It’s been a hellish few months at work. Every now and then, jobs there get switched around, and my job is no exception.
For the last few months, I’ve been getting away from work – in the sense of escaping – at least an hour after “quitting time.” Most nights, it’s been even later. Part of the problem was starting out the day “in the hole,’ spending at least an hour going through the overnight queues, fixing records that the “emergency travel services” agents had worked during the off hours. Mondays, there were sometimes 20 or 30 records to go through -most of which required no action, some of which required a few minutes’ worth of documenting and fixing up to be auto-invoiced, and a few of which totally stalled me out because they required a good 15 or 30 minutes of fixing, calling, and documenting using this really pokey web-based “customer service” tool that is extremely tedious to use, since all the data from each record has to be entered into it by clicking little radio buttons and drop-down menus and popping back and forth copying and pasting bits of info. And for multiple records with the same problem, your only friend is copy and paste the text you put in the “request action” box. Everything else has to be repeated manually.
Meanwhile, I’ve gotten totally bogged down with the hotel groups thing – now there’s this entire division of one of our main client’s that’s conducting regional meetings all over the country for the next year, and this division has no friggin idea how to delegate this task so that the “organizers” actually are organized enough to give me the information, and to stay on top of changes. And the travelers… they’re like a herd of cats, because most all of them are either new hires, or raw recruits, and they have no idea how to behave, apparently, on a business trip.
Example: one particularly disorganized organizer had no idea that she was supposed to make sure that lists of names that she sent to me were:
- Accurate as to spelling
- Contained the arrival dates of each person at the hotel, and the dates each person would physically leave
- Purged of the names of attendees who did not RSVP to the invites, or of the names of guys who up and quit
- Actually had the real number of attendees, as oppposed to a wild-ass guess that was wildly underestimated
Yeah, this one group is really getting on my last nerve, because it was one that started out with problems and it’s been one problem, change, or complete rebook after another. Plus it’s confirmed at two different hotels, because the disoroganizer did not contact me far enough in advance to secure her space. And the first section, which was at a second-choice hotel, wanted to stay there the whole 5 weeks, while they’re supposed to move to the primary property on Sunday for the next 2-week sections of their training (they get weekend breaks every 2nd week).
At approximately 4pm today, a Friday, the sales rep at the secondary hotel, who’s been rather annoying about wanting to get the entire 5 week stay instead of the 1-week stopgap I booked with her, sends me this email that says in part “The guys are in mutiny, they want to stay here the whole time and I’ll offer a great rate” which is still not as good as the rate the company gets with the primary property, and there are signed booking agreements in place. My reply to her was “Do not extend their stays, do not let them cancel their upcoming reservations at the other hotel, there are booking agreements and direct billings in place, PLEASE do not meddle.” It’s been a nightmare – I’ve never, ever had a group give me this much trouble with changes. It’s like being nibbled to death by ducks, while trying to herd cats.
I’m not even going into how I had to change the block dates all around because the travelers all got sent a calendar with the wrong travel dates marked, and they booked their air for those wrong dates, and it was “easier” for all concerned if I changed the blocks and… oh look, I just did. Yeah, so I had to completely revamp dozens and dozens of name records to show the new hotel dates and email the itineraries, and put them into the air reservations that they booked all wrong. All because some idiot secretary forgot to CC: someone in on the “final” copy of the booking calendar (which didn’t show the actual arrival and departure dates, just the days the meeting took place on – causing no end of merry hell in the beginning, too).
And oh goody, I’ve got another 5-week for the same city, same primary hotel, different disorganizer. Things are going to be different this time, bucko. But dammit, this one only gave me 3 weeks’ notice, too. They have no frickin’ idea that the need to block the space a few months in advance and THEN let me have the namelists 3 weeks prior. Idiots. I’ll have to add that comment to the “groups checklist” that I send out, because half the battle is educating the organizers the first time through.
But aside from those frustrations, today was a happy day, because I discovered a new city code that is entirely unsafe for work, and it becomes more and more obscene when combined with other naughty city codes. It caused me endless mirth today, especially when I had to call someone at another company to discuss a rental car at this location, and I know she’s a rather straight-laced person. She giggled, but would not even spell the code out. It made for an interesting time working out the niceties of booking a rental car to be delivered to a flightline at the little GA airport with the naughty, naughty code.
Did you know the airline pseudo city code for Westhampton Beach, NY is
? I did not know that either.
Would you like me to book you a hotel in FOK? I would be happy to do that, sir or madam, the entry I will make in SABRE will begin HOTFOK. Smoking or nonsmoking? Would you like a king size bed with a Jacuzzi bath and fireplace?
How about a rental car? Let me look up the car vendor for FOK. Why, it is Enterprise, which reminds me of the world’s oldest profession when I look up their location record in SABRE, which for some reason repeats that jolly pseudo-city code so that the address portion actually begins:
FOKFOK WESTHAMPTON BEACH
and reminds me inexplicably of a cocktail I once had called “Sex on the Beach.” I’d heard the Hamptons can be a bit racy this time of year, but my word.
Where are you flying from, sir or madam? Sioux City? I will be checking availability on the 10th of August:
I am sure you will enjoy your return flight, let me check the schedule on August 22nd for you:
Mmm, that is nice, turnabout is fair play.
There are many more enjoyable examples – Fresno is lovely this time of year, if you like things a bit hot and heavy:
This may make you feel a little ill, so you probably won’t want to continue on to Spokane:
121AUGFATGEG if you have a week stomach.
It’s a good thing there’s no such thing as a direct flight from Westhampton Beach, NY to Fukuoka, Japan, though. There are limits to the amount of travel porn I’ll blog about.
[tags]FOK, DO NOT WANT, overtime[/tags]