Thursday, March 19, 2015

How To Get Problems With Your Hotel Resolved Satisfactorily

I have checked into my favorite hotel in Galveston, Texas, The Hotel Galvez,  and began unpacking  when I noticed that the bottle of Champagne and fruit tray I had asked for was not already in the room. I pick up the room phone and call the front desk to report the oversight and maybe complain a little.

What I say and how I say it when I make that call is going to determine to a large degree the level of satisfaction I am going  to receive. Being a person who spent more time in hotels and resorts than most I have learned a few things about expressing complaints, needs and requests to the people working to make my stay wonderful . . .  from the service staff to the front desk.

I believe when you have a problem with your room, your amenities, or some other part of the hotel or resort how you call it to the attention of the Front Desk or Customer Service personnel makes all the difference in the world the kind of result you will get. I can almost guarantee your chances of a satisfactory resolution if you follow a few simple rules.

Keep in mind that the front desk and concierge office are the heartbeat of every hotel and resort. The front desk and concierge office are the main go-to points for virtually every single issue, good or bad, for all hotels. The front desk constitutes the face of the property and they are responsible to see that everything gets done expeditiously. Simply put they are the focal point that management expects to see that no matter what problem arises, the guest’s issue will be sorted out to the satisfaction of the guest.

So if you have a complaint here are some do's and don'ts that get the front desk agent on your side?

First of all do not act as though you are the most important guest on the property. Almost every hotel reservation system brings up a computer screen when you check in that flags for the person handling your check-in your status with the hotel's loyalty program, your preferences and the level of care that you expect as a result of being a loyal guest.  They know if you stay in their properties frequently or stayed once before five years ago.

I remember checking in to the Venetian Hotel in  Las Vegas and the guy checking in next  to me was asked if he would be using the credit card he made the reservation with or another card. He said he'd be using another card. With that he slapped his American Express Black Card on the counter said, "I'll bet you've never seen one of these!"  I wanted to say, "No, he's probably not seen over a dozen or more today"

You don't need to try and establish your importance to the hotel or resort. They already know whether you're a regular or not because the screen they are looking at is screaming your loyalty club status, your preferences in room and amenities, etc. Whether or not you have an American Express Black card or not is irrelevant. As a guest in their hotel you’re important to the hotel. He is already on your side so don't throw your weight around . . . it will not buy you any advantage.

Never talk down to these people. You need to remember that they are probably the best trained, most knowledgeable and capable of seeing to it that you have a great stay in their property and that any problems are solved quickly, efficiently and to your satisfaction.

When you do have a complaint try to be specific when you convey your needs to the Front Desk. For example, if you don't have enough pillows make sure when you call the front desk you say something like, "There are four pillows in our room and we really need two more." If it is a maintenance issue like a leaky faucet say something like, "We really like our room but for one thing . . . the faucet in the bathroom is leaking water on the counter . . . I wonder if we could get if fixed or get another room?"  The point is be specific, courteous and state what you'd like done about the problem.

I recommend noting people's names starting with the doorman, any security personnel, desk employees, housekeeping person who does your room etc. Greet them by their names when you see them around the property.  This will go a long way when you have a special request that is perhaps beyond your stated amenities.  For instance, if you asked the person cleaning your room to leave extra soap in your room you will be better served if it is not there if you call the front desk or speak to them on your way out giving them an update about saying something like, "I mentioned that we needed extra soap to Judy who cleans our room but it still is not there yet."  I promise it will expedite a solution. Then On your way out of the hotel, stop by the front desk and give them an update. This also helps the agents remember you even more.

We always learn the names of the people who are taking care of our needs at the hotel/resort and express gratitude for services rendered or just greet them by name during the day.

By all means give the people at the front desk an opportunity to solve your issue. Never  ask immediately for the manager. The people at the front desk often have a lot of latitude when it comes to meeting the clients needs. For example in many of the more upscale properties if your room is not ready when on time or there is some problem in the room the front desk personnel can add an amenity of gift that is not included in what you purchased.

We live in an international world so do not complain about or make fun of the staff’s lack of proficiency in English. Remember, it may be you who is speaking the foreign language. I promise you that the Front desk agents are doing their dead level best to communicate as effectively as they can. Rolling your eyes or mocking them will not help. Believe me, they will understand that non-verbal communication and it will not help your cause. It is unnecessary, insulting and downright disrespectful. Be patient and show respect.

When you have a complaint don’t ask for unreasonable compensation I have a friend who has a house full of trinkets that he looks at as trophies because he caused such a ruckus over some small thing that the hotel gave him some kind of gift. Now the hotel might give you some amenity or gift because of a genuine inconvenience or problem but don't go bartering for them.

Truth is most hotels have very clear policies and procedures highlighting what level of guest problem receives what level of compensation. So if you want or expect some kind of compensation make sure its over something really important. Even then you should be realistic and make sure that what you are asking the hotel for is reasonable. .

Finally, if you can't get the problem satisfactorily resolved by the front desk personnel ask for the property manager or the particular department manager who is responsible for the particular complaint you have, to step in. However, you should save this action for the most egregious of complaints.  Remember this step is only taken if your complaints have gone unheard or unattended  Make sure you can state clearly the times and staff (by name) with whom the complaints were lodged (Before taking this step make sure your complaint is real). This allows the hotel to immediately fix the problem while also going the extra mile and providing a complimentary amenity.

If you follow these simple rules I believe you'll find most properties will bend over backward to make your stay at their property a great experience. Trust me, they know that unsatisfied guests tell more people about their bad experience than satisfied guests. They want their quests to come away happy but they also know what is reasonable and what is not.