Pet peeve: Hotel guests rank unfriendly staff as most frustrating part of stay

by | Mar 5, 2019 | News

New research finds that almost two-thirds of hotel guests who have complaints say unfriendly staff causes the most frustrations during their stay.

ALICE, a hotel operations platform that aims to foster better guest experiences, has published the results of research looking into various influences behind being satisfied with a hotel.

Among their main findings is that nearly two-thirds of hotel guests who have complaints say that unfriendly staff are the most frustrating facets of their stay.

This, of course, is pertinent information for any stakeholder in the hospitality business, which as its very name implies is predicated around being hospitable to guests.

The exact number who reported feeling this way about unfriendly staff in the ALICE study was 62 percent, a significant one by any definition. That’s not the only big reveal in the report, however.

The “Hotels at Face Value” report, commissioned by ALICE and conducted by third-party research firm YouGov, also revealed more information about the changing expectations of modern hotel guests.

Hotel guest priorities for 2019

According to the research, when booking hotels, nearly three in five (59 percent) guests who prioritize amenities care most about high ratings and reviews, while almost half (49 percent) prioritize friendly hotel staff.

These respondents called attention to the need for hoteliers to ensure staff are attentive and welcoming, delivering more favorable guest experiences to ultimately drive positive reviews.

During their stay, guests with frustrations expressed a demand for hotels to improve their operations and guest-facing technology. When discussing the most frustrating experiences about hotel stays:

  • Nearly two in five (38 percent) said the front desk took too long to complete requests
  • More than one-third (34 percent) reported outdated technology in rooms
  • Nearly one in three (31 percent) pointed to delays in service from hotel staff

Visual courtesy ALICE

Diversifying communication channels

When communicating needs to hotel staff, nearly a third (32 percent) of guests said they prefer to do so by walking up to the concierge, front desk or other staff member directly. However, this preference is not representative of all guests, as the research indicated hotels should provide a diversity of communication channels.

When it comes to how different generations prefer to make special requests, nearly one in every seven (15 percent) millennials (ages 18-34) want to text message with hotels, almost one in five (17 percent) of 35 to 54-year-olds want an email survey from the hotel before they arrive, and roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of those 55 and older prefer to call hotels directly.

“No hotel guest is the same, which is why, above all else, hoteliers must perfect the practice of personalization and deliver tailored experiences to every single guest. Knowing that a majority of guests pay the most attention to staff friendliness and attentiveness, hoteliers cannot afford to forget the art of hospitality,” said Alex Shashou, President and Co-Founder of ALICE.

“Hospitality is a feeling guests get, and personalization is how it is delivered. If hotels don’t want to be viewed as a commodity, then they need to stop treating their guests like one. The biggest brands in the world are looking across their entire customer journey to create experiences and hotels do the same. A guest is so much more than their reservation. Guests deserve to be treated like family. Once they are, meaningful relationships will not only forge, but flourish,” he added.

Let’s take a look at a few projects currently underway:

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