When planning the perfect stay for your guests, there are many variables—human error, tech glitches—that can lead to unexpected problems. Even the most respected hotel chain doesn’t always get it right—and that’s ok. To keep your customers happy, you’ll need to have a good plan in place to address common hotel booking mistakes.
Mishandled Reservations and Double Bookings
A nightmare scenario for any hotel manager, the double-booked room or mishandled reservation is a tough but sometimes unavoidable part of the job. A well-trained staff is more likely to prevent booking errors, but every now and then, one might slip through. So what do you do when a guest shows up and you don’t have a room available for them?
To proactively prevent these types of administrative errors, you’ll want to invest in a robust property management system (PMS). For instance, RoomKeyPMS gives you a powerful tool to manage bookings with ease. It’s easy-to-use interface helps staff cut down on entry errors. Or, if a last-minute change needs to be made, the system makes it easy to adjust — and also updates in real-time.
However, if the damage is already done, here is how you can gracefully manage a missing reservation.
After you or a staff member has sincerely apologized, immediately find a room for your guest. If you only have large suites remaining and they were looking for a small single, give them the suite at no extra charge. Try not to offer them a room with less space, unless absolutely necessary. In that case, provide a generous rate reduction. This is a brand-building moment—don’t worry about a few dollars.
If your hotel is full, offer to book a room in a sister hotel (if in the same city) or nearby accommodations. Arrange transportation to bring them there, and provide a discounted room at your hotel for the next night. To avoid repeating this problem, you can use a property management system that allows employees to track bookings in a much more accurate and efficient manner.
Incorrect Guest Preferences
You’ve incorrectly assigned a guest to a non-smoking room when they asked for smoking. Or you’ve booked a highly allergic guest on a pet-friendly floor. Incorrect data can put a great amount of stress on both your customer and your front desk agent or manager.
To handle these mistakes, all managers and staff should be well-trained in conflict resolution and customer communication. No matter the complaint, a hotel staff member should always listen, apologize and thank the guest for sharing feedback. Your hotel should have clear policies on who has the authority to resolve which complaints (e.g. can all front desk staff grant refunds and discounts or must they escalate the complaint to a senior manager?). You should also establish guidelines for all major common complaint situations so that every member of your staff understands what to do in case they encounter a problem.
If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of greeting a guest who thought they had a reservation but had inadvertently been victim to a scam on an illegitimate booking site, you know how unsettling this can be.
As a regular habit, monitor news and industry sites for word of these scams. Where appropriate, alert staff and customers if these illegal sites have targeted your region. For a guest who may have had their personal details exposed, contact the authorities and offer to book them a room if you have space available. If you don’t, follow the steps above for a double booking. Treat this guest with compassion and be as helpful as you can.
When visitors arrive and what they expected doesn’t match what you’re offering, try to accommodate them as best you can. Be calm, courteous and creative. By preparing ahead of time for any misunderstandings, you’ll be able to resolve customer complaints in a neat and satisfactory manner.
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