Insights from APT's Hospitality & Travel Practice

Optimizing Guest Complaint Resolution to Maximize Satisfaction

October 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Haley Jackson in Uncategorized

Recently a colleague described his experience as a guest at a local hotel, where he often stays for business. Upon his arrival at the hotel, he found that he was given a room with a double bed, rather than the king bed he reserved. Unable to switch the room immediately, the hotel offered him free internet for his stay. At check-out, the hotel also offered him 1,000 loyalty points as compensation.

Like any business, hotels will never meet all expectations for 100% of their customers. However, hotels know the importance of resolving 100% of guest complaints, since this process is especially crucial to guest retention and overall satisfaction. Additionally, the increased influence of review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor gives individuals greater opportunity to share their experiences, thus amplifying the importance of satisfying each guest.

Given the potential implications of a negative guest experience, hotels should identify the optimal strategy for responding to guest complaints. The most effective strategy will likely vary significantly based on a hotel’s characteristics and market demographics. For instance, for a hotel that primarily serves business travelers, offering free internet may not be as effective, as such expenses are likely paid for by their company. Therefore, hotels should consider a segmented approach to handling complaints.

In-market testing enables hotels to experiment with different standard responses to guest complaints such as offering free ancillary services, future stay credits, or loyalty points. By comparing hotels that are employing a new resolution strategy to similar hotels that are not using the new strategy, this Test & Learn approach can measure the true incremental impact of different resolutions on metrics like guest satisfaction. Further, this methodology can identify the most impactful strategy by hotel, to ensure that employees are implementing the optimal action specific to their location.

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