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How to Handle Hotel Complaints for a Better Guest Experience

Listening to and addressing guest complaints helps keep guests happy and more likely to book your hotel again.

There’s no limit to the number of things that can upset a hotel guest, from a room that wasn’t cleaned properly to noisy neighbors to burned-out light bulbs, making the hallway feel unsafe.

When guests complain, it may be tempting for staff or management to minimize their concerns or not address them immediately. But failing to address complaints could alienate that guest for good, with damaging ripple effects to your brand’s reputation.

“Whether by raising alarm while on the property or by harming your ranking with a poor online review, a hotel guest with a complaint can leave a lasting mark,” according to “Handling Guest Complaints: The Complete Guide for Hotels,” a report from Cvent, a meetings, events and hospitality software provider.

“Successful hoteliers and hospitality professionals understand how an unresolved guest issue can affect a hotel’s performance, and they place significant value on handling guest complaints smoothly.”

“As a hotelier, you are in the business of managing all sorts of guests,” according to online hotel management software provider eZee Absolute. “You may find some of the guests being calm in their manner to express their displeasure whereas others may just start yelling at you while addressing the complaint.

“However, in the worst case, they may add a complaint on social media platforms, thus hampering the hotel’s reputation.”

The most common guest complaints center around the following issues, according to Cvent and eZee Absolute:

  • Dirty and/or smelly rooms
  • Poor customer service
  • Room temperature
  • Spotty or non-working Wi-Fi
  • Noisy hotel guests
  • High hallway or parking lot traffic
  • Broken in-room or on-site amenities
  • Maintenance issues such as out-of-order elevators
  • Food and beverage service complaints

Other guest complaints like issues with a third-party site, not receiving a package delivery or being stranded due to a blizzard aren’t even within the hotel’s control.

Read on for four tips from Cvent on how to handle guest complaints in a manner that addresses the issue and helps the guest feel listened to and valued.

Listen intently

Whether the complaint is about hair in the bathtub, boisterous people loitering in the hallway or no towels in the room, the key to addressing guest complaints is to stay calm and listen.

“As trying as it may be at times, the first step to effectively handling guest complaints is to listen calmly,” says Cvent. “Do not enter the conversation with arrogance or make assumptions about what is upsetting the guest. If a guest is coming to you with a problem, it’s usually because they want to be heard. Hear them out.”

Consider the guest’s personality

Let’s face it. Some people complain about anything and everything nearly everywhere they go. Others complain about matters that anyone would consider serious such as no heat in the room or no hot water. There are even guests that complain in hopes of getting a reduced rate or a free night.

So, it’s important to try to understand what type of guest is bringing a complaint to the table and then address the issue the best you can.

“When dealing with a complaint, identify the guest’s energy, personality type, and choose a problem-solving strategy that fits the specific situation,” recommends Cvent.

Offer a solution

Once you figure out the type of guest who’s complaining and the cause of their complaint, Cvent suggests looking for a solution that can resolve the issue.

“Guest complaints can often be resolved with a simple acknowledgment followed by an apology and a commitment to doing better next time,” says Cvent. Other complaints, however, may require a monetary adjustment to their bill or a one-on-one conversation with a hotel manager.

Follow up

Once you’ve addressed the guest complaint, follow up to make sure the issue was actually resolved. For example, if the TV wasn’t working properly, contact the guest to make sure it’s now up and running.

“When a guest makes a complaint during departure, or after they have left the hotel, look to see if the guest has any upcoming or future reservations,” says Cvent. “If so, make a note in their next reservation to remind staff of the recent complaint. Double-check their reservation details and room prior to arrival to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape.”