Maneuvering Difficult Guest Interactions
Hcareers / JUNE 08 2021

Working in hospitality gives you the chance to interact and create relationships with guests and team members from all different walks of life! 

It also means sometimes interacting with guests after they’ve had a long day of traveling, or after they’ve had to deal with difficult or unexpected travel hiccups. It will happen to most if not all guest-facing roles to have a difficult interaction, but you can successfully maneuver it and create a repeat guest. 

Remember these two things when you encounter a difficult interaction:

  • Every interaction, both good or bad, is a chance for you to represent your company and the brand and also change a guest’s opinion about your company (for better or worse).
  •  Don’t take it personally. When a guest comes to the hotel, it’s likely after a long day of traveling and many of us have been frustrated while traveling. Their behavior or mood is likely a reflection of you or your interaction. 

Use these steps when interacting with a difficult guest to help diffuse the situation and turn their experience around.

1. Keep your cool

This may be difficult, but it is truly the most important and best approach. Just remind yourself that their attitude is not personal to you. Maintaining a calm demeanor towards them will help to calm the entire mood of the situation and the guest’s attitude and make it easier for everyone to come to a solution. 

2. Put your active listening skills to the test

Sometimes a guest is just taking out all of their anger from other situations that have nothing to do with you, on you. And although no one should do that, if you are able to listen attentively to them, you will get to the bottom of the issue faster. 

Sometimes a guest’s anger is just misplaced onto you

Or maybe they are angry about something that happened with you or your company. By listening to them, you can better understand what happened and how you can avoid it from happening in the future. Direct feedback can be difficult to hear but will only help in making you a better employee, and help the company improve their customer service. 

Make sure to be listening to truly understand what they are saying, and not just listening to prepare your response or defense. 

3. Ask them what will make the situation better

Be aware ahead of time what your company’s policy is for what you are and are not allowed to offer a guest in these situations, but ask the guest after they are done explaining “what can I do to make this better for you today?”

This will help veer the conversation away from anger and towards working on a solution. 

Depending on what they say will make the situation better, you may be authorized to do it yourself, or maybe you need to go get your manager. For example, maybe offering to make them a dinner reservation, or giving them extra membership points can help.

4. Apologize and empathize

Apologies can be your strongest tactic when dealing with a difficult situation. It may be difficult to do, especially if you are not at fault or it’s misplaced anger but it will make the interaction easier for yourself. 

Offering a sincere apology may even be the only solution you need. Acknowledging how the guest feels can go a long way, especially if an apology doesn’t seem to work to calm them down.