Why Your Guests Won’t Tell You When They Have an Issue


Most people believe that as long as guests aren’t complaining, they must be satisfied. This isn’t, however, strictly true. Research from a Huffington Post article shows that only one out of every 26 unhappy guests bothers to voice their concerns about their stay, and, moreover, that 91 percent of those who want to complain simply never come back. This is an unfortunate situation for hotels, as the Harvard Business Review reports that it costs anywhere from five to 25 times more to acquire a new guest than it does to retain an existing one.

Another unsettling thought: just because they aren’t complaining to the hotel doesn’t mean they aren’t complaining elsewhere — to 10 or 15 of their friends, for example.

To figure out how to get these silent guests to communicate their concerns, hoteliers must first understand why guests choose not to bring their concerns forward. For the most part, complaining comes as easily to humans as breathing — and is shown, in fact, to have numerous health benefits — yet in customer service situations, people often choose to say nothing. There are several reasons for this.

It’s inconvenient, complicated, or just too much effort

Sometimes it’s easier to just walk away (or write a scathing post on Twitter) than it is to go all the way down to the front desk, wait to speak to the clerk, then wait some more to speak to the manager, before finally — possibly — getting the issue resolved.

They also know other avenues can be equally troubling. If they call a customer service help line, they might have to contend with a never-ending phone tree, or get stuck on hold for a long period of time. In such cases, many will take the path of least resistance and merely choose not to say anything.

They’re too shy to speak up

And then there are the guests who want to say something, but do not want to make a scene. As The Wire stated in a recent article; conflict is part of being human, but so is the avoidance of it; many guests will choose the most painless option for resolving their problem, and that resolution sometimes involves going to a competitor for service instead.

They don’t believe it will get them anywhere

Many guests think their issue is so complex that a satisfying resolution can’t possibly be found. In some cases, they’ve probably been burned before. Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve booked a room at a hotel. When you arrive, you find that your room has a view of the parking lot and the air conditioner is broken. You go down to the desk to ask for a new room, but they tell you they’re fully booked and can do nothing for you, besides send up a repairman sometime in the next couple of hours.

Having faced such a scenario before, many guests may conclude that there is little point in bringing an issue up with the hotel.

They fear incurring the brand’s wrath

Not all customer service representatives are equipped to provide guests with courteous service. When a guest has been treated with derision by management in the past, they sometimes worry that the incident will repeat itself at a new property. In such cases, they feel it is safer to say nothing than be treated harshly by staff, no matter how well-trained and professional your own staff may be.

Can you identify other reasons guests might choose not to voice their concerns? Let us know in the comments or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter — and keep an eye on our blog next week to learn how you can get your guests to come to you with their concerns.


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