The top 5 hotel guest complaints and how staff can respond
Dealing with guest complaints is one of the biggest challenges for any member of a hotel staff. Even staff that have no ability to make changes or fix the problem are often confronted with an upset or angry guest. While you can’t prepare for every possible complaint, it is possible for a prepared hotelier to train their staff on how to respond to the most common complaints.
In every establishment, there will be a slightly different set of most common complaints based on your location, amenities, clientele, and training procedures. In some cases, only you can know what your guests are most likely to complain about. However, there are also universal issues that guests complain about in every hotel across the world. Our top five complaints today were found by analyzing the data in a hospitality ticketing app, including the percentage of total complaints each one represents. Today, we’re here to address not only the most common complaints, but how staff can best respond to them in most scenarios.
1) “My room is too hot/cold.”
Guest comfort is paramount for any hotel, and temperature is a vital part of that comfort. A guest cannot relax and enjoy themselves while sweating or shivering which is why room temperature is the number one most common guest complaint. According to the data, 24% or nearly 1/4 of all guest complaints have to do with room temperature.
What your staff can do about room temperature will depend on what the problem is. In most cases, the best way to handle this is to direct your guests on how to adjust the temperature for themselves with their in-room AC unit or thermostat. Ideally, there will be easily readable printed instructions on the unit itself but be prepared to walk guests step-by-step through the process.
For guests that insist they just don’t understand thermostat technology, your staff may need to ask their preferred temperature and set the thermostat themselves.
2) “I can’t access the Wifi.”
After room temperature, wifi access is the second most common complaint. Wifi complaints make up 14 percent of total complaints logged in the service app, and to no one’s surprise. Nearly 100% of modern guests have a phone, laptop, or tablet that they would like to connect to the internet, whether that is to research local attractions or work on a business trip.
While there’s not much staff can do about ‘slow’ wifi, many guests will simply need help getting connected when they first check in. Often, wifi passwords are hand-written on a card in the guest book. The password may be hard to see or your proprietary wifi login may be confusing to navigate. Make sure staff are trained in the wifi login process so they can carefully walk guests through this as needed. As for wifi speed, this should be handled as one of many unsolvable ‘problems’ unless you really do have an on-site network admin.
3) “I can hear too much noise in my room.”
When people book a hotel room, they expect peace and quiet for a relaxing stay. Of course, the city and other guests don’t always comply with this situation. Hearing outside noise in the room makes up 11 percent of guest complaints and often for good reason. While you may not be able to control the source of their noise problem or add insulation to the walls, there are a few things staff can do.
If the noise is coming from outside the hotel, your staff can offer to move the guest up several floors or across the floor plan to get them away from the noise. This transition will be easier (and more enjoyable) with a luggage cart so that guests don’t have to pack completely back up. If the noise is coming from inside the hotel (other guests or, perhaps, a service room), you can either try to squelch the noise or, again, move the guest.
If the guest does not want to move or retract their complaint, consider offering them complimentary ear plugs.
4) “I found a ___, my room isn’t clean!”
Hotel rooms are expected to be spotless and pristine for each new guest, and an uncleanly room is any hotelier’s definition of a bad day. From hair in the tub to sneakers left in a bottom drawer, guests usually have legitimate reasons for complaints about room cleanliness. These complaints make up about 10 percent of the total complaints in a year.
For the most part, room cleanliness issues are usually solved with profuse apologies and a quick rectification. Some guests will be fine with a quick re-cleaning and some will be truly disgusted or outraged. For upset guests that will move, offer them a new (recently inspected) room and a ‘fresh start’ on feeling luxurious. If they won’t move, offer them a complimentary meal in the restaurant or spa treatment while cleaning staff takes another swing at making the room pristine.
5) “I have a problem with your hotel service…”
The fifth most common guest complaint at 9% is a problem with some service in the hotel. Perhaps their room service meal was late or cold, or they couldn’t book a spa treatment, or the concierge desk would not do something for them that concierge desks do not do. Service complaints are among the most likely to be bogus or, at least, not based entirely in reality. But each one should be taken seriously for the sake of guests and solving any real problems when they occur.
Each service-related complaint must be handled with the utmost care and respect. Apologize to the guest and offer the closest thing your hotel can provide to what they expected to receive. If the issue could be legitimate (a rude staff member, an unfortunate meal, etc), be sure to conduct an investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Assure the guest that the issue is being taken care of and do your best to make them happy after this point.
With preparation and understanding of common guest complaints, it is possible to train every member of your staff to respond correctly when a guest has a problem. From the front desk staff to bellhops and room service, customer complaints are a serious issue that must be handled with care. Even complaints that seem silly or unrealistic. The purpose of complaint management is first to make guests happy and, second, to fix the original problem if there was one. In many cases, guests simply need a little guidance, more information, or to be placated about an upset.