According to J.D. Power, hotel satisfaction rates last year were at an all-time high. While you strive to leave your hotel guests satisfied, it’s inevitable that at some point, you will fail to meet a guest’s expectations. It’s important to know that a complaint won’t make or break you, but how you respond to it can.
Our eBook, The Hotelier’s Handbook to Managing Guest Expectations in the Digital Age, offers expert advice on setting and managing guest expectations. Here, we’ll look at four of the most common ways that customers voice their dissatisfaction, and how you can tackle them head-on. With any luck, you will transform someone who might not stay with you again, into an outspoken promoter of your hotel.
1. While the Customer is Still a Guest
This is the best opportunity to nip issues in the bud before it’s too late, and allows your guest to enjoy the rest of their stay.
Complaint: A guest phones the front desk, saying that he’s unhappy with his view.
Solution: If you can’t simply move the guest to another room with a more favorable view, think of offering a thoughtful gesture. Be creative, little things can go a long way! We love this example from Mike McCready, who was disappointed with the view from his Vancouver hotel room, and tweeted about it. When the hotel couldn’t relocate him, they sent some treats up to his room instead.
2. Upon Check-out
This is a bit trickier, but it would not be impossible to resolve the guest’s issue. You can still send them off thinking of your hotel in a good light.
Complaint: Upon checking out, your guest complains about weak WiFi in her room.
Solution: Thank her for bringing the matter to your attention and tell her that you’ll look into it – and then follow through! You can follow up later on with an email, updating her on the status of the investigation and thanking her again for her feedback. This is a great way to show guests you value their feedback and take it seriously.
3. You’ve Been Called Out on Social Media
Social media is an easy go-to for ranting, but it shows you care when you take time to react and respond to customer complaints directly.
Complaint: A recent guest makes a vague Twitter complaint about their stay with you.
Solution: A Tweet is only 140 characters, so there’s not often room for complaints to be very specific. In order to get into the specifics and get more information, take the conversation from a public complaint, to a private direct message. There, you can delve into their concerns in a more discrete manner. Take a queue from larger chains: @HyattConcierge and @HiltonHelp are great examples of addressing social media complaints with incredible response times.
4. Negative Feedback on a Review Site
Getting a bad review isn’t a death knell, and addressing it head-on can help you in the long run. In a PhoCusWright survey, 80% of respondents said that seeing hotel’s respond to reviews makes them feel that the hotel truly cares about its guests and their experience.
Complaint: A guest takes to a review site to complain about several issues with their stay.
Solution: Responding with ire and defensiveness won’t help—most people find aggressive responses offputting. Rather, thank the guest for the feedback, and then professionally and courteously, address their pain points. If you feel that their concerns are valid, you may even ask them to get in touch directly, to see if you can rectify the issues.
Complaints are a fact of life in the hotel industry. You aren’t going to be able or willing to solve all problems for all people…
…but they are a great opportunity for learning and for transforming a disappointed guest from an adversary to an advocate.
Want to know more about about handling guest complaints and managing expectations? Our new eBook can give you the guidance you need!
Ashley is Sojern's Marketing Manager, EMEA & APAC and works in the London office. Originally from Canada, she's been living in London for over four years, and is actively trying to fill all the pages in her passport. She has never met a cheese she didn't like.
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