How do you deal with nightmare hotel guests?
Hotels represent communal living at its finest or its worst, depending on the guests staying within them. When Expedia conducted its most recent survey of hotel etiquette to determine which guest behaviors other patrons found the most aggravating, inattentive parents, hallway hellraisers, in-room revelers, complainers and bickerers topped the list. But it’s rarely just a situation of guests disturbing other guests. Whether you’re employed at the front desk, in housekeeping, as a concierge, maintenance professional or even a room service food runner, you’ve likely encountered your share of similar annoyances. Which are the worst, and what can you do to cope? We scoured message boards and online resources for the best ways to keep your cool and deal with the most nightmarish of situations.
Guests Who Flash
It’s after midnight and the guest in room 312 just ordered a late-night snack from the kitchen. You run up the plate, knocking quietly on the door. When he (or she) swings it open, you choke back a gasp as your eyes fall on body parts you expected to be covered. While this might be accidental (it’s not always easy to tie a one-size-fits-all robe securely in a hurry, after all), it could also be intentional. So, what do you do?
According to one political blogger at Mother Jones, these situations happen far more often than you might think. He suggests reporting the guest to management immediately so they can be given a warning, with multiple offences quickly leading to blacklisting. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to determine your course of action. If the guest seems embarrassed and your gut says “accidental,” keep a blank face and move on.
Guests Who Are Mentally Ill
Let us preface this by stating that mental illness is a serious issue and those who suffer from it in any variety should be treated with understanding and compassion. That said, guests who fly into unprovoked rages, accuse hotel staff of spying or stealing, or behave in ways that make other guests uncomfortable can cause major disruptions that must be dealt with. There’s an apt description of one hotel employee’s experience with such a guest on Reddit. So, what do you do if you encounter a similar situation?
Start by being calm, courteous, and addressing any legitimate complaints you can. You should also inform your manager so that he or she can determine next steps. If a guest becomes violent, you’ll probably need to call in your security team and local law enforcement. And if the behaviors are too disruptive to other guests, staff and business in general, you may need to put the guest on the blacklist.
Guests Who Are Drunk
It’s a Saturday night in June and your hotel has 30 rooms booked by guests of the gigantic wedding reception that’s taking place in the ballroom. There’s an open bar, and you’re pretty sure things are going to get messy later on. You aren’t wrong; by 11 o’clock, you’ve had reports of a guest vomiting in the elevator, another one asleep in the hallway, and even more who have lost their room keys or forgotten how to even find the room that they’ve reserved. What do you do?
The answer is simple: whatever you can to get those problem guests into their rooms as quickly as possible. If you’re the only one manning the front desk, you may need to call in reinforcements from other departments. However, provided no one becomes belligerent or succumbs to alcohol poisoning, a little cheerful, good-natured encouragement will probably be enough to get them where you want them to go. In the case of angry drunks, you may need to call on security. And if you find a guest who cannot be awakened or is suffering from seizures, irregular breathing or confusion, be prepared to call 911.
Guests with Relationship Issues
Vacations, though meant to be relaxing, can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Every day, hotel employees are likely to observe bickering and arguments between customers and friends. But what do you do when those disagreements become loud and disturb other guests? Or, even worse, threaten to descend into physical violence?
Calling in your security team is probably the best course of action. They have more training in defusing such situations than you’ll typically receive as a front desk, housekeeping or other hotel professional. If your hotel doesn’t have a security staff, alert your manager or, in the case of actual physical violence, notify law enforcement and wait for their arrival.