Oklahoma hotels reveal process for lost-and-found items
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — At the Holiday Inn Express in Bricktown, staff members are used to seeing a lost jacket or two hanging in guest room closets, but two large vehicle tires with blinged-out rims is not something General Manager Christopher Welch ever expected to find.
“Yeah, two tires were left behind in a room and were never claimed,” he said to The Journal Record . “They had really nice rims, too. Right now, they are sitting in a storage room, but they were left behind by a guest.”
What do phone chargers, Rolex watches, entire suitcases of clothes and handguns all have in common? They are among the items left behind in guest rooms at Oklahoma hotels.
And while some items are claimed by forgetful guests, other items are never retrieved at all. Clothing, jewelry, electronics and more are sent to do time in hotel lost-and-found departments, but if no one ever claims those items, they go on to live second lives.
Guests in Oklahoma aren’t alone in leaving items behind in hotel rooms.
According to a 2016 “Motel 6 Left Behind Survey” conducted by Kelton Global, more than 54 percent of travelers admitted that they have left something behind in a hotel room. The study also found that Americans are willing to spend nearly $100 to have important items like passports or jewelry returned to them.
Of the American travelers surveyed, 3 percent have left behind false teeth or hearing aids, but other items range from cherished childhood keepsakes to a pair of underwear. Clothing and toiletries were the most common items at 42 percent, followed closely by electronic devices and chargers at 40 percent. Jewelry, underwear and hairstyling tools rounded up the top six articles commonly forgotten.
Although it’s been said that what’s lost can never be found, more than one-third of Americans have returned to a hotel to retrieve what they forgot, the survey showed. In fact, on average, respondents would travel more than 110 miles to reclaim their money or wallet, over 95 miles to recover their electronic device and more than 30 miles to pick up a forgotten device charger.
Who leaves items behind is also telling. Millennials, for instance, are less likely to double-check a room before checking out and admit to losing four items on average in hotel rooms. Of those surveyed, 38 percent of millennials have turned around to retrieve their items, compared to fewer (33 percent) non-millennials.
At the Holiday Inn Express in Bricktown, phone and laptop chargers top the list of items housekeeping finds when cleaning rooms, followed by items of clothing left in closets or shoes accidentally slipped under the bed.
“I’d say about 15 percent of the people who leave phone chargers call us and want those items back,” said Welch. “If people don’t immediately call or we cannot reach them, the items are kept for 90 days. After that, we typically donate whatever we can to the local Goodwill or similar nonprofits, especially items like clothing, pillows and other usable things.”
The Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City also has its process for lost items.
“Anything left in any of the guest rooms is turned into our Loss Prevention Department,” said Val Alla, marketing coordinator. “Then it is given a number, logged in the computer and filed away in the lost-and-found cabinets into the ‘generic section’ or the ‘electronics/cash/jewelry section.’”
Each week, the Skirvin Hilton staff rotates items into the next week’s cabinet until an item finally hits the 90-day cabinet.
“At that point, if it is generic, it is donated to Goodwill. If it is electronics, cash or jewelry, it is sent to an accounting safe and held for an additional 90 days. Then it becomes the property of the hotel,” Alla said.
According to Delani Marchigiani, public relations spokesperson for the DoubleTree Hilton in downtown Tulsa, laptop cords and phone chargers also top the list of the most common items guests leave in that hotel.
“If after our housekeeping director and front-office manager give the guest a call regarding the item and 30 days pass by with no response, the housekeeper who turned the item in is able to claim the item,” she said.
A pair of blinged-out tires may be surprising to find in a hotel room, but Oklahoma hoteliers have a list of odd articles they’ve discovered. At the DoubleTree Hilton Downtown Tulsa, staff members have found entire suitcases that were never claimed, handguns in safes and nightstands, and major amounts of cash and jewelry.
“We found $1,800 in cash once that the owner flew back to get,” said Marchigiani.
When he worked at extended-stay hotels, Welch said items like mixers, fishing poles or blenders were left behind as well.
“When you have an extended stay, people will buy stuff for the room and just leave those behind,” he said. “But we’ve found some really interesting items too, like packets of nude photos, personal devices, guns and things like that. With the handguns, we usually turn those over to the police if no one claims them. But most of the time, if people leave behind valuable items like iPads or computers or guns, they contact us pretty quick.”
Most hotel managers said the best way to retrieve a lost item is to call the hotel as soon as possible.
“The sooner, the better,” said Welch. “If you have specific information like the room number and the description of the item, that’s even better. We also ask people to double-check their luggage. I’d say 70 percent of the time when people think they have left something in a room, they actually have it hidden in their luggage. People get really angry and blame housekeeping for stealing only to call a week later to apologize when they found it.”
The Skirvin Hilton often mails items to guests when contacted. Guns, however, are given to the police, and the police return them to those people with proper identification and background checks, said Alla.
“Call immediately. Make sure you speak with a manager, preferably the highest-ranking one you can get ahold of. Be hopeful that a staff member found the misplaced item,” she said.
Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com