I don't want to state the obvious but the economic downturn of 2008 and the renewed fears from a double dip recession that have been highlighted lately leave hospitality managers with no choice but to focus on ways to attract and win customers in today's hyper-competitive environment.
As a matter of fact, with less money to spend and less trips to make, travel shoppers expect higher quality travel experiences and greater customer care. Travelers tend to develop a more sensitive approach to customer care these days; they will complain when they do not receive what they thought they should have received.
That's said, some hoteliers, in a post economic downturn world, tend to implement measures to drastically reduce operational costs - these include staff reducing, energy saving programs and so forth. Hoteliers have to make sure these measures implemented do not hinder the level of service being provided.
At this stage, I would like to suggest a ''tougher'' and more ''serious'' approach to complaints management where all hospitality players at every hierarchical level work together to harness a three-faces approach throughout the company:
Prevent, deal with and report complaints.
The old well-known saying ''prevention is better than cure'', is very useful in this context. In fact, hospitality managers must promise only what they can deliver to their customers. To do so, they need to review their advertising material for accuracy to make sure the ''promised service'' these materials convey is adequate with what the customer will receive, in addition to reviewing competitors' products and prices in order to understand what guests get for the same amount of money in other properties.
2 - Dealing with the complaint:
One golden rule in terms of handling customers' complaints is to adopt a ''listener'' approach. The agent responsible for dealing with the complaint have to respect the guest's opinion and do not disrupt or disagree without viewing the issue from the customer's perspective.
3 -Reportingthe complaint:
Reporting complaints is as much important as preventing them. Actually, a clear and simple process of reporting the issue has to be rigorously applied throughout the company. The aim is to try to identify the root cause of complaints rather than simply overcoming them as you go. This is could be done through a three steps procedure; collect, categorize, and analyze complaints.
In conclusion, I would like to point out the fact that gathering and recording complaints regularly will result in the compilation of a very handy data that could improve the performance of the organization if properly used.
About Taoufik Haraketi
Taoufik Haraketi is a room reservations manager and blogger heavily involved in Hotel rooms revenue management and hotel online marketing. He holds a BBA Hotel & International tourism management from the American University of London. He is currently employed as a reservation manager at Caribbean World Hotels and Resorts in Tunisia.