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5 Hotel Service Mistakes to Avoid

Learn from these common hotel mistakes to stay on top of your guest service game.

Lack of friendliness from staff, dirty rooms or common areas and annoying noise are common hotel guest complaints that can give a hotel a bad reputation.

“The hospitality industry is all about delivering a seamless customer service experience,” hospitality service provider Kapture states. “One bad customer experience can have an immense impact on the reputation of the hotel.” On the other hand, so can one good customer service experience.

Here are five common hotel customer service mistakes to avoid, and lessons to learn from those missteps so you can stand out from the competition:

1. Making a bad first impression

The most basic way to get off to a good start with your guests: greet them in a sincere and friendly manner when they walk in the door. That applies even if they’re using a digital key and are breezing by the front desk on their way in. I’ve had a few recent hotel stays where the front desk staff either didn’t greet me at all or gave a distant, cool “hello, ma’am” that almost made me feel like an interloper on the property.

Service lesson: Take advantage of the key moment a customer walks in the door of your hotel to offer a sincere, genuine and friendly hello. Then continue to greet them warmly each time you interact.

2. Lack of flexibility

In the hospitality industry, flexibility is the name of the game. That means doing what you can to accommodate reasonable customer requests, whether it’s an early check-in, a late check-out or an extra service. Lack of flexibility is a common feature in negative hotel reviews, like one from a customer who was irate that an Indiana hotel refused to modify a reservation without an extra charge.

Service lesson: Do what you can to offer flexibility when dealing with your guests, especially now that travel delays have become more common.

3. Poor internet service

One of the most common hotel guest complaints: slow or glitchy Wi-Fi service. I’ve experienced issues with the internet in about eight out of 10 recent hotel stays. The most common problems I’ve experienced are annoying barriers to getting online, like glitchy pop-up log-in screens, and slow service. Today, good internet service is just as important as clean rooms and friendly service.

Service lesson: Upgrade your Wi-Fi if you can. And, even if you can’t, make sure to provide guests with clear login instructions at check-in so they don’t have to scramble to try to connect.

4. Gossiping staff

I recently spent a weekend at a hotel in Louisiana for a friend’s wedding. It was a well-reviewed hotel, but I noticed a number of easily fixable guest service foibles. One that bugged me: gossiping staff. A few times when I went down to the lobby, I noticed another guest standing at the front desk while two staff members bantered, gossiped and held an insider conversation about their jobs and coworkers, all while the guest stood by looking uncomfortable.

Service lesson: While it’s great to have staff who get along and enjoy each other’s company, make sure they’re saving detailed personal chit-chat for breaks or time off.

5. Failing to offer solutions

During a recent stay at a nice extended-stay hotel, I wanted to split a bottle of wine with my husband in our room. The only glasses in the kitchenette in our room were large water tumblers, not really suitable for sipping vino. So I ran down to the lobby to ask if they had a few wine glasses we could borrow, and the front desk staff member simply said: “No.” I ended up having to solve my own problem by asking if she could grab me two small plastic juice glasses from the closed breakfast bar, and she kindly agreed.

Service lesson: Keep common extra amenities around in case of guests request them. If you have to say no to a customer request, look for an alternative solution or make a suggestion so they feel you’re going above and beyond.

Learn from these common service mistakes so you can improve your service, guest satisfaction and the quality of the reviews that are so important for bringing new guests in the door.