How to Properly Complain to a Hotel

I recently did a series on how to complain to an airline, which received a lot of interest, so I wanted to also discuss the proper ways to complain to a hotel, should you have an issue there.

With hotels, there are two main ways of complaining:

  • With the hotel itself – where you can speak with front desk staff, a manager, etc.
  • With the hotel’s corporate office – where you can speak with social media, or customer service

I’ve found both options to offer solutions, though I think each will vary depending on what issue you’re having. In general, I find your best way of presenting an issue is with the hotel itself, since, unlike with an airline, you can speak with the folks that have direct control over your issue right then and there at check-in.

Hotels, in general, and if you’re staying in a chain, do have power to fix issues – whether it’s refunding you money, upgrading you, awarding points as compensation, etc.

Bring the issue forward in real time – When something happens, say something, and say it quick. I find it better to say something at the hotel itself, rather than waiting, checking-out and then saying something to corporate customer service.

Offer a solution – If something is wrong with your room, offer to move. Ask for a different room if you need to, but don’t be pushy. Often times, you’ll get upgraded if there’s truly something wrong, and you’ll find that happen more if you don’t ask for it.

Take pictures – I find it helpful in hotel complaints to take pictures as proof, not because others won’t believe you, but because it’s a chance to document your concerns, that you otherwise don’t have a chance to do when flying. I had a major issue at the Concourse Hotel at LAX, and took pictures of the uncleanliness in the room. This helped when I went to the front desk and asked for a different room. After showing them the hair in the sink, reality quickly set in and I was moved.

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Your status will help you. Don’t mention it. – I find it more likely you’ll receive resolution to your complaint without mentioning your status, than when mentioning it. In fact, more often than not, the hotel knows that you’re a Diamond, Platinum, etc., and they’re going to do everything in their power to take care of the problem. If you feel the necessity to mention it, do it only once.

Elevate – When you approach the front desk and don’t receive an appropriate response from the agent, don’t panic. Often these folks may be inexperienced or not trained on what to do for your specific case. Kindly ask for a manager or supervisor (often known as the duty manager), and elevate your complain to them.

What tips do you have to complain to a hotel?

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