It’s 11.45 pm. I knocked off work at least five years ago. If I had knocked off my mobile too, now I wouldn’t be driving 25 miles under a pouring rain to go and see what happened to the guests. When I called to get the rooms, they had even sounded really kind, I mean the people at the hotel. Of course, who wouldn’t be kind to someone who buys 35 rooms for four nights from you? But they must not be so nice now, of course, if seven people from the group called me one hour after checking in. one of them was speaking so fast I didn’t even understand what he was complaining about.
Maybe I’ll get there and find there were no chocolates on the pillows, or the paint on the walls does not match the guests’ chakras, or they don’t like the knickknacks. And what if the heating has broken up instead? If the windows are too old and it rains into the rooms? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But I must prepare for the worst. Yes, like having to move – sorry, “accommodate” – 50 people just a few minutes from midnight right in the midst of a storm. What’s the problem?
Here I am. There’s no staff. The porter has gone to bed and cannot be called. Crashing in the hall, seven guests are halfway between enraged and exhausted. As they see me, they start pouring on me cartloads of complaints, so much that I have to ask them to calm down, with the consequences one might expect.
«Listen, miss, I am not staying in this place one minute longer» – «It’s a shame, everything has been going wrong for two hours, please do something» – «Someone will be held to account for what we are going through» – «Listen, I’m here to solve the problem if you will be so kind as to explain what the problem is».
And so, after a quick round through the rooms, it appears that three single bedrooms are actually awful, but the other rooms are more than decent. I can’t certainly look for another hotel because there’s no bath towel in two double rooms! Actually, the carpet has seen better days but I think they are overreacting.
There’s no structural inconvenience, there are no Police seals on the doors, no mice in the corridor. The only thing I can do is try to put them to sleep. So I go looking for the cupboard and turn into a maid, armed with sheets and towels. I calm down the most recalcitrant guests, reassuring them it is just a temporary solution, just for the night, and the day after I would make myself heard with the Hotel Manager.
The guests are fine for now. But what about me, when will I ever go to sleep?
Guests quite frequently complain of some inconvenience, especially when they check in. However, these often are not actual “inconveniences” but rather something that the staff have neglected to do, or even a guest’s gut feeling. A long journey, a rather unhelpful reception when checking in at night, or the look of the place may result in the event planner having to step in quite often.
Preventing inconveniences at check-in can be quite complicated: the service cannot be instantly monitored unless there is a hostess or a hospitality desk. At any rate, when customers report an inconvenience to the organisation, the event planner must go and check the situation personally, see how serious the inconvenience is and work out how to solve it. Accommodating the guests in a second hotel, for example, will only happen in extreme circumstances: if there are no rooms available, if the structural or hygienic conditions of the place are unsafe, if the terms of the agreement have been breached.
Such controversies, where high penalties are at stake, often happen to be brought to court; in these circumstances, it is important to have the papers at hand to prove such inconveniences: always ask the guest to file a detailed written complaint.
If the inconvenience is not too serious, then the event planner can come to an agreement with the hotelier to meet the guests’ requirements, such as giving them complimentary toiletries or changing the linen more often. Any inconvenience when checking into a hotel will be remarkably reduced if you take your time pre-selecting the facilities: this will minimise any unpleasant surprise. In addition, for optimum pre-selection, it is very important that you take the customers’ feedback, asking them to fill in a follow-up form when they check out: it should be a routine practice in the management of any event that involves an overnight stay.