Nothing They Could Do

I told the front desk person that she was overcharging me, and she disagreed and said there was nothing she could do.

That is a snippet of an email received by a client’s Front Desk team this morning. It contains the four words a guest/customer cringes at hearing.

Nothing they could do

When a guest approaches or calls the Front Desk with a problem, there is only one thing they are after: a solution.

They are not there to listen to the agent complain about how there is nothing they can do, how they are restricted by management, or how they will get in trouble if they push forward with that decision. They want to voice their concerns and have them resolved. That’s it.

When I was a Front Office Manager, I encouraged my staff to charge of the situation and resolve issues to the best of their abilities without concern. If someone is reporting that they were quoted a lower rate, it is better to offer them the lower rate than to dispute it with the guest. Take note of the issue so the manager could look at it the next day. It is much better to investigate an issue at the Front Desk and come up with a solution to prevent future issues the next day, than to investigate the issue but then report back to the guest the next day to resolve their issue.

My rule of thumb is that if a decision effects a small percentage of the rooms for one night’s worth of revenues, make the change. That decision isn’t going to effect the bottom-line dramatically, and may in effect help by preventing the guest from spreading a negative review about the property.

This rule can be applied from the top down, as well. One of my former General Managers wanted to be informed of the decisions we were making, but if a problem was going to cost less than $5,000 to repair, he gave us the authority to resolve the issue (it was a multi-million dollar property, so the cut-off amount will likely scale up/down depending on the size of your property).

Putting this policy in place will relieve a lot of stress in the work place, and keep the guest calm. It will put out the fires before they grow into an unstoppable force. I wrote about this in my article for Rethink Hotels, How to Minimize Damage and Fight Fires with Reputation Management

In the case of the email above, not only did the guest send multiple emails to the hotel about the issue, but she then went on to leave a sour review on TripAdvisor right away before the management could respond. The damage has been done, and we are having a meeting with the Front Desk to make sure they never utter these words again, “nothing they could do.”