Some Common Complaints in Hotels and How to Resolve Them ?
You cannot avoid guests screaming at you about unclean rooms or no hot water if you are a hotelier. No matter how clean your hotel is or how much you spend on heating water, you are going to get complaints. But having a jaded attitude towards common guest complaints can be disastrous when it comes to retaining customers. Yes, the complaints might be repetitive. But you still need to solve them each time you encounter them with the same level of enthusiasm.
Also, predictably common complaints in hotels are way better than the unforeseen ones. You can at least have a pre-formed response to common complaints. But knowing how to resolve them can help you with unforeseen problems as well. If you are well-versed with customer behavior and complaint resolution, it’s going to help you in the long run.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the most common complaints that hoteliers get:
Common Complaints in Hotels and How to Resolve Them
1. Unclean Rooms
When you receive this complaint, don’t immediately get defensive. Telling the guest that the room cannot possibly be unclean doesn’t help. Of course, the guest must have found something dissatisfactory about the room to have lodged that complaint.
The first step is to promptly acknowledge the complaint and apologize. This is a key facet of complaint resolution in customer service. Don’t hesitate to respond or your guest will think that you are not paying due attention to their plight. And do apologize even when you don’t need to. If you have been in customer service long enough, you will know this tactic. You have to start with “I’m sorry” even if you plan to disagree with your customer later. It simply reassures the customer that they are being heard. But how to really solve this problem?
How to Resolve This Issue?
The hygiene expectations you have from your hotel might be really high. But ultimately, you are functioning through a human housekeeping force. And these workers might make mistakes or be neglectful just like all humans do. This is why you cannot automatically assume that the guest’s complaint is unjustified.
Now you have to locate the reason for which the room has been left unclean. The most common reason is that the housekeeping staff have to undertake a heavy load of work just after check-out. They have, at the very most, two hours to clean the room before the next check-in happens. And all the work gets concentrated in this two-hour timespan when your hotel has fixed check-in and check-out timings.
The first way you can solve this is by having flexible check-in and check-out timings. Wondering how you will manage your inventory? Don’t worry. Just opt for a Property Management System like StayFlexi. StayFlexi ensures that the entire process of check-in and check-out is automated. Plus, it also manages your inventory for you through its automation. No human involvement is required at all.
Not just that. StayFlexi can help you out with your housekeeping problems in two other ways.
- You can make automated chart rosters every week with its Smart Housekeeping feature. These staff rosters are evenly balanced so that no one person has to bear a huge workload. The work is also evenly distributed throughout the day and across the week. Also, it allows your guests to lodge their complaints directly into the mobile app/website of your hotel. The moment the complaint is lodged, the housekeeping staff responsible for that particular room is notified. After the complaint is resolved, they can update the task status on the app/website. This way you can always know who is to be held accountable if something goes wrong.
- The Self-Check-In feature of StayFlexi allows guests to check-in hours before they actually step into the hotel. This provides the staff with extra time to prepare their rooms according to their specifications and preferences.
2. Rude Staff
As I have mentioned just now, you cannot rule out human error. Similarly, you cannot rule out human unpredictability either. No matter how much you train your staff, you cannot always predict everything about their behavior. You also cannot keep firing staff members because there is an acute labor shortage in this COVID-19 era. Plus, there might be times when it’s the guest who is to blame.
How to Resolve This?
The best way to resolve this is to reduce guest-staff interactions as much as possible. You might feel like this is a compromise on the hospitality standards. But guest behavior and expectations have drastically changed in recent years. And the COVID-19 pandemic has consolidated this change: Guests want reduced interaction with staff.
This is why most of the hotel processes started becoming automated in the first place. If you opt for StayFlexi’s Self-Check-In feature, your guest need not interact with the receptionist at all. The guests also don’t need to search for a staff member to lodge their complaints. They can directly do so on the app/website.
This, of course, has an added benefit for you. There is no reason to hire a 24×7 front desk receptionist at all. Neither do you have to hire a ton of people who are great at customer service. StayFlexi helps you cut down on labor costs by a lot.
3. Food Options Unavailable
A lot of people have specialized diets now. So, you have to make provisions for guests if they are vegans or are on a paleo or keto diet. One of the easiest ways to earn a guest’s hatred is to not have anything they can eat on the menu.
How to Resolve This?
Know your guests’ requirements before they arrive at the hotel. Ask them specific questions about their diet. One of the biggest perks of having StayFlexi is that it allows you to personalize your guests’ experience. Personalization is the key to a good hotel experience. The guest should not be greeted as one of the thousands who stop by your hotel. But rather as an individual with their own specific taste.
Right when the guest books a room, send a questionnaire with the confirmation mail. Allow them to specify their dietary requirements beforehand so that you can be prepared. Even if your hotel does not provide those options usually, being flexible for a guest doesn’t hurt. You are guaranteed to get loyal customers out of this if you do it right.
4. Unexpected Charges
Don’t hide your prices. This is one of the most common mistakes that hotels make. To make their rooms seem affordable, they hide a lot of associated costs. This is guaranteed to turn guests away once the unexpected charges start piling up. The worst part is that they don’t realize that these costs are being added till the check-out process. This is when they are provided a bill that is bound to shock them.
How to Resolve This?
Make your charges crystal clear even before the booking happens. Do the guests need to pay extra for sightseeing? Do they need to pay for the food? An easy way to do this is by explicitly stating which facilities are complimentary. Then you can simply add that anything that is not on this list is chargeable. You should also be open to answering questions from your guests before they book the room. Your customer service shouldn’t start when the booking occurs and end when the guest leaves the hotel premises.
5. Noise Complaints
This one is a bit tricky to handle. This is because the noisy neighbors and the people who are lodging the complaint are both guests. They have paid an equal amount to enjoy their stay. And ‘enjoyment’ is subjective. So, it might mean chattering into the night for some and silent stargazing for the others. You cannot afford to offend either party.
How to Resolve this?
Try offering different solutions to both parties. You can offer the noisy party an option to enjoy the open air of the garden. (The garden area being sufficiently far removed from the rooms.) Of course, this must be done with great tact. Or, you can offer the complainants some complementary services or a bottle of wine as compensation.
The above solution is only valid if your hotel does not have any pre-decided Quiet Hour policies. If it does, then highlight it even before the booking is made. If the guests know about this clause and still continue causing a ruckus, you can change tactics. If this is the case, then you can inform them of your hotel’s policies, politely but firmly.
6. Lack of Hot Water
If your hotel is situated in a colder environment, your utility bill must be sky-high. Still, it’s inevitable that at certain points in time you will run out of hot water. And for a guest who has driven miles to reach here, this is a very justified reason for annoyance.
How to Resolve This?
Having a Smart Shower system really helps. Some people have a tendency to have overly long showers. Of course, doing so will not just deplete water but also prevent the other guests from getting hot water. Smart Showers run for a set frame of time. It gives the guests a gentle reminder before the hot water is automatically turned off.
You might think that guests will be annoyed with this, but they aren’t. It saves them the effort to get the water temperature absolutely right as well. Smart showers don’t just save water, it reduces your utility bill to a large extent. Plus, you can also opt for the sustainable, eco-friendly hotel tag if you have smart lighting and smart showers.
7. Lack of Entertainment Options
A lot of entertainment options like the gym or the swimming pool are closed with COVID-19 restrictions in mind. And a lot of guests might complain about this once they turn up at your hotel. Not just this. They might be disappointed that you don’t have the facility that they expected you to have.
How to Resolve This?
If any of your entertainment facilities are closed, make sure that your hotel website and all the OTAs have this information. The guest must be informed of this before they make a booking. Also, inform the guests about this in your confirmation email. Never try to hide facts to lure guests in. Complains are bound to start pouring in later.
Second, know what your guests are expecting. I know this sounds impractical but it’s nothing that a good questionnaire cannot solve. In the interim period between booking and check-in, you have to stay in touch with your guests. This ensures that the guests won’t forget about your hotel and cancel. Utilize this period to ask them questions regarding what entertainment options they are expecting. If you don’t have these options, inform them immediately. If they cancel early, there is no harm done. You can get another booking. Hoodwinking a guest into thinking that your hotel suits their needs when it doesn’t, never pays in the long run.
8. Complimentary Guest Supplies Missing
Every guest expects miniature bottles of shampoos, body washes, etc. Now, where this list of complimentary items stops is unclear. Do you also provide bathrobes, slippers, a complimentary bottle of wine? The moment something on this neverending list is missing, you get a complaint.
How to Resolve This?
Just like I mentioned in the last point, know from beforehand where your guests’ expectations lie. Ask them specifically before their arrival what they are expecting. This does not mean that you have to offer them everything they are asking for, for free. You just have to know their list of expectations to inform them what is chargeable and what isn’t. If it’s something inexpensive, add it to the complimentary list of items. It’s bound to please your guests. If it is something expensive, inform the guest that this can be arranged for, but that it is chargeable.
9. Didn’t Live Up to the Expectations
I’ll share a personal anecdote about this. I once witnessed a fellow guest lodging this complaint to the hotel manager:
“The hotel website promised a beautiful view of the sunrise. It’s all rainy and cloudy.”
You can be tempted to laugh at this. Or just say, “I can’t control the weather.” But do suppress these urges.
You will get a plethora of non-sensible complaints if you spend enough time as a hotelier. Even in this situation, the best course of action is to start with “I’m sorry.”
Unfortunately, there is no set way to resolve this. Your hotel will always disappoint some people in some unexpected and uncontrollable ways. In such situations, all you can do is polish up on your best customer service practices. The key to conflict resolution is to not lose your cool and not to take the guest’s complaint personally.
There are many problems on this list that a PMS like StayFlexi can easily solve. But there are some, like the last one, that has no sensible solution. But, in most situations, the problem can be dealt with by having a deep understanding of individual preferences. Every guest is looking for a personalized hotel experience. And StayFlexi allows you to offer exactly that. After all, you cannot disappoint guests when you know exactly what they want.
The Smart Housekeeping feature, along with the Self-Check-In and Check-Out feature, is also a great perk. Do you wish to know more about StayFlexi’s features? Leave a comment below!