9 Common Guest Complaints in Hotels (+Tips to Resolve Them)

9 Common Guest Complaints in Hotels (+Tips to Resolve Them)
June 18, 2021 Levi Olmstead

Hotel industry professionals know travelers book their hotel stays for a variety of reasons, but no matter their reason for travel, guests expect fantastic customer service. The truth is, no matter how impeccable your hotel’s housekeeping or how premium the room accommodations are, hotel guests are sure to have complaints.

The best way to manage these complaints is to be well-versed in the most common guest problems that come up, stick to a conflict resolution strategy, and see the issues through to their resolutions. Being ever-ready to delight and appease your guests is a surefire way to encourage repeat business, maintain your hotel’s reputation as a brand, and increase overall revenue. Conversely, bad service is bound to cause existing guests to book their future stays elsewhere.

9 Most Common Guest Complaints in Hotels

First off, it is important for hoteliers to know the most frequent guest complaints across the industry as a whole, as well as at their own hotels.

This way management can be equipped to resolve guest complaints before they arise, handle common problems as they do arise, and have the bandwidth to tackle more unique issues if necessary.

1. Dirty Rooms

A fresh, clean hotel room is one of the first indications a guest has of how enjoyable their stay at your hotel will be. Of course, housekeeping tasks can be overlooked from time to time, and even the chicest room can be seen as lacking depending on the guest. 

These issues are typically less complicated to tackle when handled with swiftness and consideration. Ensure housekeeping staff is regularly cleaning to appropriate hotel standards, and if it comes down to the wire, front-desk staff should have incoming guests wait until the room can be cleaned to perfection rather than presenting them with  an unclean room.

2. Loud Neighbors

Excess noise can be a tricky issue to handle because every party involved has paid to have an enjoyable experience in your room and with your hotel. To address this type of issue, first let the noisy neighbors know there has been a complaint. Then you can inform them of hotel policy and politely ask them to lower their volume.

3. Poor Guest Experience

Another extremely common complaint is poor guest experience. No matter their position, team members should be well trained to correct guest issues promptly, express sincere apologies, and make necessary changes to reduce the frequency of the issue.

4. Lack of Complimentary Guest Supplies

It might not seem like the most important detail, but guests expect complimentary supplies like shampoo, soaps, or coffee. These items should be abundant and match the high-quality status of everything else your hotel has to offer in order to keep your guests happy as can be.

5. Poor Food & Beverage Experience (or None at All)

Today’s guests are looking for quality in all aspects of their hotel stay, including food quality. Food-related complaints should be brought directly to the employees involved in making and delivering the meals to better ensure similar issues can be avoided in the future. This doesn’t just go for room service – breakfast served in common areas should also be high-quality, even continental breakfast.

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6. Closed Amenities

Hotel amenities need to be shut down for a number of reasons, and guests will inevitably be disappointed if a service or amenity they had hoped to utilize is closed. Hotel management should do their best to communicate the status of closed amenities to current and future guests to avoid surprises. 

If a customer does complain about a closed amenity staff should do their best to express their sincere regrets and provide the guest with any necessary context or information about the closing. If policy permits, team members can also offer upgrades or perks to make up for any disappointment.

7. Disagreement on Hotel Rules

Every so often, a guest will express discontent with hotel policy. Whether it’s about quiet hours, overnight guests, some hotel guests feel that they should be able to behave to their liking even if it goes against hotel rules. In these cases, staff can communicate politely but clearly that hotel rules are agreed to upon check-in, and that they need to be followed as written.

8. Unexpected Fees

The key word here is “unexpected.” Budget is a huge factor in most guests’ travel planning, so when they find out about additional costs after booking their trip, they’re probably not going to like it. Be upfront with your guests about costs and fees throughout the booking process, and make sure your staff can point to the notification of those costs in writing if a complaint does come up. As always, team members should be sure to practice polite and appropriate communication and apologize for any potential confusion or miscommunications.

9. Theft

Theft in any context is a serious problem and should be addressed as such. When a guest has accused a staff member of stealing their belongings, hotel management should approach the issue carefully and adhere closely to hotel policy and an established resolution strategy.

4 Benefits of Having a Guest Conflict Resolution Strategy

In addition to knowing the most common guest complaints, it is essential for hotels to establish a set guest conflict resolution strategy to ensure that complaints are addressed fairly and consistently. There are many benefits to having a guest conflict resolution strategy:

1. Avoids Negative Reviews for Your Hotel

The happier your guests, the fewer your negative reviews! Streamlining your conflict-resolution processes are a fantastic way to keep guests happy and manage your hotel’s reputation.

2. Turns Upset Guest into Loyal Guest

A fantastic resolution to an unfortunate problem can turn a guest’s entire trip around. If your conflict resolution plan is smooth enough, you should be able to turn even the most ornery of complaining guests into a loyal return traveler.

3. Allows Your Hotel to Showcase Your Guest Resolution Service

Getting your guest resolution strategy into tip-top shape is one more opportunity for your hotel business to shine and set the tone for your competitors.

4. Keeps Your Hotel Staff Prepared

Every team member should be aware of their role in your hotel business’ guest conflict resolution strategy. Their preparedness will not only be beneficial to your hotel, but to your staff members, themselves. Help them avoid uncomfortable miscommunications or missteps by thoroughly familiarizing all staff members with your hotel’s plan.

7 Tips for Successfully Resolving Your Hotel’s Guest Issues

To ensure total guest satisfaction despite inevitable guest experience issues, your staff should respond to complaints quickly, appropriately, and transparently. Here are some great tips for best practices in resolving your hotel business’ guest issues:

1. Act Quickly

When a guest comes to one of your team members with a complaint, don’t hesitate. Tap right into your guest conflict resolution strategy and involve any necessary staff members to get the ball rolling on a resolution.

2. Show Compassion to Guests

Eliminate any sense that a guest complaint is some sort of a battle between the hotel and the unhappy guest. When your hotel receives a complaint, staff should listen to the guests, be friendly, and try to understand the problem from the guest’s point of view. By avoiding taking these complaints personally and getting straight to the resolution, all parties will benefit.

3. Say “I’m Sorry”

There are few things in this world more comforting than a sincere apology. When a guest complaint arises, all team members who become involved should apologize directly to the guest in a sincere and polite manner.

4. Avoid Arguments

Again, team members should avoid taking guest complaints, or their attitudes about their issues, personally. This mindset can lead to arguments, which often lead to larger issues. When we skip straight to the resolution strategy, we avoid risking involving the hotel in any further problems.

5. Offer Room Upgrades & Free Hotel Perks

If you can’t fix your guest’s problem, the best way to comfort guests may be to offer premium perks like room upgrade or other discounts, depending on hotel policy. Staff members should convey their apologies that they’re unable to resolve the issue at the moment, but continue to show that they are invested in pleasing the guest and providing them with a positive travel experience.

6. Follow Up with Guests

When working through your hotel’s guest conflict resolution strategy, team members should make sure guests know what solution is being put in place, and kept in the loop regarding the overall resolution of the issue. Try to ensure that their feelings are heard and that their happiness as a guest is a priority for you and your team.

7. Ask Guests to Complete NPS Survey

Data is key! When guests check out, especially ones who have brought a complaint to your attention, ask them to complete a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. These surveys can allow guests to provide direct feedback while the interactions are still fresh in their minds. The results of these surveys can give your team an idea of how well they are handling guest complaints and better gauge how the guests are really feeling. Using the data from NPS surveys effectively can help your hotel grow, increase profits, and streamline operations over time.

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