What’s in a name, if there’s no shame
CHECKING into a hotel, for all its lustre and glitz, can mean an encounter fraught with anxiety. An uncertain air can tint the exchange as you provide the receptionist with your details (that’s Lowndes with a w) and they proceed to take that information (er, I don’t think I was given a reservation number, actually) and feed it into the system until a room is produced. Or not. I have worked at the front desk in a busy hotel so am convinced of the truth of the saying that there are no guarantees in life, even if you hold a reservation.
Occasionally the hotel becomes mysteriously overbooked or a reservation simply vanishes. Then it is the job of the receptionist to magically pluck a room from thin air. It’s a flip side most of us are fortunate never to have experienced.
Stories of travel tarnished after a blunder with dates or names have created a breed of presumptive travellers.
Judging by the volume in which tales infiltrate the travellers’ grapevine and social network websites, booking blunder is almost a literary genre.
What ignominy though, being informed that your booking (not to mention the room) has vanished while others are cheerily being handed the keys to the kingdom. As Jerry remarks while hiring a car in an episode of Seinfeld , and then discovering his booking is not in the system: ‘‘ Anybody can take the booking, but it’s the holding of the booking that matters most in the transaction.’’
These days I aman occasional hotel guest, and a favourite part of the checking-in routine is whether a receptionist happens to place my surname. Checking-in chit-chat is all about connecting with the guest and, on one occasion, I was asked if I was related to Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes.
I really shouldn’t have responded in the affirmative but I ameternally hopeful of encountering a racing-car enthusiast who might offer a room upgrade on the (incorrect) assumption that I’m part of Team Lowndes. So I regaled the receptionist with a tale of how Craig and I raced go-karts when we were nippers.
Oh, I’ll say anything if there is a chance of an upgrade.
‘‘ I’m a really excellent driver in my own right,’’ I fibbed, ‘‘ and used to lap him.’’
A few years back I made a reservation at the Mount restaurant that sits inside the Mt Panorama racing circuit at Bathurst. I was greeted on arrival by an enthusiastic welcoming party that was obviously expecting somebody else (namely Craig).
I have never before, with my sheer presence, induced such disappointment in a group of people as I did that evening. Despite a nice meal, I sensed that staff may have been slightly peeved not to have a signed photograph of their idol to hang on the wall by night’s end.
Not that I’ve dined out on the coat-tails of my famous namesake, but sharing a surname with somebody famous is as good as it gets for most mere mortals. We can’t all go flitting about first class with chihuahuas or book out an entire floor at the Ritz in Paris.
Which leads me to ponder whether some names are a help or hindrance. Is booking under the surname Hilton likely to get you upgraded or downgraded these days? And I wonder if hotel receptionists instinctively duck beneath the counter whenever somebody with the surname Crowe materialises?