Industry Update
Opinion Article25 January 2018

The House Of No VS. The House Of Yes

By Benoit Gateau-Cumin, Chief Recruiting Officer at The Boutique Search Firm

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It is January 2018 and we are working remotely for the month. Because the Wi-Fi connection at our Airbnb was not immediately ready, we decided to put the top down and head toward Diamond Head. A Leading Hotel of the World. Meeting the restaurant hostess downstairs, she immediately asks for my room number. I explain that I am not staying at the hotel but came to enjoy their outstanding buffet breakfast, a potential revenue upward of $90. It is 10.30am mid-week and the dining room was at this point deserted. As I am being seated, I ask for the Wi-Fi password for the hotel. Once again, I am asked for my room number. Once again I say I am not staying at the hotel. "I am sorry sir, access to Wi-Fi is reserved to hotel guests only. "Charge me for it, I do not mind." "No Sir, these are our rules." We head over to the Front Desk and explain our situation. Same flat "NO" and that only paying guests staying at the hotel may have access to the hotel Wi-Fi. I used to stay in that hotel: I love the location. I stopped a few years ago because of the threadbare beach towels, "no smoking" rooms reeking of smoke, and towel boys with their hands outstretched at all times. We headed to the valet to retrieve our car that was just barely taken for us moments ago.

A few days later we are at another Leading Hotel of The World, this one in the heart of Waikiki. When I call to reserve a table for lunch, as I am asked to spell my name, I am interrupted at the fifth letter and asked: "You do not mean as Mister Benoit Gateau-Cumin? I will make sure your favorite table is ready." And indeed it is. Perfect service, as usual. The beer list includes the Roman Peroni, which I order, half expecting that the demand for it is so limited, that they may not have it in stock. They do, and it comes perfectly refrigerated in a traditional Pilsner glass. I remember a very special crab sandwich, that was on the menu for over 60 years, which I do not see on the menu. I am not in the habit of ordering "off menu" but I ask our waiter if there is any possibility to get it. After warmly asking what my second choice would be, he simply says. "I will check with the chef what can be done for you." 15 minutes later, our order is delivered, including my very special crab sandwich. As I effusively thank our server, he plays it down saying the Chef asked the Sous Chef of their other restaurant to make one for me, as it is on their menu. In the meantime, just to try, we have asked the hostess what the WiFI information is. It is given instantly. When we mention that we are not staying in house, the hostess replies: "Wi-Fi here is available to everyone, not only hotel guests".

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Benoit Gateau-Cumin

Born and raised in France, Benoit managed to scoop up a French law degree prior to studying Hotel Administration at Cornell University. Upon graduation in 1975, he engaged in an eleven-year hotel management career that took him to Chicago, New York, Washington DC, San Diego, Istanbul, Jamaica and Hawaii.

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