Hotel elevator has staff and guest buttons

I snapped this photo in an elevator at the Holiday Inn Express in Mérida, Mexico. There are two sets of buttons in the elevator, one "for exclusive use of guests" and another "for exclusive use of staff." I made sure to use the staff buttons when I rode the elevator, just because some rules are meant to be broken. I also saw a staff member use the guest buttons, but I didn't snitch. Click to see the photo larger.


  1. “You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.” Pee Wee Herman.

  2. So this isn’t one of those elevators that have doors on two sides?  That’s the only reason I can why you’d have two sets of buttons.  Otherwise, WTF?

  3. Ground Floor. Staff Floors 1-7. Guest Floors 1-7?
    Staff doesn’t want to catch cooties from guests by touching the same buttons?
    Same signs on the drinking fountains? Could someone please introduce Mexico and/or Holiday Inn to the philosophies of Martin Lutero El Rey, menor?

  4. Odd that they’re the same floors.  I’ve been to a hospital that had different buttons for staff, but they were in a section of the panel you had to have a staff key to open at all.  They were because they went to floors where no one needed to wander unescorted that didn’t work there, like the laundry and dishroom, the morgue, the storage areas, etc. 

  5. The elevator does have two doors, one of which goes to staff areas. However, it’s still rather odd that the identical button panels are labeled in this way. 

  6. I’d pointedly ask why at the front desk.  And then I believe I’d take my business elsewhere.

  7. Obviously, the second set of buttons takes you up the elevator…in a parallel universe! (Thus, you didn’t notice anything different!)

  8. I think the signs are basically working the way intended.  It’s just that everyone is breaking the rules so all the staff presses the guest buttons and all the guests press the staff buttons! Reverse psychology.

  9. I love the outrage that this has caused.  “I believe I’d take my business elsewhere”  Fantastic.  Or maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for it.

    1. Or maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for it.

      Sure.  It’s not outside the realm of possibility.  It’s not an American elevator, after all, so it might be utilized as an “Express” function, as Evan Eaks outlines above.  That would be perfectly sensible in an establishment without dedicated “Service Elevators.”

      But it appears to the untrained eye that the buttons are to keep the guests from having to make contact with the buttons used by the staff, and so I’d ask the front desk why they do what they do.  They can tell me what their perfectly good reason is for it.  And if it’s to reassure a xenophobic clientele that they don’t have to share contact surfaces with the unclean slobs who change their linens and scrub their bathrooms, I don’t wanna stay there.

      Anyway, if the staff itself is worried about contracting something from the guests, nobody’s stopping them from wearing gloves.  Segregated button panels look a little too segregationy, particularly when the buttons go to the same damn floors.

  10. if i had to venture a guess, i’d say the staff buttons are “express” buttons meant to take you directly to the indicated floor without stopping to pick up passengers.  that way the guests don’t have to ride in an elevator with something like a huge bin of stinky laundry

    1. either the geust dont have to wait for staff or the other way around, i
      think evan is correct, would also explain why staff was spotted using the geust button when they did not hauling garbage.

  11. Do they have their own water fountains too? 

    “No Consuela, those buttons are for the Gringos.  Know your place.”

  12. Having taken several cruises, I’m going to go for the infection control angle. By keeping germy patrons from all over the world away from staff, they prevent staff from becoming carriers. I know on cruises, they have certain levels of infection control, if X number of guests develop gastrointestinal problems, they do extra cleaning and the staff have to avoid touching guests.

  13. You’re all assuming the 7 guest floors are the same as the 7 staff floors – maybe they’re not? Are you sure you ended up on the same floor you expected, or did it just look the same?

  14. I think the 2 sets are in order that the elevator will remain on the floor when used by a hotel staff member and return to the first floor after use by a guest.

    Having worked room service I can attest this would be a nice feature to have on an elevator. Also, having worked at a building with the most bizarrely programmed elevator, I’ve done some investigating into how elevators are programmed. Note, if you work in a building which has a funky elevator (does not return to the Ground floor, so every time you try and get a lift from the 1st floor, you must wait for the darn thing to make its return trip, drives me nuts…  ), anyway, complain to the Building Manager and he can get the good ole Otis tech out there to reprogram it.

    I also know, having lived in the U.K. that the British readers are thinking what a dumb word elevator is.

    1. I also know, having lived in the U.K. that the British readers are thinking what a dumb word elevator is.

      Whereas, in the US, a lift is something that Mickey Rooney puts in his shoe.

    2. “I also know, having lived in the U.K. that the British readers are thinking what a dumb word elevator is.”

      The gall of us, having our own words for things. Next thing you know we’ll have left the Queen’s portrait off of our coins.

  15. There is a difference between ‘de jure’ and ‘de facto’. Mexico is, at several levels, a racist country operating under a covert unspoken socio-economic apartheid, that separates ‘nice’ wealthy people from the ‘nacos’ or lower classes. You won’t necessarily see the writing on the wall, but the signs are everywhere.   

  16. I live in Mexico and can tell there’s no way to have a logic conclussion given the little information in the image (that’s the trick of the OP). Segregation in Mexico is forbidden, and I higly doubt an American franchise like Holiday Inn will risk its name and money doing something so openly stupid. So the reason to exist for this double panel MUST be a practical (or very complicated, we’re Mexicans) but legal reason.

    Now, go show your traumas elsewhere.

  17. So do the different sets of buttons have different priorities? Like, if you get on in the lobby and press guest #4 and staff #2, it goes to the 4th floor first?

    Or maybe it’s just to prevent transmission of cooties.

  18. Don’t use the “staff only” buttons. I did, and when I got off the elevator everybody had goatees!

  19. You are all spatially screwed up: Why would a lobby sign be IN the elevator? Isn’t there only ONE lobby?

    The photo is of the SIDE of the elevator, see the handrail? One set of buttons operate the back doors and the other set, the front.

    Some hotels have service hallways. One set of those buttons may operate the rear set of doors, that’s the ONLY reason why the lobby sign points to the left, and not the right.

    There’s no other explanation. You are all getting lost in the word “Exclusive”.

    1. Sounds reasonable. I’m going to guess that the staff buttons require a keycard of some kind to operate the rear doors but if the card isn’t used, the button still registers for the front doors. It also wouldn’t surprise me if it was hotel policy for staff to not use the rear buttons while guests are in the elevator to keep them from having to see service areas.

    2. However… It was pointed out that the car had 2 sets of doors, so theoretically, you’d need that to point people in the correct direction in case both sets of doors opened.

      Plus you can read “14 personas” on the right hand display thingy, which would indicated it’s inside the car.

  20. Merida has made it to boingboing!  One of my favorite cities — spent oodles of time here during the summers as a kid.  Of course, that was 25 years ago when the tallest building in the city was the cathedral.  I have no explanation for the elevator signs.  But man, I miss Merida.    Suggestion:  eat all the poc chuc and panuchos you can!!!!

  21. Much more interesting than the actual topic of this post are people’s reactions to it.  The “hm, what might the logical reason be” are *far* outweighed by speculations on the nefarious.  I guess it’s the same reason why people assume aliens instead of weather or military, or better (and more closely) that their neighbor is a jerk for playing his music too loud instead of him not realizing how far the sound carries.

    Why assume malice first?  Wouldn’t you be happier if you assume the best about people?

  22. I’m going to say that the different set of buttons create different priorities. An upward trajectory elevator will stop on floor 6 that the guest pressed before floor 4 that staff pressed. (That way guests don’t have to be delayed by staff.) If the staff member is running guests errands, like room service, hen they are to use the guest button, which would be why a staff member was seen using the guet button. 

    I worked on cruise ships, and we were instructed to only use the “crew area” elevators, and never the “passenger area” elevators, as to not slow down passengers. (Of course, we still used the passager elevators when convenient, especially since passengers didn’t know we weren’t supposed to. Which could also explain why a staff member was seen pressing the guest button.)

    Or, as someone else said, the staff buttons are express, so staff with loads of laundry or trash can get to where they are going quickly, without having guests crammed into the elevator with them. And, of course, if there is a guest with you in the elevator, you’re not supposed to use the express (and by-pass their floor) so maybe that’s why the staff member was seen pressing the guest button in the story.I don’t think it has anything to do with racism, or classism, or even germs. I don’t know what kind of people think of that first.

  23. A hospital, not a hotel.  (that would be an odd hotel,though.  Maybe the Overlook Hotel?  LOL)

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