Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter and all the other internet platforms offering perturbed guests a place to share their opinions, can cost you. If you are a frequent whiner, companies will know it.
Both sides of the traveling experience have valid points when it comes to the complaints department…
No restaurant, hotel or other service is 100% perfect all the time. On the other end, guests are forking over their savings account or per-arranging every detail of their trip and expect their time and money’s worth. Both sides have fair points, but what happens when there is an issue?
A few General Managers in the hospitality field shared the do’s and don’ts to getting a problem resolved.
Give Peace a Chance
“Some frustrated customers will jump straight to voicing their displeasure with comments on social media or review websites. If you give the establishment a chance to fix the problem before taking public measures, your case will be treated and handled with more care and respect,” a GM of large chain hotel confessed.
This is where leaving negative opinions can hurt your case for legitimate complaints. Chances are, the staff won’t see your complaint until you have left. If you address the issue with staff first, you will increase the level of respect for your complaint versus blasting the issue online. If they see your grievance online, the damage has already been done.
“The online complaint leaves a negative digital footprint for the business. Likewise, it leaves a trail of your complaints. If you have a history of sharing every negative detail, we can see that too.”
The customer service team will also be looking for evidence of repeated negative reviews. If you have a trail of criticisms, it won’t help your case. It may not be the case, but it comes across as an attempt to get refunds or additional perks free of charge.
“Generally speaking, reps are far less inclined to rectify the situation if you haven’t given them a chance.”
More Smiles, Less HULK SMASH
There is a strong case to make complaints in person whenever you can. You are more likely to get immediate response if you are standing in front of staff with an understanding smile, versus making an angry phone call.
“If someone presents an issue in person, staff can’t put the issue on hold. Guests are less likely to get lost in the chain of relaying messages and it shows the desk clerks you are serious about getting immediate action. If you are kind about it, smile or convey an understanding, you can probably count on an additional perk later.“
Whether you call or show in person, make sure your tone is agreeable and open. Also, make an effort to locate the correct person or department you need.
“The agents at the front desk usually bear the brunt end of complaints. They are rarely the ones who are responsible for the issue, so ask who need to speak with to resolve the problem. Being polite will make anyone more inclined to help you or offer you an extra perk to ensure your satisfaction.”
The Extreme Cases
There are extreme cases. Recently, Page Six ran a feature regarding a hotel in Hudson, New York. At the time, the hotel’s site featured a built-in fee for negative reviews for those wedding guests who left deposits.
“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”
Since the article ran, the hotel has removed the $500 fee warning and told CNBC the fee was “a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.”
“This situation perplexes me. If you don’t take your business policies seriously, why should guests?” one manager wondered upon reading the article. “If you have one policy that is meant as a joke, it leaves your other policies open to questioning and interpretation. It does bring up the point that policies vary across the board. Knowing the hotel’s rules before you book can save future hassles.“
Knowing of any cancellation fees or charges in advance will help prevent stick shock when you get your final bill. Often, the bill you see when booking online are subtotals that don’t include charges for things like parking or cleaning along with resort fees. Just another reason you should call to book hotels. Ask if there are any additional costs that aren’t present in the total they give you.