Perceiving complaints as constructive criticism

hospitality consultant

Dealing with guest conflict is one the hardest things employees face in the service industry. If poorly managed, an on-property complaint can escalate to a bad online review and negative reviews can frighten prospective guests away and put a permanent scar on the reputation and revenue of the hotel property.

The front desk is truly the heartbeat of any hotel and the face of the hotel management, as it serves as the main go-to point for every single issue whether good or bad. So when things don’t go the way they should hotel staff need to know how to effectively solve the problem to get the best results.

When guests take the time to bring an issue to the attention of the front desk, consider it a gift and the opportunity to make things right. The way staff responds to managing guest conflict to prevent negative reviews and leave guests feeling positive will have a decisive impact on the hotel.

So if you have an issue, here are some ways for hotel staff to effectively solve the problem and make the guest’s stay as pleasant as possible:

A culture of “yes”

Hotel management try their best to make certain that the message of always try to find a way to say ‘yes’ to a guest through to their frontline employees. It’s the only way that employees will be able to give their very best to their guests and it can make all the difference in the world.

Empower employees

Empower employees to make effective decisions_LVO_Associates

In order for employees to make effective decisions clearly defined service standards are vital to ensure that every customer leaves satisfied. In most hotels, the front desk staff is given a considerable amount of responsibility to not only address guest concerns or requests, but also to provide immediate restitution for any guest problems that arise.

Manage expectations

Guests arrive at your door with expectations of the quality, value and service your hotel will provide. If expectations are not met, conflict can result. Preventing conflict starts with setting realistic expectations of the experience you provide. Ensure that descriptions, imagery and other information on your website, promotional materials are an accurate reflection of your hotel. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver; that is when you truly reap the benefits.

Fulfill customer expectations

Guests are looking for a memorable experience and energetic service, where it matters the most. It is becoming ever more popular for guests to leave a review of their experience on a number of feedback sites, whether their experience was a good or bad one. The hotel management needs to be mindful of this as bad feedback can be extremely damaging.

Be aware of triggers

Complaints that persist are often less about the problem than about how staff handled the problem when it was brought to their attention. Triggers are things an employee does or says that make a guest angry. The more emotional a guest becomes, the harder it will be to reason with him.

Positive attitude

The hotel management must be aware that staff has triggers too. If a guest says something offensive or untrue, they may become annoyed & less willing to help. Work hard to control these triggers. Staff need to remember their job is to please customers and most of the time that means setting aside their own feelings.

What guests want

Most people are reasonable. They don’t expect perfection, and they understand that mistakes can happen. Guests’ needs are simple, traveling can be tiring and stressful, and hotels can be intimidating and confusing so they need an empathetic ear. Put guests at ease by reassuring them that you understand and are here to help. Introduce yourself and use their name to establish a rapport. Don’t deprive them of their need to vent. Give them your full attention, listen carefully and ask questions to clarify the situation.

Apology or quick solution

A sincere apology is sometimes enough to appease an upset guest. People want acknowledgement when they feel they’ve been wronged. It may not be your fault, but that shouldn’t stop you from regretting that they’re upset and wanting to rectify the situation. Smiles are free of charge, and it is very hard for a guest to remain or get angry at a smiling staff; kindness goes a long way here! The longer it takes to fix the problem, the more upset the guest is likely to become, so a quick solution is required. If guests are bounced around and made to repeat their story, it will increase their feelings of frustration. Don’t assume they’re looking for compensation, suggest a few options and work with the guest to find a mutually satisfactory solution.


Tell the guest how and when you will follow-up. Be sure not to make promises you can’t keep. Record details in the guest’s profile, inform colleagues of the situation, and take the necessary steps to ensure the problem won’t recur. A follow-up call from the hotel management or a note and amenity to the guest’s room will reinforce your care and concern; the cost of the amenity is negligible compared to the damage that can be caused by an unhappy guest.

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