A few weeks ago I stayed at the Hyatt Coral Gables hotel in Florida. We had arrived very late (after midnight) due to a 3 hour delay by American Airlines and we were beat. After a quick check in at the front desk, we were looking forward to getting a good nights rest and kicking off our trip to Curacao the next day.
To my chagrin we were awoken at 8:30 in the morning by loud pounding and smashing noises outside our room. I was so tired that I popped in some earplugs and tried to go back to sleep. The noise continued throughout the morning and I finally capitulated and peered outside the window to see what was going on. The hotel had hired a staff to power wash one of the walls near our room. Needless to say this was the last thing I needed on the first day of my vacation.
Who You Should Not Complain To
Before I tell you who to complain to, I will start by telling you who not to complain to. When it comes to hotel complaints I have found that it is never a good idea to write a letter or email to their customer service department. They will no do a damn thing. I have written multiple letters regarding bad service, rude employees, broken fixtures, etc. and all I ever receive is a letter stating that they contacted the general manager of the hotel (who often caused the problem in the first place due to incompetence or ignorance). How do you expect a lazy or incompetent general manager to do rectify the problem? This goes back to what I said in the first place, namely you should not write a letter because the corporate office, and more so these hotel loyalty programs are not in the business of policing the hotels/general managers. They only care about marketing, and that’s their place in the world. We must accept that.
Who You Should Complain To
Now that we had that out of the way, you should always try to speak with the general manager when you complain at a hotel. Usually you can simply go to the front desk and voice your concern. The general manager is often hiding in a room behind the front desk where all the business affairs are usually taking place. When you complain, make sure that you clearly state your case and explain why you are unsatisfied. In my case, I was unhappy about the noise level of the power washers outside and I thought doing this type of work at 8:30 am was totally unacceptable since guests may still be sleeping, and in fact it was a holiday so people might be sleeping in on vacation. I also explained that we had arrived late last night and we were trying to catch up on our sleep while the noise continued for several hours. I finally pointed out that we wanted to use the pool, but the noise was so loud that it was out of the question.
Fortunately the front desk manager (not the general manager) was on duty and was summoned to address my concerns. She at first offered to simply tell the workers to stop and come back later. I responded that that only solved 10% of the issue and the damage had already been done for the last 2-3 hours. She then had the front desk agent look up my reservation (here it pays to have status with the hotel…we had Hyatt Platinum Status), and she said “sir, I see you are staying on a points reward.” I responded that indeed it was a points stay, she then offered to comp our stay by putting the points back into my account. Bingo! Getting a free stay was much, much more than I had expected as a result of my complaint. Hotel management will usually give you something smaller like free breakfast, free drinks in the hotel bar, or maybe a discount on your stay. A free night was totally unexpected and a very generous way to address my complaint. This in part illustrates the great part about Hyatt and how they value their customers and deliver good service at their hotels.
Steps for Hotel Complaints
If you are ever in a similar circumstance follow these steps to complain to the hotel:
– Write down your complaint and why you are upset (this will help you get your thoughts in order and help you make your case). Also, this will help you not forget key details if there are many aspects of the issue that will support your complaint.
Finally, make sure you have an idea of what you want the hotel to do about your complaint.
– Go to the front desk and ask to see the general manager. If the general manager is not around, ask for the front desk manager or simply ask the general manager to call you when they return.
– State your complaint to the general manager. Make sure you touch on how your stay was impacted by the issue.
– Evaluate what the hotel offers as compensation for your complaint. If it is acceptable thank the general manager and tell them you will stay with his/her hotel on your next trip due to satisfactory resolution of the issue. If you are still not happy ask to speak with either corporate or the hotel owner.
Almost 100% of the time the general manager will address your complaint and resolve the issue. They are in the business of running a hotel and the last thing they want is an upset customer who will take out their frustrations on the staff, but more so will not spend money at the hotel because they are upset. Hotels make a lot of money from people who enjoy their vacation at the hotel and spend money on food and drinks, so keeping guests happy should be a primary concern for the general manager.
Never stand for bad service, broken fixtures, or incidents at a hotel. You are paying a high hotel rate for great hospitality! That’s what you deserve! If service is not up to your expectations, especially at a luxury hotel, then it’s your responsibility to speak up. Make sure you follow these steps to complain to the hotel and get fairly compensated for the issue.