The guest isn’t always right: How to keep your cool when dealing with a difficult hotel guest
Providing superior customer service is the key to any hotel’s success. In most parts of the world, travelers have numerous lodging options from which to choose. Many base their decisions on past experiences of their own and others. A hotel with a reputation for creating happy guests will almost always get more business than those with a history of disgruntled visitors, regardless of price.
While it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually encounter a difficult guest who is unreasonably upset over circumstances beyond your control, you don’t have to lower yourself to his or her emotional level. With a little practice, you’ll find it easy to keep your cool when dealing with these less-than-pleasant patrons.
You can start by remaining calm and confident. Nervousness will only escalate the situation, as will a raised voice, irritated tone or attempt at interruption. Refuse to take the complaint personally and instead focus on navigating your way to a successful solution. It may be helpful to remember LAST, or listen, apologize, solve and thank.
It’s important that you allow the guest to articulate his or her complaint. Then verify the issue by calmly and politely restating what you’ve heard. Once you’re clear on the perceived problem at hand, offer an apology. Even in a situation in which you (or the hotel) have done nothing wrong, you can still be sincere in your regret for not meeting the guest’s expectations—as unreasonable as they may be.
Now it’s time to solve the issue. Begin by asking the guest, “What can I do to resolve this for you?” This question will let you know what they are expecting. If the answer is something unreasonable or impossible, avoid saying “no” and instead offer an alternative. When you have an agreement to your solution, thank the guest for calling your attention to the issue.
Give the guest an estimate of the time it will take you to resolve the problem. In some situations, you may be able to do so immediately. If you don’t have the authority to implement the agreed upon solution, get in touch with the person who does as quickly as possible. If a solution is going to take longer than you expected, let the guest know.
Always follow up before the guest checks out of the hotel. This will allow you to ascertain whether he/she is happy with the resolution and can help build guest loyalty, increasing repeat business. If the guest ends up submitting a negative review of your hotel online, take the time to address it with a comment. You can offer another apology as well as outline the steps taken to resolve the situation. This will go a long way towards showing other potential customers that you were dealing with a difficult guest and did everything within reason to satisfy them.