TL; DR: Tip the front desk $20 (or less). Ask for free internet (or anything else). It's no skin off their back. and nobody ever tips them. Details below.
I just finished a book called Heads in Beds, by Jacob Tomsky. It's memoir about his 15 years working at the front desks of various hotels around the US.
The biggest takeaway. The front desk has all the power. Not the concierge, not the bell man.
Think about it. Who deals with your bill: front desk. Who assigns you a room or upgrades you: front desk. Who oversees all other employees: front desk (kinda - but more than you would think). Who tips the front desk: nobody.
So... last night I arrived at a hotel in SF near union square. My buddy and I are sharing a room - he had already checked in when I arrived.
"$21 bucks a night for internet? Is this 2001?" he said after trying to log on.
I told him I'd be right back.
I went down to the front desk.
I patiently waited. Smiling but not showing teeth.
"Hello, how can I help you."
"Hi. This is for you."
I slid a $20 bill across the counter. Naturally. As if I did it all the time. And, as if she did it all the time, she took it and put it in her pocket. Then looked up at me smiling.
"Thank you very much. How can I help you."
"Well, I was hoping to get internet in my room and I noticed it was $21 a night. That seems a bit steep. Especially because I'll be here all week."
She bit her lip for a moment.
"You know there is free internet in the lobby."
"Yes," I said "But I'd like internet in my room."
She picked up the phone. Spoke briefly with someone. And then turned back to me.
"We've credited your internet account with $140. That covers the week. Anything else?"
$140 bucks worth of internet. For only $20. And now I have a best friend at the front desk. And I'll be here all week.
discuss on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7834426