It sounds like something out of an inspirational book, or an article on the power of social media, but it just happened to me in the last 24 hours…
The European Poker Tour is being held at the Prague Hilton, which is a wonderful hotel on the edge of Prague. It’s a 10-15 minute walk into the main town square (Christmas markets, huge trees, hot apple cider, etc). The Charles River runs immediately alongside the property. Inside the hotel is all modern chic, with an 8-story atrium in the middle, wonderful appointments, great rooms and comfortable beds. The tournament is literally in the basement of the hotel, and there’s good cheap sushi a 5-minute walk away. What else could you want?
Well, no smoking. You see, the Czech Republic hasn’t really caught up with the rest of the world on the smoking situation – there are no laws against indoor smoking. So this has been the last venue in the EPT where there’s smoking in the public areas of the hotel. So of course, everybody smokes, and it gets into the hallways, the rooms, your clothes, etc.
Last night, I finally got fed up and sent out this tweet:
Within a few minutes, I saw this:
And I thought “Sure – this is an auto-reply from Hilton. That’s the last I’ll hear about it.” Which it was, right up until I got back to my room after breakfast this morning. There was a note under my door “Dear Mr. Jones, please contact the duty manager at the hotel at your earliest convenience to discuss the comment you made on twitter.”
I mean, it’s kinda cool that they responded so quickly – I just wish the language they used wasn’t so “go to the principal’s office”. And it’s a little unnerving that they stalked me into their registration database, but what did I expect, right?
So this morning I go down and meet the hotel manager. He explains that they allow smoking because “Your people requested it.” “My people?!?! PokerStars!?!?!” Then I thought… well, we were here first in 2007, and I bet the guy who brokered the whole deal for us (a chain smoker) wanted to permit smoking, and they’ve just been doing it ever since – nobody bothered to say anything. Manager continues “We have events in here all the time where the organizers ask us to prohibit smoking in the public areas, so we do.” “Easy as that?” “Easy as that.”
I walked over to the PokerStars staff office and explained this to event manager extraordinaire Victoria “Tid” Sinclair. Tid put an email on the wires, and within a couple of hours had permission of the senior EPT management to take the request to the hotel management. The next time I came out of my room, I noticed something. I couldn’t smell cigarette smoke. I walked down the halls not really believing what was happening.
Got out to the atrium, and where there had been hordes of people smoking, constantly, every time I’ve been here, there were a few people milling around – the smokers were outside. Sure enough – two discreet but unmistakable “No Smoking” signs were posted in the main lobby of the atrium.
Even my colleagues who smoke say that the situation is far better and the newly pregnant receptionist at the cash games was particularly pleased. So I tweeted:
I mean, one tweet. Who knew?