It’s a hotelier’s worst nightmare. A guest is mad about a failure of service, and they’re letting everyone within earshot know. How should a hotel associate handle an angry guest?
It’s not always going to be easy — the day-to-day experience of the hospitality industry can be mentally and physically taxing, especially when dealing with frustrated guests. When a hotel employee moves through these challenges and comes out on the other side, however, the rewards can be very satisfying — and can even provide tools for professional growth.
This article will outline the most effective strategies for handling hotel guest complaints while understanding that the complaints can also be fuel for finding future success. By handling angry guests with grace, hotel professionals can successfully refocus energy and continue to thrive within their role.
How to Handle Angry Guests in Hotels: 5 Key Tips
Disgruntled guests happen; that’s just the way things go in the hotel industry. Sometimes complaints are warranted, other times they’re not — regardless, they’re going to happen. As such, it’s vital to understand how to handle these types of situations and not allow them to completely derail the rest of the workday.
Here are a few specific strategies on how to best handle an angry hotel guest.
1. Smile and Listen
Getting yelled at sucks — especially if it’s for something that couldn’t be controlled or isn’t your fault. Sometimes, things just need to be taken in stride. Often, a hotel guest doesn’t even need to be told they are “right” — they just need to feel like they’re being heard. Friendliness and politeness both go a long way in these moments.
When met with an angry hotel guest, a simple way to disarm the situation is by smiling and listening. Repeat the mantra in your head: Smile and listen. Smile and listen. Smile and listen.
Using this strategy, you might be surprised how quickly a hostile situation cools down.
2. Set Aside Time to Refresh and Take Deep Breaths
Once the situation has dissipated after the initial interaction with an angry hotel guest, take some time to refresh. Go outside. Maybe take a walk. Breathe deeply. Understand that this moment will pass and that it doesn’t determine your self-worth.
Taking this time for yourself will allow your brain to decompress — eventually allowing you to calmly and effectively find a solution. Communication with an angry hotel guest is a lot easier when a hotelier isn’t angry or defensive. Be the bigger person and proactively try to find solutions.
3. Remind Yourself Not to Take Things Personally
This step is especially hard, given that people invest so much energy in their work; it can be difficult to not take criticism personally. That’s just what a hotel associate has to do in the face of an angry guest — know that the agitated guest’s anger does not define the hotel employee’s professional performance.
Creating this separation will allow a hotel associate to soberly analyze any situation and take proper action. Not getting caught up in an emotionally charged moment is the first step to presenting solutions.
In short, keep your cool.
4. Honestly Analyze the Situation, Look at the Facts, and Determine Next Steps
Unless someone is being extremely unreasonable, a hotel guest almost never becomes angry for no reason. It’s important to maintain composure throughout these interactions, because there’s a strong chance that at least part of the angry hotel guest’s frustration is justified. Hotel staff need to listen and understand to rectify the situation.
Proper analysis requires honest self-reflection. Was the person wronged? Did they receive inadequate service? Could things have been done differently? Don’t buckle to unreasonable behavior, but at the end of the day, the customer is often valid in their criticism.
Once they properly analyze the cause of a guest’s anger, hotel employees must figure out the remedy. Sometimes, that means something as simple as writing an apology letter to a guest complaint. Other times, it requires monetary solutions — or crediting future stays. It’s up to hoteliers to set standards and then enforce those standards.
5. Reflect, Learn, and Grow
Once the hotel guest complaint has been taken care of and the situation has resolved itself, hotel associates must take time to reflect honestly on what happened, learn from the mistakes that led to the angry guest in the first place, and then figure out how to ensure no other guest faces such an issue.
The hospitality industry is fast-paced; it can be easy for employees to move on to the next task rather than look back. Take the time to reflect, learn, and grow — or run the risk of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Manage Guests to Become a Better Hospitality Worker
The hotel and hospitality industries are famously challenging. Clients have high expectations while staff operate under a tremendous amount of pressure. This pressure creates a specific set of challenges, and it takes a certain set of skills to navigate them.
To succeed and grow in the industry, employees must be accepting of these tough situations and use them as moments of growth. It’s not easy, but these five tips will ultimately help you become a better professional.
Looking for more professional guidance? Discover our blog for even more tips on growing your skills in hospitality.