Dealing with difficult and demanding guests after the initial thought of 'where is the cellar key!'
One of the many challenging roles of being a General Manager or indeed a Duty Manager of a hotel, and unfortunately or maybe fortunately in my case I/ we are not on duty 365 days 24/7 hours of the day, is dealing with the demanding.
You must also realise that in our industry we command little 'respect' amongst professionals however you must also understand that we do deal with humans, children, alcohol, families and a few other subjectives that may not be appropriate to mention – oh and by the way we have to be experts in the fields of nutrition, health and safety, sleep patterns, psychology and what colour the duvet needs to be!
I could tell you a story or two of 'professionals' when they are clocked off but I better not.
Thankfully they tend to be few and far between but there is always one or two.
A challenging guest could be a celebrity or a VIP, they could just be an ordinary person like you and me.
So, how do we deal with guests like this? Well, it helps to remember that challenging guests are easily stressed or have eclectic or unreasonable expectations. It is key to stay calm in such a situation and try to understand exactly what point the customer is trying to make so we can do our best to resolve the situation if we can. On the other hand however, the guest may take your calmness as an indication you don't care as much as they do, so serious people reading skills are required. Politicians note 'conflict resolution' come to us for advice! Ultimately you need to make them see and feel you are taking their issues seriously. By doing what you can to help, it will with any luck turn their unfriendly and challenging behaviour around and in turn their experience will become a more positive one. Sadly however the 'unhinged' guest sometimes just have to be put up with until they leave but look on the bright side it gives the staff something to bemoan instead of me! More often than not in our case they then continue to return, mumble and grumble, but still refuse to stay elsewhere even if we offer to assist them out!
We can occasionally be our own worst enemy and so it is important to manage our guests expectation where we can. People handling is not for the feint hearted and it is therefore possible that you misread. For example, we use the BRA theory (Best Room Available) which means, if we have a better room available when you check in, we will upgrade you automatically which should put you in a good mood. This goes down well and helps create advocates for us, however there are those that then expect it to happen on all future visits, and of course if we can't the guest can turn into a bit of a sulker. This is where the unrealistic bit steps in. We have in the past had an offer that the guest would be happy to let the situation drop if we turn their room in to a deluxe whilst they wait. Quite a serious suggestion that took us all by surprise!
All of our hotel managers and the staff will always do their best to accommodate and make your stay as pleasant, comfortable and enjoyable as they can and we do our best to rectify or find alternative solutions for you wherever possible. Ultimately we want all of our guests to leave us happy and planing their return visit! What is the point of us 'deliberately' going out of our way to annoy you? Sometimes contrary to suggestion we are not 'Basil'.