6 things you shouldn’t say when complaining in a hotel or resort

All right, today something not related to financial freedom. Let me share with you today something from my place of work.

As some of my readers know, I am a hotel manager and thus regularly confronted with guest feedback. Most of the time it’s great, but occasionally it happens that I receive some unpleasant comments.

Complaints from guests are part of the job. You just can’t make everyone happy and it does happen occasionally that something goes wrong. But no matter what happened and how things turn out, do yourself and the manager a favor and try to avoid those phrases:

  1. I traveled all over the world and stayed in the BEST hotels. It NEVER happened before. This one is a classic and a sure way for a manager and any staff around to roll their eyes in their head. You might have traveled the world, but we worked there. And trust me, chances are that we heard the same comments in all those hotels. Also, be careful if you mention any other hotel by name, as there is a chance that the manager you talk to actually worked there – and heard there exactly the same comments.
  2. This is not a 5-star luxury hotel! A tricky one. First, be sure that you actually know what you are talking about. Holiday Inn, Ibis, Ramada, Sheraton, Hilton. That’s not 5-star luxury hotels!
    But even if it’s a Kempinski, Six Senses, Four Seasons or a Ritz Carlton, you should bear in mind: Things in buildings or rooms break occasionally, no matter how many stars the hotel has. Services are still provided by human beings who tend to do mistakes. That’s how the world works. Do yourself a favor and relax. Tell us what happened and we will see to find a solution for you.
  3. I thought I will tell you this before writing on TripAdvisor. Ah, another classic. The blackmail approach. Yes, this is blackmail, especially when it’s followed by a request for compensation or additional benefit(s). You see, if you start a conversation and try to pressure a hotel manager by threatening him or her with negative online reviews, you are immediately losing all sympathy. And depending on the manager, you might lose much more. Because unless there is a really serious issue at hand, I for my part usually reject any further requests and won’t do anything more for you than absolutely necessary. A bad review is not good, but I rather accept it than allow myself to be blackmailed. And I will also point this out when I reply to your review or when I deal with your travel agent. In the worst case scenario, you might actually even get black-listed from an entire brand. Is it really necessary to go that way? Seriously, we are working in hotels to help our guests, not to fight with them. So why not have a normal conversation without trying to leverage anyone?
  4. I don’t want to complain, but… All right, to be clear: A complaint is not a bad thing. Just be straightforward and tell us what happened, and we will tell you what we can do for you. Our job is to help you, and we honestly want to do just that.
  5. How will you compensate me for this? It’s good to be straightforward, but unless there is a serious defect in your room or a service-incurred any kind of damage to you, there is actually usually no reason or entitlement to receive any kind of compensation.
    When there is a problem, then we will solve it. If you have an idea for an improvement, then we might consider it. But having a different perspective on something or simply not liking how something looks or is being done, it does not mean that you can get a room discount, a complimentary meal or a drink at the bar. I am actually constantly surprised how people do not feel embarrassed to request stuff. And no, compensation is not the equivalent to no service. Not taking care is.
  6. I paid A LOT of money for a luxury hotel. Well, this might be true – from your point of view. But in most cases, it’s not. Let me first clarify that luxury is a flicky term. Unless you are staying at a true boutique property with ultra-personalized service and with caviar and champagne on the breakfast buffet, then chances are high that it’s rather a glorified 5-star hotel. 5 stars don’t have anything to do with luxury. The stars barely give you an indication of the hotel facilities that you may expect.
    Trust me on that, if you can really afford to book a luxury property, then you would never bring up money as an argument. People who can afford luxury properties pay attention to get what they want, not how much they paid for it. One or two hundred dollars a night is NOT a lot of money and if you could barely scrap that together to get to the hotel you dreamed of, then you simply booked above your means. Even more so, if you booked a super promotion like a Groupon package or Luxury Escapes. Seriously. I understand everybody wants to get some feel of glamour from time to time, but it’s just not it. Luxury properties don’t participate in this kind of promotions.
    But back to the complaint… The right way to bring up a complaint here is to bring the magic word “value” into the conversation. Tell me that the value you receive is not matching your expectations and be sure that we will do our best to help you with that.

There are actually many more, but let me lead in on the hotel world with these five first. A book might follow once I finish my career.

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