on the Enabled column.

For testing purposes, you can just enable Direct bank transfer. You can always change this later.

Step 3 - Install 1Day Booking Engine

3.1. Download the plugin

Go to https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/1day-io.zip

Click on download to save a copy of the plugin to your computer.

3.2. Install the plugin

Go to your WordPress admin page, and click plugins.

Click Add New, then Upload Plugin.

Select the .zip file that you downloaded in the previous step. Click Install Now, then Activate Plugin.

3.3. Enter API key

Still on the WordPress Admin page, Go to 1Day Options on the left menu.

Enter the 1Day API Key that you generated earlier in Step 1, and click Save Changes.

3.4. Synchronize rooms and hotels

After clicking Save, the table on the page will automatically update to show the number of hotels and room types that the API key has access to.

Click Synchronize.

This will sync hotels and room types into WooCommerce.

If you do not see anything here, please go back to Step 1.2, and make sure that you have the correct API Key and API permissions configured.

Step 4 - Customize the booking engine

4.1. Prepare pages in WordPress

The booking engine needs two pages:

One, a page that will display the search form where the user will choose the dates of their stay (check-in and check-out). This is usually the home page.

Two, a page that will display the search results of available rooms based on the user's parameters.

It is highly recommended that you use test pages while configuring the plugin. Ideally you can just duplicate your existing home page and the page where you want to display the available rooms. Then you can call these your test pages.

It's also possible to show both the search form and the search results on the same page if you like.

Take note of the full url of the page that will display the search results.

In this example, we will use this url:

https://yavinn-prod.websitetohotel.com/accommodation/

4.2. 1Day filters

Go to 1Day Options > 1Day filters, and click Add filter

Filters are what configures the search form and search results.

First enter a name for the filter, and in the URL field, specify the page from the previous step.

Then select the hotel that you will query for availability. Depending on your API key, you may have one or multiple hotels available.

The rest of the settings affect the display of the search form and search results. Feel free to customize it to fit your WordPress theme.

If you want to copy the demo, it uses the following settings:

Hide sorting:  Checked Yes
Default sorting:  Price (from low to high)
One line:  Checked Yes
Form alignment:  Center
Form width:  900px
Background color:  #22222288
Font color:  #ffffff
Border radius:  3px
Button border radius:  5px

Once done, click on Publish.

Then take note of the shortcodes on the right side. These shortcodes are what would allow us to insert the booking engine inside your WordPress pages.

4.3. Customize WooCommerce room settings

Internally, Rooms are considered as another type of product in WooCommerce.

We would need to customize them by adding descriptions and photos.

First, in the WordPress admin page, go to Products > All products

You should see the rooms that have been synchronized from your 1Day account. Click on any of the rooms.

Next, enter a description for the room. This would be displayed once a visitor selects this room on the front-end.

Scroll down a bit to the Product data section and select Room.

Here you can indicate a short description that would appear on the search results table. This is also where you can upload the main product image (on the right), as well as a product gallery if you wish.

The rest of the fields, such as reviews and product categories are displayed according to your specific WordPress theme. Some themes may ignore them completely, so please check first on the theme that you are using.

Once done, click on Publish/Update. Repeat this process for all the other rooms.

4.4. Add shortcodes

Next go to the pages where you want to display both the search form and the search results.

Again, it is highly recommended that you make changes to a test page first. Note that you can have both the search form and search results display on the same test page if you like.

Adding shortcodes would depend largely on your WordPress theme. Some themes display shortcodes seamlessly, while others require more customizations. If you are not familiar with how to update your WordPress site, please consult with your website developer before making any changes.

Basically, while editing a page, position your cursor where you want to insert. Then click on the plus (+) button to add a block, and select Shortcode among the options. Next paste the shortcode text on the field provided.

In this example, we want to display the search form on the main homepage, so we go there and add the shortcode to the space below the headline.

Then we go to the page where we want to display the search results, and add the corresponding short code there.

Once done, click Update and/or Publish on both pages.

4.5. Test Booking

Now we are ready to perform a test booking. Visit the test page where you added the search form and select a check-in and check-out date.

You will see the list of rooms, click on Show Rates.

This will display the different Rate Plans for that room. Choose one, and select Book. Note that you can change the rates and rate plans by going to 1Day.io > Rates.

Finally, complete the billing details and choose a payment method. Then click Place Order.

After a few seconds, you will see the new booking appear on your 1Day calendar.

Once you've confirmed that everything is working, you can update the payment methods in WooCommerce, and add the shortcodes to the actual customer facing pages (not just the test pages). And then you can start accepting direct bookings.

And that is how you setup the 1Day booking engine. We have a lot of new features in the works and we're excited to hear what you think of the plugin. Please send us a message by clicking on the chat button on the lower right of this page.

Hope to see you there!

Here's an easy way to visualize where the bookings in the property management system came from.

This can aid staff in quickly identifying the source for each booking and perform any standard procedures normally associated with those sources.

For example, a certain online travel agency (OTA) can send bookings to the property that are either "Pay at the Hotel" or "Prepaid". You can choose to assign a different color to each so that staff knows what to do right away. This reduces errors and makes for a smoother check-in process.

Another scenario is when you have multiple travel agencies sending bookings to your property. Similarly, you can easily assign a different color to each travel agency.

To enable this view, click on the 3 dots "..." options on the upper right side of the calendar, and select "Use Source Colors".

Here's how it looks like.

To set the actual source colors, go to 1Day Settings > Property > Sources

You will see a table with a list of sources, click on any row to go to edit mode. Then select an option in the "Color" column.

Sources with no color assigned will have a gray color.

You can create new sources by clicking on the "Add Source" button.

And if you are connected to a channel manager, bookings that came from the corresponding OTA will automatically be assigned with that source and color. Otherwise, for manually created bookings such as traditional travel agencies, you can select the appropriate source upon creation of the booking.

Note that the calendar's default color scheme (whether to use source colors or not), is set per user. But there is an admin setting to change the default color scheme by going to 1Day Settings > Property > Extras > Default Calendar Color.

Future Improvements

Questions

To implement both improvements above, we are studying how to display different source colors alongside color-coded tags. But won't it cause "color overload" and veer away from the simplicity of the calendar?

Do you have an idea on how to combine both color-coded tags and color-coded bookings in one simple view?

For basic housekeeping, many properties don't want to have to update a very long and complicated online checklist. Too many steps and it starts to get in the way of staff actually performing their duties, and learning the most efficient way to do it.

For this, we've come up with a very simple way to indicate whether the room is dirty or ready for check-in.

It involves a button that toggles between "READY", "DIRTY" and No Status. Clicking on the button just alternates between these values.

To see this feature, click on the More options button on the upper right of the calendar, and select "Show Room Status"

Once updated, the status will reflect across all users.

There is also a mobile view for quick updates.

Future Improvements

Questions

A drop-down list takes 3x the steps as a simple toggle button. The user would have to click once, move the mouse, then select the target option. Conversely, sticking to a toggle button, and cycling thru many options would require a lot of clicks.

Our main goal is always to find the simplest way. Any ideas on how we can design the housekeeping feature that would allow many different statuses, but would still be simple enough to use frequently?

What other features do you think are the simplest way to do housekeeping? Please let us know by clicking on the chat button on the right.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a simple and free hotel management software to help you run your small hotel?

After all, your operations aren't that complicated, or at least you don't want it to be. Or maybe you are just starting and are wisely trying to save costs. Surely, there should be free systems out there.

There are. But there are also trade-offs. Let's talk about them briefly using a little boat analogy.

The trade-offs

1 - Completely free but no incentive to keep it updated

Think of your hotel software as a boat in a river. You ride this boat to travel to beautiful and hopefully profitable destinations. The boat must always be moving forward, propelled by a good engine, otherwise it would drift aimlessly wherever the current flows.

To keep that engine running smoothly, the makers of the boat need sufficient financial incentives or they simply won't have the resources nor the motivation to provide the necessary support. If that happens, you would be left paddling on your own. Such a situation usually ends up costing you more in time, energy, and lost opportunities.

And just like the boat makers, there must be good enough incentives for the software maker to keep providing updates. So you will never be at risk of being left alone. For hotel software, continuous updates means new features, fixes to issues and ongoing support when you have questions.

Software that is completely free needs to look for that incentive somewhere else. This can be rather obscure instead of a simple, clearly recognisable subscription fee. Sometimes, this obscurity even leads to privacy concerns as the maker is incentivised to sell your information instead. For as they say, "If the product is totally free, then you are the product".

Now, what if you are in no hurry to get to any particular destination? Like the boat analogy, perhaps you just want to enjoy the view. Take it slowly? Then there is less of a need for an engine that is constantly updated, right?

Yes, for a while. Until you realise that you might have drifted into risky territory.

Hotel software is just like a boat that needs good upkeep. Failure to do so risks vulnerabilities, degraded performance and higher fuel costs.

Even if there are no new sparkling features needed, the existing version that you have is under constant threat of security vulnerabilities and incompatibilities with changes to the internet at large. Including the browsers you use to access it. So once again, if your software isn't moving forward, it's actually drifting away.

Therefore, you might find software that is completely free, but it usually comes at the risk of lacking continuous updates and support. And there is a risk that what you save in fees, you end up paying more for in time, energy and opportunity costs.

2 - Free but limited in time (as in free trial only)

Continuing the boat analogy, you might find a vessel that is free to use, but only for a short period. This might be good for a brief holiday, but you can't really get to know the boat. You won't have the chance to grow with it.

In the past, I was part of a team that deployed a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) to a large client. I realised that they achieved the best results when the systems grew with the company.

The company was able to immerse themselves fully with the system and at a pace that is comfortable for them. This led the company to carefully evaluate the supporting human processes needed to set up the system — and themselves — for success.

Examples of supporting human processes include how each department talks to each other, how they escalate issues, what checks and balances are in place, which roles need to be altered, or new ones created.

A free system that is limited in time creates pressure to rush changes to these processes. I'm not saying we should introduce a long delay, for we should definitely move as fast as is reasonable. But the free trial duration shouldn't be the main reason behind the speed of changes.

Rather, we should plan the roll-out of these systems based on what is best for the company, not based on an arbitrary free trial period.

Furthermore, changes to these human processes aren't immediately obvious. And it could take many months of experimentation before the company arrives at the optimal setup. Don't deprive yourself of that chance to experiment. Worse, trying to rush these new processes can sometimes lead to more chaos and the staff rejecting the new system.

A time-limited free trial is a good start. But do not let it dictate how fast you make changes to the organization that will use it.

3 - Free but needs too much workarounds and lacks support

Or perhaps the system is indeed free with no time limits. However, there could be significant limitations in features such that you don't really derive much value from it. Or you have to resort to confusing workarounds.

"No problem, it's only a few extra steps that the staff need to do." One might say. But this could lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities. Every minute that staff is wasting on workarounds is time that they are not using towards the improvement of the hotel.

For our small hotel's system, before we built 1Day, we tried a free/low-cost plugin for the popular WordPress platform. After a few months, I realised we were spending so much time on things such as correcting input errors. And it was always a struggle to convince the staff to keep using it. In the end, we decided that it was not worth the effort.

And then there's support. If there is no financial incentive for the software maker, it would be rather difficult for them to sustain high quality personalised support. You might end up having to google your way to resolve issues on your own. Think about how much time that would cost.

And as hoteliers, we expect the kind of customer support that genuinely listens and doesn't just throw templated answers at us. We expect support that truly empathises with our problem and thinks proactively about solving them even before we know it. Customer support that makes us feel at home while using the software day in and day out.

Software that makes staff feel at home, adds one more propellant to making guests feel at home too.

Consider carefully if the free software will require you to have to do too many workarounds. Though some workarounds are okay, make sure it doesn't cost more in time than the value you are getting. And what is the level of support that you get for free? It would be a good idea to send the software provider with a few support inquiries to see how they respond.

How 1Day is different

Perhaps we've over-used the boat analogy, but since we've made it this far, let's stick with it =)

If it were a boat, 1Day is offering free use and no time limits. And instead, charge only once you've reached some mileage. That is, once you've reached a certain level of bookings in a month. This ensures that you get value out of the experience first, and at your own pace.

We don't rush you into trying out all aspects of the software. You can use the system for free for as long as you like within the threshold, and only when you are ready to accept more bookings will the charges start.

We also don't limit the basic features, even on the free tier. Though advanced features won't be available until you upgrade, the basic features should be enough to operate your small hotel with ease.

Needless to say, 1Day does not rely on advertisements and will never sell your information to 3rd parties. Our free tier is supported only by subscriptions to the paid plans.

How can 1Day make this work? The key is in the simplicity. By not trying to be "all in one", 1Day is able to avoid the extra costs caused by complex systems. And by not trying to be "software for all", 1Day is able to bring laser focus on small hotels.

This directly translates to higher efficiency at lower costs. Enabling 1Day to offer a free version while still providing continuous updates and support.

Give 1Day a spin and you might just find what you are looking for. Click here to sign-up for free.

Or is there something else in your mind? Perhaps something you agree or disagree with? Please say hello by clicking on the chat button to the right.

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The Problem

"We are a dive resort and sometimes there's confusion between the hotel's front-desk and the dive shop about booking details. How can we keep them in sync?"

Sometimes the dive shop isn't informed of the latest updates to the guest bookings. For example, were there changes to the schedule, number of guests, package inclusions? Which guests paid for which packages? When are the guests checking-out?

And on the other hand, sometimes the front-desk isn't immediately informed of updates to the diving activities. Did the guest schedule another dive? Were there extra equipment used?

If the hotel encounters delays in reconciling these information, they risk incurring billing errors and can lead to some very unhappy guests.

Our Solution

Make it easy for staff to manage rooms and diving activities in the same calendar. And make it very flexible so it can adapt to each resort's unique processes.

The example used here is for a dive resort, but the same can be applied to any resort that offers activities as part of their usual packages.

The solution includes three components:

1 - Simple calendar setup

In the 1Day calendar, a "room" can be any kind of bookable unit. Aside from the usual rooms, the hotel can add activities such as dive courses, fun dives, island tours, and many others.

Adding activities is done in the same way as adding rooms. Just go to the Settings > Rooms page.

These rooms can then be displayed together as a group in the calendar. You can also specify the display sequence or sort order of each group. As well as hide groups that are no longer being used.

It is useful to note that this type of grouping is just for display and is completely independent from how the rooms are connected to the hotel's various sales channels.

So there is no need to worry that making changes to the grouping might affect the inventory that is pushed out to those channels. This is specially important if your hotel is connected to a channel manager.

2 - Link related bookings

After setup, you can create separate bookings under each room and activity. And these bookings can be linked together for the same guest.

For example, you can have a booking named "Luke Skywalker" for Room 101, and another booking named "Luke | OW 2PAX" for the Open water dive course activity. They do not need to have the same start and end dates.

There are two ways to link these bookings:

For simplicity, we use the guest's primary email address as the main identifier for each contact. Once a contact profile is connected to a booking, you can open that profile and see a timeline of all the other linked bookings. Like this:

You can then search for all bookings using that email address like this:

3 - Designate user roles

The dive shop staff and the hotel staff sometimes need to have different access levels. They do not all need to have access to the same information. To support this, 1Day comes with various user roles that can designate who can view/edit bookings and charges.

For example, this user was given view only rights and cannot see the full charges of the booking. This user can only see if there is a balance.

User roles can be configured by going to the Settings > users page.

In the future, we plan to create more user roles to distinguish between dive shop staff and hotel staff.

In Summary

Syncing the hotel front-desk and the dive shop in real-time can reduce confusion and costly mistakes. To achieve this, 1Day provides a simple approach to manage both rooms and activities in a single, easy to use calendar.

What do you think of this solution? Will this help your dive resort? Please let us know by clicking on the chat button on the right.

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Continued from here.

Nicolas stood by the small dock. It's a quarter past 5 in the morning and the boat was rocking gently in the low tide. Half the boat was resting on the sandy beach. He was joined by Jun, the resort's boatman, quietly slurping his morning coffee.

After inspecting the boat and seeing everything ready, Nicolas headed to Ms. Venera's suite. On the way there, he passed by another guest in the breakfast area, "Hello Mr. Crawford." He said.

"Hello Nicolas, it's a fine day.", greeted Mr. Crawford nonchalantly.

"Indeed sir, have a good day!", replied Nicolas.

The breakfast area was the central hub that led to all sections of the resort. Nicolas continued to the east side towards the exclusive suites.

When he arrived at the doorstep, he found the door ajar.

"Good morning, Ms. Venera?", Nicolas greeted after a soft knock on the door.

No response.

Nicolas knocked again, "Hello, Ms. Vene...."

"Yes?", Ms. Venera answered from behind him.

Nicolas did a tenkan turn. Felt dizzy for half a second, but recovered quickly. "The boat is ready at your convenience, Ma'am".

"Good. Help me get my things", Ms. Venera said as she walked past him into the room.

As Nicolas followed inside, his eyes went again to the bed's headboard. The gecko was still there, albeit turned around. It was now facing the ceiling. The tail twitched.

Ms. Venera disappeared into the alcove leading to the bathroom.

Now is my chance. Nicolas moved towards the gecko. With a grunt, he tossed a pillow smack into the lizard. But the critter casually moved away at the last moment, deciding not to take its chances against the sack of cotton. It then slowly returned to its old spot as if nothing happened.

Nicolas grabbed the pillow again.

"What are you doing??", chided Ms. Venera.

"Just making sure the pillows are fluffy for you, Ma'am", Nicolas said as he made a show of delicately puffing the linen.


They made their way back to the boat. Nicolas helped carry a light bag of swim clothes and the pillow that he "contaminated" earlier with his bare hands. Ms. Venera carried a small velvet pouch.

Jun snapped to attention upon seeing them arrive.

Nicolas introduced him, "Ms. Venera, please meet Jun, our captain for this trip. Jun is also trained as an army reserve. He shall provide the best security for us".

Ms. Venera slowly appraised Jun from head to toe. Though he was fully dressed, Jun felt otherwise. His arms involuntarily rose to cover his chest. He normally didn't have a problem walking about brandishing his bare belly, but her icy gaze felt like he wasn't wearing anything at all.

"Didn't you drive me yesterday from the airport?", Ms. Venera addressed the boatman.

"That was not me Ma'am, It was Jared".

"Oh, you two look very similar" (They look nothing of the sort)

"Ahhh.. Yes, Ma'am", replied Jun. Thinking Less talk, less mistakes.

As they moved towards the boat, a rough voice called out, "Hey! Do you have space for one more?"

Ms. Venera froze.

Mr. Crawford, or Ben as he preferred to be called, stepped towards them.

"What are you doing here, Ben?", seethed Ms. Venera.

"I would like to enjoy an island tour.", Ben replied, un-moved. "And I know what you want to do." Ben looked at the velvet pouch she was holding. "I have a right to those ashes too".

Nicolas watched in dismay as the two guests became increasingly hostile. He had no idea that they knew each other.

"Mr. Crawford, sorry to interrupt." interrupted Nicolas. "I did not know that you wanted to go on an island tour as well. We can certainly get another boat for you if you prefer."

Ben looked at Ms. Venera, he looked deflated. "I just want to say goodbye one last time before you scatter her ashes," He pleaded.

After a long pause, Ms. Venera ruled, "You may join, but you may not talk."

"Okay, this way ladies and gentlemen", Nicolas tried to be upbeat as much as possible. Jun had already escaped to the boat on the first sign of confrontation. He hurried back out to help the passengers board. After settling down, they pushed off the shallow dock and began heading out to sea.

But before they can go far, there was a blur of movement in the passenger galley. Ben dashed to where Ms. Venera was seated, snatched the velvet pouch, and jumped over to the beach.


Nicolas yelled for Jun to stop.

"No, let him go." Ms. Venera commanded calmly. "Proceed as planned."

They watched as Ben eagerly waded on the beach; the pouch held high over his shoulder. Once he reached high ground, he turned around and might have been trying to say something. But they were too far away to hear it.

Nicolas wondered if that was a warning for him and Jun of what would come next.

Then Nicolas saw something he never thought possible. There was a tear coming down Ms. Venera's cheek, the rest of her sat still as a rock.

Nicolas sat down a respectable distance in the galley. He turned his head slightly away from her and bowed a little. He recalled his training when he was starting at the hotel, Be fully present but never intruding.

He tried to think about what to say.

When he looked up, she was no longer there. Then there were footsteps in the dry room where they kept most of the bags. Ms. Venera re-emerged holding a small black pouch. "This is what Ben came for."


Half an hour later, they arrived at a small atoll. Jun was reaching the limits of the mandatory silence and was about to belch out some unimportant announcement when Nicolas shushed him to be quiet. Jun sighed deeply.

Ms. Venera was saying a few words. Might even be praying?

Nicolas assumed his station, ready to offer assistance when called. When none came, and he got tired, he gently approached her and asked, "Ms. Venera, would you like us to help with..." he signaled to the pouch.

Ms. Venera's eyes were very different now. Gone was the cold-blooded she-devil stare. In its place were eyes not unlike a little girl, afraid and alone.

"You know we can also arrange for a full ceremony if you like. We're here for you, Ms. Venera." Nicolas tried his most re-assuring tone.

Ms. Venera inhaled deeply. "Thank you, but that will not be necessary. My mother would prefer something simple. I would prefer something simple."

With that, she opened the pouch and poured the ashes to the sea.


Back at the resort that night, Ms. Venera skipped the evening meals. She cried for the memory of her mother. They had a testy relationship. She had loathed and loved her in equal measure.

She was angry at herself for being weak. And she cried because she doesn't really understand why she was crying.

She hated the situation she is in. She hated the hotel and everything that has happened. She hated everyone.

Then, as if a gift from above, she heard a sound.


Ms. Venera emerged the next day. She had resumed her regal bearing, chin held high and quick to disperse anybody situated along her path. Her all black attire was accentuated with a brownish-green lizard held close to her bosom.

She caressed the gecko gently in the head. The lizard responded affectionately by stretching its neck towards her palm. Closing its eyes ever so softly.

"How was your stay so far, Ms. Venera?", Nicolas asked as they met in the breakfast hall.

The lizard gave Nicolas a look of disdain, twitched its tail, and turned its head away.

Nicolas resisted the urge to comment on cold-blooded beings sticking together.

Ms. Venera stroked the gecko again, "There was a point that I thought things can't get any worse. But thanks to my new friend here, I can see there have been some improvements from before."

And for the first time, Ms. Venera notched up from a quarter to a half-smile.


Nicolas was as relieved as he can be. Improvement. That's what she said. That means our "Can do" attitude is paying off.

Nicolas was walking over to the front desk, when the receptionist on duty called to him. She handed him a letter from Mr. Ben Crawford, who had checked out early a few minutes ago.

Nicolas opened the letter. It read: "There is more about the ashes than what Ms. Venera is saying. Call me if you want to know."

Continued from here.

The last time Ms. Venera stayed at the Grand Coral, she had insisted on the town ordinance of no smoking in public places. And since the curbside is technically a public place, she proclaimed that any whiff of smoke reaching her would be in violation of said edict. The same goes for the beach area.

The Grand Coral also has a no smoking indoors policy, so technically there's no place to smoke. She insisted.

She had copies of said town ordinance which she copiously distributed to other guests. They were doing their best to ignore her while enjoying their tobacco. This only caused Ms. Venera to treat them with extra attention.

The hotel staff pleaded with her to allow other guests some peace and quiet, but she was quick to point out the hotel's own policies which she is only helping enforce.

After a while, the guests realize that the only way to extricate themselves from her is to vacate the premises and just find another place to indulge their habit.

Unfortunately for the hotel, this sometimes meant inside their rooms with the windows open. It took the housekeeping team several days and tons of Febreze to reduce the tobacco scent.

But one guest wouldn't budge and gave her the finger. What happened next, according to witnesses, involved a grown man transforming as if possessed by a supernatural being. There were guttural sounds that came out of him or her, the witnesses couldn't tell.

Within a few minutes, the guest had luggage in tow and checked-out right away. They never heard from that guest again.


Regardless, Nicolas wanted to prove to everyone, including to himself that they have what it takes to create a culture of "We can do it". If they can serve the likes of Ms. Venera admirably and show genuine kindness at the same time, they will be well on their way.

This time they had given Ms. Venera the most secluded Deluxe room in the far end of the resort. It was usually reserved for honeymooners who didn't want any interaction with other guests. Nicolas hoped that it would be enough to keep Ms. Venera away for the 3 days she was staying.

But they need to get the check-in done first with a good first impression.

Nicolas calculated the odds. The room was actually ready, and he should be able to check-in the couple and be back within 15 minutes. He called in Benny the housekeeper to man the reception, gave him a walkie-talkie and asked him to radio the moment the van approaches the driveway.

Off he went with the Chens, efficiently but unhurriedly walking them to their room. They were an easygoing couple and settled in without any fuss.

In no time, Nicolas was walking back to the lobby just in time for Jared to pull up the main drive-way.


Jared gently stopped the van in front of the entrance. Through the windows, Nicolas saw him do a quick sign of the cross. Jared was a religious man and seemed to be thanking God that his ordeal was almost over.

Nicolas quickly walked up and opened the van door. "Welcome to the Giant Coral, Ms. Venera. We are delighted to host you".

She alighted and acknowledged Nicolas with a slight nod and a quarter smile. She wore an expensive looking white jacket over a black blouse with matching black stretch-pants. She looked classy, but not extravagant. Her slim frame of 5'10 and haughty demeanor gave her an imposing air of authority.

"Hope the ride was to your liking?", Nicolas asked.

Ms. Venera inhaled, wrinkled her nose as if sniffing something in the air, then shook her head.

"I am tired and unable to do small talk, please show me to my room now.", she replied, not unkindly.

"Right away Ma'am, please follow me." Nicolas was relieved. Less talk, less mistakes.


They arrived at the suite shortly. Per her advance instructions, the temperature had been set to 23 degrees C / 73.4 degrees F. The mini-bar had been removed, as well as all air-fresheners of whatever type.

She had wanted to remove the Television as well, but agreed to a compromise of just having a painting placed over it. "I do not feed my brain with junk", she had said previously.

Ms. Venera grimaced upon glancing at the kitsch artwork, "It will do".

Nicolas started to relax. His eyes began to wander. Then he saw something that shouldn't be there. In perfect symmetry to the queen bed's wooden headboard hung a brownish-green art piece of a giant gecko.

Only they do not have such an art piece in their inventory.

And as if on cue, the lizard nodded its head ever so slightly.

"Change of plans, I would need the boat before sunrise tomorrow for my island tour. Can you make that happen?", asked Ms. Venera.

"We will make it happen." Nicolas replied, still thinking what to do with the critter.

"Very well, read this carefully." Ms. Venera thrust a white envelope as she motioned towards the door. "I need to rest now."

Before Nicolas can say anything, he found himself in the hallway and the door shut inches from his nose. The Do Not Disturb sign already swinging by the door knob.

Nicolas stood for a few seconds thinking. Then he noticed the envelope in his hands. He read the letter.

"Somebody in the hotel wants to stop what I need to do tomorrow. Arrange for security discreetly."

Continued here.

This post is a work of fiction in which a very unique guest tests a hotel's capabilities.


Nicolas admired the poster hanging by his office wall. It read:

Wherever there is a hotel, there is an opportunity for kindness.

The original quote was attributed to Seneca. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind my alteration, as it's for a good cause obviously.", Nicolas re-assured himself.

He walked over to the main reception of the Giant Coral Resort. It was 1:00 in the afternoon, and nobody was there. The receptionist on duty had called in sick for the day, and nobody else was able, and willing, to take that shift. So as the general manager, it fell on Nicolas to handle the check-ins.

Nicolas reviewed the printed run sheet for the 4th time that morning. All seem to be in order. He double checked the property management system, in case there were any last-minute additions, or cancellations. Nope, the list remains the same.

His attention was inextricably drawn to one person on the list. She goes by the name "Ms Venera".

She had called the day before confirming her reservation. It would be the 2nd time that she would be staying. "Please make sure that the room is exactly the one in the photo this time.", she admonished the hotel. "I do not want a repeat of the last incident."

The memory caused Nicolas' heart-rate to jump. Three months ago, Ms. Venera arrived armed with a printed photo of the room she booked. Those photos were taken years ago, and though the room was very similar, the curtains were of a slightly different fabric; the chair had been replaced and there were several other small changes.

She would have none of it. So the staff spent a few hours re-creating the old photo. They came close, and Ms. Venera agreed to use the room "provisionally", and at a discount of course.

This was one of the 2 dozen paragraphs that Ms. Venera posted in her post-stay novella-of-a review. To be fair, if you carefully read that manuscript, she did mention a few good things about "the effort of a handful of staff". And for her other comments, one could argue that it can only help the hotel improve further. At least that's what Nicolas convinced himself of.

Presently, Nicolas reviewed the room and the matching photo at least thrice. "Looks even better in person, maybe I will charge her extra this time", he had joked to the exhausted housekeeper, Benny.

"We shall turn her into an avid fan." Nicolas tried to cheer his nervous teammate.


Jared had been shuttling guests from the airport to the Giant Coral Resort for over a decade. He knows the routine like the back of his small hands. He stood by the arrival area holding up a sign for Ms. Venera.

He had never been more nervous. His palms were sweating. He was sure that he was more nervous now than when his wife was delivering their first child.

He checked the time. Any minute now the guest will arrive, he will drive her to the hotel and he will have to survive the 45 minute soul-piercing interrogation along the way.

He checked the phone, no messages. When he looked up, Ms. Venera was towering over him. Jared dropped the phone in shock. He managed a whimper as the device shattered on the concrete.

Ms. Venera did not avert her gaze, nor make any sound.

Jared remembered to breathe, paused and tried to recite the line he practiced: "Hi!!.. I mean hello, Ms. Venera, it is my pleasure... I mean, it is so pleasure... to see you... to transport you... again".

Ms. Venera exhaled with displeasure and gave a curt nod and a quarter-smile.

"This way... Let me help you.. please with your luggage". Jared picked up the broken phone and deferentially made a move to take her 36" large suitcase.

For a split-second he contemplated asking for a moment to call the hotel. He was supposed to let Nicolas know that they are on their way. Well, never mind that, it's every man for himself now.


"They should be on their way by now", Nicolas muttered. "The plane arrived on time. That should help make a good first impression."

He tried calling Jared again. The subscriber cannot be reached.

Before Nicolas can start worrying, a young couple walked into the lobby. It was Mr. and Mrs. Chen from the adjacent resort who was transferring to the Giant Coral that day.

"Mr. and Mrs. Chen! How are you today?", Nicolas greeted with just a hint of unease.

"Hello Nicolas, we'd like to check-in now if it's okay.", said Mr. Chen.

Nicolas gave the briefest of pauses, there's no way that he is leaving his post when Ms. Venera might arrive any minute.

"Oh, I thought you mentioned late afternoon, so we scheduled your room for extra cleaning. Just to give that extra freshness. Would you mind coming back later?"

"Oh that's fine. We'll just hang around here, no worries." Mr. Chen replied cheerfully.

"Oh, alright. I'll call housekeeping to get your room ready as soon as possible."

Nicolas gestured cordially to the lounge overlooking the beach. He then took their luggages and deposited them at the back room of the reception. When he re-emerged, his jaw dropped in panic.

Mr. Chen was standing by the foyer entrance, chain smoking a cigarette.

Continued here.

Keep it Simpler.