The Mews Blog > Conflict resolution strategies to deal with unhappy hotel guests
Nothing is worse for your brand's reputation than unhappy guests. If you're looking for the best ways to handle guest conflict resolution at your hotel, you're at the right place. Dissatisfied guests can even get others to talk negatively about your hotel, resulting in fewer returning customers.
All of this can be avoided by understanding conflict resolution strategies. Even luxury five-star resorts receive complaints, so it's best to prepare your staff for handling unhappy guests.
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Why are conflict resolutions strategies important in a hotel?
Conflict resolution strategies show you the best way to approach a negative situation, defer an angry client, and implement strategies for sustaining your brand’s reputation. The better your conflict resolution, the quicker your business can recover from a bad experience. Discover ways to manage a hotel crisis.
All team members should complete conflict resolution training. Upskilling improves employee satisfaction while ensuring everyone knows how to handle a negative experience – even in the absence of a manager.
How to handle conflict situations with unhappy guests?
Let’s explore the best conflict resolution strategies that will help you deal with unhappy guests.
The guest is (almost) always right
As a hotelier, you know that guests are right most of the time. Of course, there are cases where losing a guest is acceptable – when they are aggressive, harass your staff, or cause damage.
Most of the time, however, adopting the customer-centric mindset that the guest is right allows you to put yourself in their shoes. Then, you'll intuitively know the right way to calm them down.
Validate and reassure an angry guest
For an angry guest, nothing is more soothing than having a calm person on the other side validate their point of view while assuring them that they're trying to fix the problem. It's hard to stay angry when someone's acknowledging you and trying to help. To learn more, discover how to build resilient teams.
Offer reasonable compensation when necessary
Always try to offer reasonable compensation within the scope of the issue. For example, comping a night's stay is acceptable if a guest experienced toilet overflow, something went wrong with their reservation, or there were any mistakes from your side. In these cases, you'll save money in the long run by compensating for a night and keeping everyone happy.
Do not interrupt
Sometimes, guests will say something untrue or speak against one of your colleagues, and you'll want to interrupt them. It's better to take a deep breath and listen to their side of the story before drawing conclusions. After all, your goal is not to be right but to keep your guests happy.
Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes
Most of us are hesitant to admit we did something wrong. But taking ownership of your mistakes shows your angry guests you acknowledge them and that you'll do what it takes to solve the problem. It's much better than making excuses, which almost certainly leads to losing a customer.
Empower your staff
Front desk training is essential in teaching staff how to handle problems. There's no need to escalate the problem to a manager or supervisor if you empower them to make autonomous decisions. The more familiar they are with different situations, the more agile they'll be in solving everyday problems.
You can also implement sharing circles where your staff talks about a problem they faced and how they solved it. Learning by telling and sharing is a great way to build your team and encourage bonding. Empowered staff members are also less likely to look for another job.
Summarize the problem
Hearing your problem paraphrased assures you that the other person hears what you're saying. Practicing this with angry guests makes it easier to calm them down and avoid further conflict. Address them by name, show them you heard them and watch their anger defuse.
Effective conflict resolution goes beyond proving who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about being empathetic, listening attentively, apologizing, and finding a quick solution to the problem. You want to reassure guests, not lose them. Always respond to negative reviews – they can cause immense damage to your reputation when ignored.
Conflict resolution requires using common sense and putting yourself in the guest’s shoes. Just think how you would feel if you were on holiday when suddenly everything went wrong. Facing a situation with compassion and a problem-solving mindset will help you and your staff overcome any challenge and learn from it.
Eva has over a decade of international experience in marketing, communication, events and digital marketing. When she's not at work, she's probably surfing, dancing, or exploring the world.
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