At the end of June, I had a very disappointing stay at a hotel in St. Louis. Many people were unhappy with their stay. Some people were able to get their stay for free and others received no resolution. What was the difference?
The people who were successful were able to do three key things:
1. Be polite, but firm 2. Clearly explain how the hotel failed to meet expectations. 3. Articulate a resolution
Be Polite But Firm
Screaming and yelling will not get the best resolution. You are depending on the person you are speaking with to be your advocate and to be able to figure out a resolution to your problem. If you are screaming, that person will either get angry or flustered - that is not a state of mind that leads to a resolution. Be calm. Phrases such as "I need your help to resolve this. What other accommodations can you make?" are very useful. The phrase "I need your help" can go a long way. It makes the two of you a team rather than you versus the hotel clerk. You may have to lead the person through the problem solving process. For instance, if your room was unsatisfactory - Ask questions like, "What other rooms are available?" One of my favorite questions is "What would you do if you were in my position?" This can open a new set of options.
Clearly Explain How the Hotel Failed to Meet Your Expectations
You have to be able to explain what the problems were. If your issue is that the room is dirty, take a picture and be specific. For example: "My room was not cleaned properly. We found wrappers in the closet and the bathroom floor turned black when it got wet. Here's the picture. This is not acceptable." If you can't explain in detail the problem, the hotel will be unable to understand the severity of the issue.
Articulate a Resolution
I overheard a conversation between two gentlemen and the hotel manager. The gentlemen had clearly explained how the hotel failed to meet their expectations, but they couldn't articulate what resolves the issue. The Hotel Manager said at least three times, "I want to resolve this for you, but I don't know what would do it." Be prepared with a resolution and be reasonable. The inconvenience of changing rooms could be alleviated by free breakfasts, free wifi or free parking. If you can come up with a resolution that doesn't cost the hotel money, but saves you money - like free wifi or free parking - you will be more likely to reach resolution. Another example is asking for points equal to a night's stay or a free future night's stay if the hotel is unwilling to refund your stay.