Being a hotelier can be both rewarding and exhausting. Tending to guest needs and ensuring an exceptional experience at your hotel for everyone who walks through the doors of your lobby is a busy job — a job that is regularly made all the busier when problems inevitably arise. Hotel problems can present themselves in many forms. Whether it’s a guest complaint, a busted thermostat, paperwork problem, long line in the lobby, or cold showers, there’s almost always problems that need to be solved at a hotel.
However, when problems rear their ugly heads, it doesn’t always have to be a giant distraction. Conceiving a plan of action for how to deal with various hotel problems and figuring out effective solutions ahead of time will allow hoteliers to roll with the punches and solve issues quickly.
Each hotel, depending on its location, facilities and customer types, will have a somewhat distinct set of problems they can expect to receive. Regardless, there are some common problems consistent across hotels, no matter their differences.
The most common problems hotel staff members may encounter in the course of running a property include:
Lack of complimentary supplies
Long lines at the front desk
Slow room turnover
Lack of guest information from OTAs
Low guest satisfaction scores
Credit card authorization forms that aren’t PCI compliant
Low hotel app adoption
High call volumes at the front desk
Let’s now take a brief look at each of these problems in detail and review a corresponding solution.
Lack of Complimentary Supplies
Problem: Although it may not appear to be the most critical thing to consider, many guests will anticipate complimentary amenities such as shampoo, soaps, coffee and tea, despite the type of property at which they are staying (e.g., full service, limited service, luxury, etc.). Unfortunately, a lack of these types of basic room commodities can result in low guest satisfaction scores and negative online reviews — even if the rest of their stay is fantastic.
Solution: To keep your visitors as pleased as possible, hoteliers would be wise to stash large quantities of complimentary room supplies in closets and cleaning stations around their property. This ensures that housekeeping teams are able to easily access a reliable storehouse of these supplies quickly, no matter where they are on the property.
And if your property belongs to a larger hotel group or management company, be sure to see if there are promotional deals available with certain brands that provide these types of products.
Long Lines at the Front Desk
Problem: Nobody likes long lines, and this is especially true when a person is waiting on something they don’t just want, but need — like a comfortable room with a bed in it. Long lines at a hotel’s front desk can be a real problem for desk agents as they can cause guests to become frustrated and argumentative.
Solution: Front desk staff at any hotel can improve their overall efficiency, streamline the guest experience and eliminate long lines in the lobby by offering a Contactless Check-In solution to guests before they ever set foot on the property. Contactless Check-In enables guests to go through the check-in process conveniently on their own mobile devices. This tool frees up front desk staff to spend more time fielding questions from guests and less time dealing with administrative paperwork.
Slow Room Turnover
Problem: The ability to turnover rooms quickly is one of the essential keys to success in the hospitality industry. If a property is short staffed, or just generally having issues running a housekeeping department efficiently, this can result in negative consequences for both guest satisfaction scores and a hotel’s revenue.
Solution: Hoteliers need to do everything they can to ensure their housekeeping teams are able to turnover rooms quickly. This can include ensuring things like all housekeeping stations across a property are well stocked with cleaning supplies and accounting for other logistical challenges. However, technology also has a role to play in boosting housekeeping efficiency.
Contactless Checkout solutions enable guests to checkout at their own convenience from their mobile devices. These types of tools are highly valued by guests because they make a hotel visit all the more streamlined and peaceful. However, they also have the added benefit of informing hotel staff as to which rooms are ready to be turned at the precise moment a guest leaves. Essentially, this provides a housekeeping team with a real-time map that shows where staff members need to be on the property.
Lack of Guest Information From OTAs
Problem: OTAs can be very useful in generating reservations at a property, but they are not without their downsides. In addition to the problems inherent in the concept of rate parity, OTAs usually don’t provide a hotel with crucial guest information such as their email address. This lack of information can keep properties from building their own database of marketing contacts that could be used to promote loyalty programs and direct sales campaigns.
Solution: The key to solving this problem is to somehow add the registration of an email address to the check-in process. This information can be collected in person at the front desk, but this approach has the disadvantage of potentially provoking an uncomfortable question about why the hotel is requesting an email. Additionally this will slow down the overall check-in process and may lead to longer wait times for guests looking to collect their room keys.
Instead, forward-looking hoteliers should search out technology solutions that enable a Contactless Check-In flow that can be customized to capture this crucial customer data.
Low Guest Satisfaction Scores
Problem: Bad reviews happen. It’s unfortunate, but it’s so. They can occur for nearly infinite reasons and they are the bane of every hotel manager’s existence.
Solution: When one- or two-star reviews occur it’s generally best to find out why as soon as possible. Including a star-rating step in a Contactless Checkout flow that can be accessed through a guest’s mobile device allows hoteliers to identify dissatisfied guests early and potentially resolve any issues before they depart the property.
Problem: For a variety of reasons, a hotel may need to close services and amenities. The reasons why can range from the sun has gone down and the masseuses have gone home to a maintenance with a hot tub or sudden thunderstorm over a lakeside resort. Understandably, when amenities are closed, but guests are expecting them, this can leave patrons feeling less than pleased. After all, a property’s particular amenities may be one of the reasons guests wish to stay at the location in the first place.
Solution: To minimize surprises, hotel management should do its best to ensure guests are made aware of the operating hours of guest services. It’s wise to include this information during the check-in process and make it available in each hotel room in the forms of brochures, pamphlets, etc.
If a hotel’s management team is forced to close amenities and guest services unexpectedly, it’s best to be proactive with your communication. Using a guest messaging tool that allows you to broadcast text message guests at scale with the relevant information enables you to ensure guests know before they find out on their own. Better to get ahead of this problem while the engineering team works on it.
Credit Card Authorization Forms That Aren’t PCI Compliant & Lead to Fraud
Problem: Many hotels are still using paper credit card authorization forms despite the fact that it is no longer considered PCI compliant to do so. Obviously, collecting sensitive guest information in such an insecure way is a significant problem for many hotels and can lead to thousands of dollars in lost revenue from fraud and chargebacks.
Solution: Hoteliers that wish to reduce fraud and chargebacks at their properties should look for PCI compliant Digital Authorizations solutions that are guest-friendly and easy to implement. It’s time to say goodbye to paper forms forever.
Problem: Staffing shortages have been a problem for hotels since there have been hotels. For most hotels, staff shortages can be due to regional issues in the job market. However, as demonstrated by, and in the wake of, the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes the worldwide hospitality industry suffers a staffing shortage at the same time.
Solution: The solution to a staffing shortage is twofold. The first step is to build a recruiting program for staff at your hotel. Look at surrounding properties and find out if they offer bonuses and try to match them. Also, it never hurts to let candidates know that advancement opportunities are available.
The second step in solving a staffing issue, is to lean on guest-facing technology solutions that can automate messages to guests and enable them to operate more independently during their stay.
Low Hotel App Adoption
Problem: Many hotels have adopted new technologies in recent years to address changing consumer behaviors (thanks to COVID), which is good news. However, many of these hotels have bet big on developing a native app for their properties, and that’s less good. Native apps have a relatively high barrier to entry as they need to be downloaded onto a person’s smartphone. For a variety of reasons, hotel guests generally fail to adopt native apps at scale.
Solution: Hotels should opt for web-based technologies that can be accessed through the browser of a mobile device. This avoids the need for downloads entirely and allows for a more streamlined experience. Plus, hotels will find much higher adoption rates than they otherwise would with a native app.
High Call Volume at Front Desk
Problem: High call volumes can be both good and bad at a hotel. A large call volume generally means (hopefully) that a hotel is full of guests, which is great. However, too many calls to the front desk can overload staff and leave guests waiting for answers. This is a problem that almost every hotel will have to deal with at one point or another.
Solution: Offering a messaging solution to hotel visitors that works with the existing messaging apps on their mobile devices can go a long way toward cutting call down call volumes. Hoteliers that plan to add a messaging solution to their guest experience should look for tools that enable them to save valuable time through automated, broadcast and direct messages.
As stated at the beginning of this post, running a hotel is an incredibly busy job that requires hoteliers to plan ahead for problems. Knowing what levers to pull on and solutions to deploy beforehand can keep everyday issues from turning into minor catastrophes. As outlined above, the two most useful things for any hotelier in a time of need are reliable technology tools and thought-out plans of action. With these in hand, a savvy hotel staff will be able to ride out any problems they may encounter.
The Future of Hospitality: 10 Top Industry Trends for 2024
Looking at the trends in the hotel industry, the hospitality sector’s overall outlook this year is promising. Challenges persist, of course. Stay ahead and succeed by understanding these emerging trends for 2024.