Why it’s best to speak up about minor guestroom issues
Why it’s best to speak up about minor guestroom issues
16 SEPTEMBER 2016 7:35 AM

I tend to let the little things go when staying at a hotel, but that doesn’t do the hotel or the next guest any good.

Just a few weeks ago, Hotel News Now ran a column by my news editor, Sean McCracken, about how some simple amenities in guests’ bathrooms can make a stay more memorable. Little extras like body wash and shampoo dispensers certainly can make guests feel more welcomed or at home, so it’s a great idea to offer these.

My approach here is similar, but unfortunately, it heads in the opposite direction. I’ve stayed in a number of hotel rooms over the years—more so now that I report on the industry—and I don’t have a major complaint about any of them. I’ve always stayed in a place that was clean, nothing was stolen and all of the staff members were friendly and professional.

But the small issue I’ve encountered during about half of those stays is the outlets or USB ports built into the furniture don’t always work. It’s been the outlet built into the desk that I would have used to charge my laptop, or the one built into the nightstand by the bed where I would have charged my phone overnight.

It’s a simple convenience hoteliers have offered guests, designed to make it more convenient than having to crawl around behind a desk or search the baseboards to find an outlet to power any number of the devices guests bring with them when they travel. However, by providing this furniture with outlets and ports built into them without them actually functioning seems worse than not having them at all. In a way, it almost makes having to search for a working outlet appear to be more of a chore, because the more convenient option doesn’t work.

And do you know what I do about it when I encounter an outlet that doesn’t work? Nothing. It’s honestly not that big of a deal. The rest of the room meets my needs, so I don’t make a fuss. I don’t ask for someone to try to fix it or replace it or ask the front desk move me to another room. There are other outlets in the room that work, so I’ll find one.

I realize now, however, that might cause a problem for staff at those hotels, because I encountered a problem and didn’t tell them, so they don’t know to fix it. The next guest who stays in the same room I did will encounter the same problem. That guest might take the same approach I did, figuring it’s not really that big a problem, or they might let the front desk know. Or, they could leave a review online somewhere to complain about it without giving the staff a chance to correct it during their stay.

I’m sure there are numerous little things here and there that go wrong during guests’ stays at hotels that they don’t say anything about. It could be an outlet issue, a light bulb that’s out, dead batteries in the TV remote or something else that’s relatively small. Most people don’t complain because it’s something of so little consequence, especially if it’s only a one-night stay. If they were at home, they’d fix it quickly themselves, but at a hotel, they have to rely on someone else to do something incredibly simple for them—well, maybe fixing a broken outlet isn’t so simple, but you get what I mean.

My guess is guests like me just don’t want to be a bother. We don’t want to be the ones to make someone come out and take care of this for us because we see it as a minor imperfection.

While well-intentioned, that approach gives the staff at hotels little to work with. It’s hospitality. They want to fix what’s wrong so guests can have the best stay possible, and they can’t do that if they’re not working with all of the information available.

So, that’s both my little gripe and mea culpa all rolled into one. Have any of you done something similar? Have any of you found out something small has been broken or a problem for days or weeks because no one wanted to bother you about it? Let me know. You can reach me at bwroten@hotelnewsnow.com or at @HNN_Bryan.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact and editor with any questions or concerns.

1 Comment

  • Anonymous September 16, 2016 10:46 AM Reply

    It is the hotel's responsibility to maintain these things, not the guest's. You're right that some guests are kind enough to go out of their way to inform the hotel of issues in the room, and that is great. But the current setup simply makes it too much of a burden for most guests. Even guests that are confident enough to speak up will likely only mention the one or two most frustrating things about their stay, not every small issue they encountered.

    The obligation should be on hotel companies to make it far easier to report these small issues immediately whenever the guest encounters them. For example, including a notification system in the hotel company phone app would allow guests to send in notes on what needs to be fixed directly to hotel staff. This would make it far easier on the guest and give the hotel far more information on what to improve.

    The technological capability now exists. Hotels should be using it to remove obstacles to guest communication. The burden is on the hotel, not the guest.

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