When guest complains, listen too to your staff!!

a manager, have you ever reviewed what the service obstacles of your rank and
file staff are?


I have been invited by the Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism
and Sports to train rank and file staff in 4 provinces in Thailand.  Two provinces out of the 4 are located in the
Southern part of Thailand.  Most of the
staff representing the southern hotels have a great number of foreign guests, the
other 2 hotels are at the eastern provinces and cater more for Asians.  The attendees have been from the 2 to 5 stars
resorts and unique boutique resorts. 
This time, the target plan has been for rank and file level employees from
housekeeping, and bell service sections, however, others at management level or
from other departments have been welcomed. 


training event, I faced some questions from participants which I like to share
here. Some questions are quite innocent and with common sense development and more
experience, they will excel soon. However, some questions and some situations show
the our staff does face hardship many times. Senior managers and/or owners need
to understand those issues and listen to their staff more.  


information and answers given to employees might be correct today, but may be not
tomorrow as the service and people industry are very sophisticated.  Common sense development at all level of hoteliers,
sound clear policy, good systematic operation and training must go hands in


of the questions:


  1. What can I do if the guest does
    not want to pay for mini-bar? Obviously, the guests cheat but they insist
    not to pay.  If I cannot collect
    from them, I have to pay to the hotel myself.  Many times I have to quarrel with guests
    which I don’t want but I have to.  This
    causes lots of frustration to everybody and when the guests say they are
    unhappy with the service, they never mention that it is from their


  1. I know that I have to serve lady
    first, however, if both guests are clearly gay, whom should I serve first?


  1. If the guest says to me that she hates
    sunshine, she looks at me and clearly she expects some kind of answer from
    me, how can I respond to this issue so as to reach her satisfaction?


  1. If I go up to the guest room for
    room service, but the guests are in their romantic moment, what can I do?
    Should I put the food there and leave, or should I say something.  I don’t wish to disturb their activity
    but I don’t know what to do, I am already in the room.


  1. How can I communicate in English –
    if I damage guest belongings, I feel very sorry and I wish to take full
    responsibility for it and even pay for it”  (Look, how responsible some staff are –   I
    often receive this question during the training)


  1. If the guest confirms that they have
    left valuable items in the room, but we really don’t have any proof for
    this, what can we do? My manager does not want to face with the guest and
    some senior managers are not in the hotel, what I should do? Moreover, I
    don’t speak good English. 


  1. If a couple quarrels badly when I
    enter the room for cleaning, what can I do? Should I say something at all?
    Or should I leave quietly, since they know I am in the room.  What is the best way to deal with this


  1. How can I say to guests in English
    that I want to verify that this room is truly belong to this guest if
    he/she enters the room when I do the cleaning and the door was open?  It is a policy that I have to ask for the
    key card to check with the door pat of the room.  Though, t is a policy, the guest always
    gets upset about it and complains that our service is bad.  Everyday I do the right thing according
    to what I am informed to do, but it seems I am never right for the guest.


  1. What can I do if I greet the guest
    nicely, but the guest does not even look at me or give a damn thing to my
    greeting?  Should I continue
    greeting them?


  1. What can I do if the guest does
    not speak English, how can I service them correctly because we don’t
    understand each other?


  1. What can I do if the guests use
    their feet to point at things when I service them? I hate it, can I tell
    the guest off?  (Remark: This is a
    very offensive gesture in Thailand)


  1. How can I say to the guest
    politely that it is not a policy that our staff should go outside the
    hotel to buy condoms for them? Every time I say this, the guest gets very upset.  The management / owner do not want to
    have condom on sales in the hotel as he thinks this reflects badly on the
    hotel image.  But we (the staff) are
    the ones who face the guests, not the management and owners, I wish the management/owner
    understands their actual target market better.  They built and operate a cheap, worn-out
    hotel and expect a good image without condom.  Is it a bit contradicting!


mentioned, many things can be solved by common sense and many of them can be
solved by hotel policy.  And, if you have
policy, you better make it as a system and train your staff to be able to
communicate such a policy clearly.


of my answer is short, but some are in length as we need to make it clear from
the foundation until the solution.  One
important thing, as most of them are at operational level and could not
communicate well in English, I can only suggest them that they must remember
this important single sentence and practice it 10 times a day:  “I am sorry, my English is not quite good enough;
I will call my manager for you right way”.  

should not
try to argue with guest in broken English, it just makes the situation worse. 


hope that senior managers who have read this will have a little more respect and
tolerance to their staff as they have to face many times more than just a simple
service as foreseen by managers and owners. 
Especially, when employees cannot react or answer always correctly to
something that seems to be very simple for the manager or owners.


Owners, please remember, it may not be that easy for the staff as they have
different language proficiency, authority and experiences.  Therefore, policy must be made, system must
be established and what cannot be lacking is SIMPLY a lot of “training”.


© Tevabanchachai N. (2009), Honorary Advisor
/ Director, Mai-BS (THAILAND) http://mai-bs.com

© Tevabanchachai N. (2009), Program Director at
Travel Industry Management Division and Acting General Manager at Salaya
Pavilion Hotel and Training Center at Mahidol University International College http://www.mahidol.ac.th

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