Just as your head hits the pillow for the sleep you have been craving since your 5 a.m. flight, a group in the room next door starts watching the big game. Every time the home team scores, the high fives and cheers divert you farther and farther away from dreamland. While it's easy to go full drama after a few deafening touchdowns, try to resist the urge to storm down to the lobby in your jammies to demand the presidential suite. The calmer more thought out steps outlined here will help you resolve your hotel room problems more effectively and efficiently without ever crossing the threshold of your room.
Pick up the Phone
Hotel professionals strongly recommend picking up the phone as your first step when a problem arises. Not only does it save you the hassle of coming downstairs and waiting at the desk, it also lets the hotel do the majority of the work by bringing your new room keys to you and transporting your bags to your new digs. (For safety purposes always ask the desk for the name of the people coming to your room and check their hotel IDs before letting them in.)
To Move or Not to Move
If it prevents you from getting a good night's sleep then ask for a room change. Plumbing problems, electrical issues, and noise tend to be the big three and if upon check in your encounter any of them pick up the phone right away. "The premise of a hotel is to give a good night's sleep to everyone," tells Pablo Molinari, director of rooms at the Park Hyatt Washington. "If something is preventing you from getting a good night's sleep then we are not adhering to our part of the contract."
A missed spot on the counter or a suitcase left under the bed can be fixed with a visit from housekeeping and is important feedback to give to a hotel, but does not necessarily warrant a room change or upgrade. However you always are within your rights as a guest to request a different room for any reason at all be it a better view, a different size bed or just not loving your room. Do keep in mind that the hotel might not always be able to accommodate these changes but many will try.
Your kindergarten teacher was right, you catch more flies with honey. A string of expletives or threats rarely make for a strategic opening move, might not get you want you want, and will most certainly ruin someone else's day. "Sometimes people think that really being upset is the way to get what they want," says Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Regional Vice President, Mid-Atlantic, Mark Jennings. "But I think it's true for any part of the service industry that when you are as nice as you can be then people will want to get you what you need."
So take a deep breath before you call. Think about what you want as the fix – a room cleaning, a room change, an upgrade, a partial or full refund – before you pick up the phone so you can ask for it after clearly explaining the problem. Then be polite but strong and keep in mind that the people on other side of the desk are just that, people. "Nobody comes to work hoping there's going to be a plumbing problem or thinking they want to put you in a room next to a noisy baby," Molinari shares. "Certain factors are beyond our control but we do try our very best to resolve all problem."
If at First…
Hopefully the call to the front desk will be the only action you need to take. If it's not, ask to speak to the director of rooms, Molinari's position and one that exists at most larger properties. Next in line are the manager on duty and the general manager.
Sometimes all you need is 140 characters to solve your hotel problem. Tweeting at a hotel likely will get you a response. Fast. "We have people who monitor posts 24/7," shares Kimpton's Jennings. "If something comes up we see it almost instantaneously." Kimpton is far from alone when it comes to its commitment to Twitter. You'll be hard pressed to find a reputable hotel group that doesn't interact with its feed in real time or close to it. So tweet it out, especially if you hit a roadblock.
Here are a dozen hotels that interact with customers on Twitter and are worth following:
@JDVHotels (Joie de Vivre Hotels)
Sometimes the best way to resolve an issue is to take as many steps as possible to avoid it in the first place. If you have specific requests – you want to be close to the elevator, far from the elevator, in the quietest room in the house, on a low floor, on a high floor, want a certain kind of bed, need an allergy friendly room… – add them to your reservation or, especially when booking through a third party site, email the hotel prior to your visit. Facebook posts also tend to work well for pre-planning requests especially for help planning a special occasion during the visit. And, of course, you can always go old school and pick up the phone.