Unfortunately, you will not find an answer to this question in my post. Recently, I`ve come across a few articles which actually upset me. Very catchy titles they had, so it was hard not be tempted by “how to get a hotel upgrade for free”, “how I got upgraded for nothing”, “how I won free meal at a restaurant”, “how I got free spa treatment” etc. All of course were followed by an avalanche of immense gratitude for such nailing pieces of advice. Even more upsetting was that people who wrote them were actually from the industry. As a hotelier I even thought ironically “oh, I may even learn something”.
Who writes those articles?
People can write whatever they want and, obviously, nobody can change it . As a hotelier, when you read those articles you have plenty of situations from your experience coming to your mind. Do you recognise those guests? Yes you do. We can divide them into 2 types: polite and impolite. The polite ones are the type who are kind and ask for something in a very pleasant way – it is easier to communicate with them and they are more understanding. The impolite ones are quite distinctive from the very first minute you interact with them. They simply demand and their typical say is “if you don`t, I will check out/call GM/post a bad review on xxx”. Sadly to say, as mentioned above, plenty of them are former or present hoteliers. If so, then why do you shoot your own foot? The rest who write such articles are simply people who enjoy a little bit of fuss.
Is it really that great? Are the tips really that good? When you come accross them – please let me know how innovative and powerful they are.
How does it affect the front of the house team?
Well, those who worked in front of the house remember the feelings that accompanied the situation of forcing the free upgrade/service. You can name them: discomfort, tension, dissatisfaction and sometimes even stress. In many hotels colleagues are not empowered to simply upgrade people – they are expected to “deal with it”. Anyway, once you give – you will be giving all the time, if you don`t give – here we go – a big affair. It results in unnecessary frustration, warm smile is gone and serving the next guest with natural benevolence is possible only for the veterans.
How to arm staff against those situations?
First of all, stay right with them and be the source of confidence that what they do is right. Prepare them in advance. Those free upgrade hunters usually use the same scenarios repeatedly. Do the role-plays according to the scenarios. Train & coach, train and coach. Work on body language, tone of voice, selection of verbiage and logical arguments. Practise. 90% of the staff’s failure is caused by lack of confidence – leaders should help them build it. If necessary – you – the Manager walk in and support.
My personal appeal:
Dear current/ex hoteliers, please remember how it is/was behind the desk, face to face with a guest. Do not spread this manner of constant demand of free services/upgrades. It is a goodwill of the hotel, a courtesy not a standard – as, I trust, you remember. Specially, most of the time the line colleague has nothing to do with give-outs. Please, stay reasonable and do not teach other people, your blog followers this type of behaviour. You never know how much worse your followers could behave if your tip from an article doesn`t work. We, masters of professionalism don`t write how to get free clothes from shops, or how to get a free taxi ride or gratis consultancy service. Do not deprive the hotel staff of delighting their guests.