Almost all of us have had a bad experience with a hotel at one point or another. Perhaps the room was not entirely clean, had an odor, or was located a little too close to the ice machine. Maybe the complimentary continental breakfast was only worth what you paid. Or perhaps the 17 year old front desk clerk was too busy on her BlackBerry to check you out, making you miss the next shuttle bus to the airport.
Whatever the case may be, consumers should not just complain to their family and friends after they get home from their vacation or business trip. Raise the issue with the hotel – if done correctly, you not only may resolve the problem but you may receive compensation. Wouldn't it be great to receive a free hotel stays, room upgrades, discount coupons, or even cash refunds for your troubles? Follow these 3 steps for best results to resolving a hotel complaint:
1. Address the problem right away: When something goes wrong with your hotel stay, the first course of action is to raise the issue with the hotel clerk as soon as the problem is discovered. Simply explain to them how your expectation is not being met and what you would like them to do about it.
Suppose you receive a room that is located near the ice machine and you can hear the machine every time someone goes for ice. Tell the front desk that your room is noisy due to the ice machine, that you are a light sleeper and would like to be moved. When speaking with hotel staff, always remain calm and polite but do not be afraid to assert yourself. For instance, do not hesitate to tell them that you are willing to take a room upgrade but a downgrade is not acceptable.
2. Go to top (but be reasonable): Elevate your problem to the hotel manager on duty. Do not waste your time with the lower level staff if they are not easily willing to resolve the problem or do not have the authority to do so. When you speak to the hotel manager, understand that even the manager not be able to accommodate your request. If it is a different hotel room you are seeking, the hotel may be at maximum capacity. Try to be flexible and think outside the box. If the pool is closed, perhaps there is a nearby hotel whose pool you can use. The point is this – work with the hotel to find a solution.
3. The Letter of Complaint: If the hotel cannot adequately resolve the issue, it is a good idea to write a letter. A good letter of complaint to a hotel starts before you even leave the hotel. Take notes of the dates and times of key events, the name and position of the staff you spoke with, and the nature of the conversation. These notes will come in handy. The letter should be sent to the highest person in the company you can find – even the CEO. Stick to the facts and do not be rude. Most importantly, tell them how you would like to be compensated. Common items received include full or partial refunds, complimentary future stays, hotel loyalty points, and discount coupons.
I travel up to 100 days per year. While many hotels fail to meet certain standards, promises and expectations, I find that most hotels are genuinely interested in resolving problems. Do not hesitate to tell someone when something is not right. You may find the hotel is willing to fix the problem while receiving valuable feedback to improve the stay of future visitors.