I just got a gig doing an online guide to Madrid. It's short, less than 10,000 words, so it's a quick and easy writing job for a resident to do. The only real challenge are the hotel listings. Having an apartment, I've never needed to stay in a hotel! Plus the few times that friends have come through and not crashed at my place, the hotels they stayed at were decent but unremarkable. My readers need something special.
So yesterday I wandered around Sol, a historic downtown area popular with tourists and teeming with hotels. I had a list of ones I'd heard were good and planned to see. The first on my list was Petit Palace Arenal on Calle Arenal 16. I went to the front desk, introduced myself as a guidebook writer, and asked for some information.
The woman I spoke to gave me a surly look and said, "We're really busy. We don't have time." Then she turned her back on me. Considering that when I came in, she and her friend were busily engaged in just standing there staring into space, I had a hard time believing that. I shrugged, told her there were plenty of other hotels, and walked out.
Needless to say they aren't going in the guidebook. If a receptionist is "too busy" to help or even be polite to someone offering them free advertising, how well do they treat their guests? I've had this happen a few times when writing my Phoenix guidebook and London guidebook and it's always mystified me. The staff at the next two hotels I visited were very helpful, showed me around, and answered all my questions. Proper hospitality. One would think this would be a no-brainer!
If you're interested in getting into the crazy world of guidebook writing, check out my article on Breaking into the Guidebook Market.