How to Improve a Stay in a Bad Hotel

As a former hotelier, I can offer advice that can help you deal with the hotels staff and general hotel policies. Often before you realize you have issues, it is time for a shower or climb into bed. Take some time after you get access to your room and follow these steps to insure a pleasurable stay. If you have issues call the front desk as soon as you possibly can.

  1. Trust but verify…. check cleanliness as soon as you get in your room as it is the number one hotel complaint. If you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your room then I suggest pulling the sheets back from the bed for a quick inspection. Bed bugs have recently become problematic in hotels and you really do not want to take home that souvenir.
  2. Try to be as nice as possible. Human nature is an element everyone must deal with regardless of your complaint. The staff is less likely to “hear” you if you are screaming at them. Be prepared with a list of issues you have with your room and give the hotel a chance to fix them.
  3. If the situation cannot be fixed then ask to be moved to another room of comparable value. Should the hotel not have your room type available ask for a complimentary upgrade.
  4. You should be reasonable of your requests of staff, but also in your expectations. They obviously can’t control city sounds or nature (gotta love the roosters in Key West – they get you up bright and early). If it is another guest causing the noise, call the front desk and ask them to intercede so you can enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Try to rectify the things the hotel can control, and remember that many of the annoyances can be caused by elements beyond the hotel’s control (like fluctuating water pressure, minimally hot water or other such issues). You are more likely to have these issues when you book at older hotels; keep this in mind when booking your reservations.
  5. Should the front line staff not be able to satisfy you ask to speak to the manager since they usually can help with upgrades and changes that the front line staff cannot do.  Just make sure you’ve been polite and reasonable to everyone you’ve talked to before then — if you’ve already been labeled as “the crazy guest who’s screaming in the lobby,” it might be harder to make your case.
  6. If the manager is not being cooperative with your problems then it is time to pull out the big guns. If the hotel is part of a chain call the 800# and ask to speak to someone in guest relations. Another card you can play with the manager is to let them know you are documenting your experience and will be posting a review on your experience at the hotel on tripadvisor.com and if you booked on a site like Expedia they now typically offer an option to review the hotel. The last thing that manager wants is a bad review that can cost them future bookings. One more thing, it is a good idea to check out reviews for the hotel you are booking before you book your reservation.

My final piece of advice is to be proactive. The worst thing you can do is wait to complain until you are checking out or after you get home. Wishing you happy travels and hopefully this advice will come in handy on a vacation in the future.

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