You could excel in service in every way, shape, or form, and still encounter difficult guests. Every accommodation business will deal with them at some point – you just need to learn how to be prepared, and respond in the right way.

Here are some pointers that are guaranteed to reduce complaints, and placate even your most difficult guests.

Set guest expectations

When you set guest expectations, you not only drastically reduce unhappy guests, but you also protect yourself in the process.

Besides accurately depicting your property online (through realistic photos and descriptions), you can also set clear terms and policies, communicating them upon the time of booking.

One example is for out-of-the-ordinary guests, such as your wedding and other event guests.

Take the time to research and develop a contract specific to each reservation. For example, if guests want to rent the entire property as a vacation rental (instead of staying as a guest of your bed and breakfast), make it absolutely clear that breakfast is not included, and grounds fees may apply.

It’s also important to identify the person responsible for representing the group booking legally, so you have a single point of contact.

Cancellations can be high in these kinds of cases, especially when guests claim that their expectations were not set correctly. Make sure you take a deposit long before the event date, and ask for the remainder long before their arrival.

Terms and conditions are there to minimise disputes, because both sides will be totally clear about what’s expected from them.

Keep your cool

When dealing with particularly passionate guests, you must keep your cool. No matter how tempting it may be to raise your voice, put yourself in their shoes and try to be empathetic.

Apologise for what happened, and speak with confidence. It doesn’t help the situation to get caught up in the emotion – in fact, it will only make the situation worse.

You’re running an accommodation business, and you have a responsibility to the complaining guest as well as all of your other staying guests. Always stay professional.

Focus on solutions

It’s important to try to find a solution as fast as possible. First, repeat what your guest has said to you back to them. This shows you acknowledge the source of their complaint and you’re listening.

Then, ask your guest what they would like to happen. You may want to offer them something complimentary to show them that you care more about their experience than the bottom line.

Every complaint can teach you something about your business, no matter how painful it can be to face. Try to turn it into a positive learning experience – where you take constructive criticism on board to improve your bed and breakfast’s offering.

Follow up

After you’ve dealt with your guest, it’s important to follow up with them. Contact them via email or phone to ask if they were happy with how the complaint was dealt with, and if anything else can be done.

This will show that you really care about their experience at your property, and it will also reduce the chances of your guest feeling neglected and leaving you a negative online review.

In the off-chance that your guest does leave you feedback online, it’s very important that you respond – whether it’s positive or negative feedback.

When responding to a review, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Thank the guest for staying at your small hotel.
  • Thank them for taking the time to give their feedback.
  • Always keep a friendly and professional tone.
  • Address any negative feedback and outline any steps you have taken to improve.
  • Invite the guest to stay with you again.

If more discussion is necessary, take the conversation offline, or invite the guest to write more in a private message or to your front desk email.

Want more tips on how to create an irresistible online presence? Download our free ebook!

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).