CHECK­ING OUT? PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR BUT

Hospitality 9ja - - Table Of Contents - Doug Kennedy

As the old ax­iom goes, “The worst com­plaint is the one

that is never men­tioned.” That's why in my hos­pi­tal­ity train­ing work­shops I al­ways try to shift the par­a­digm of my par­tic­i­pants into see­ing guest com­plaints as sec­ond chance op­por­tu­ni­ties. As I of­ten say, we should en­cour­age guests to voice their con­cerns and cel­e­brate neg­a­tive feed­back. Bet­ter that a guest shares their is­sues and com­plaints with us while they are in-house rather than wait­ing un­til they leave and go­ing on­line to post a neg­a­tive guest re­view.

Of course all ho­tel man­agers would pre­fer that a guest bring a ser­vice gap is­sue to our at­ten­tion when it hap­pens. How­ever, de­spite all the ta­ble tent sig­nage that has been placed in guests' rooms to en­cour­age them to no­tify a staff mem­ber if ser­vice falls short, very of­ten they do not do so. As a re­sult the best time to so­licit guest feed­back is dur­ing the check-out process.

While many guests these days use ex­press check-out, there are still plenty that stop by the front desk for their zero bal­ance re­ceipt, to turn in their key, or to ask for as­sis­tance with lug­gage stor­age or trans­porta­tion. This is the per­fect time to try to get to the guest's “but.” (Please note the spell­ing!) The rst step to get­ting the “but” is to truly let the guest know you care by demon­strat­ing em­pa­thy. In other words, rather than just in­dif­fer­ently say­ing in pass­ing “How was your stay, good?” take time to let guests know you sin­cerely care.

Part of this is train­ing your front desk col­leagues to use the proper phrase­ol­ogy and an open-ended ques­tion such as: “So tell me, how was your stay with us?” How­ever the most im­por­tant part is to con­vey sin­cer­ity with body lan­guage and eye con­tact so they un­der­stand that you re­ally want to know.

If they know you truly care, most guests will give you their “but”; they will start by say­ing some­thing pos­i­tive, then point out one short­com­ing. Typ­i­cally they will say some­thing like “Over­all, ev­ery­thing was re­ally great, but…” and fol­low with an is­sue or con­cern, then end their com­men­tary on pos­i­tive note by say­ing “Other than that, we had a won­der­ful stay.”

In this sce­nario, most guests' “buts” are small and rel­a­tively in­con­se­quen­tial, so the re­sponse should be to thank the guest for bring­ing it to our at­ten­tion, as­sure them that we will ad­dress it in the fu­ture, and wish them a fond farewell. How­ever, if the guest has a big­ger “but” to share, be sure to also so em­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing to the above. Val­i­date their con­cern by also say­ing, “I can imag­ine that was an in­con­ve­nience for you and I apol­o­gize that we fell short of your ex­pec­ta­tion.”

So when you have your next front desk meet­ing, re­mind your staff that the next time they en­counter a guest at de­par­ture, be sure to go for the “but.”

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