Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Secrets to a Better Hotel Stay

by Wendy Perrin | May 21, 2014

When TripAdvisor published its list of the ten hotels in the world with the best service, and I noticed that most of them are reasonably priced, I wrote How to Get Five-Star Service Without Paying Five-Star Prices and asked my friends on Facebook (frequent travelers, of course) this question: How do you get better service at hotels? When a problem crops up, how do you get it fixed, pronto?  I thought I’d share their strategies, as well as my own:

* “Tip the bellboy who delivers your bags to your room generously, and the rest of the hotel staff will hear about it in no time at all. That first tip with a big smile is the key.”  — Joe Yudin, WOW List Trusted Travel Expert for Israel

* “Make sure you speak to a person who can resolve the issue, and that varies from property to property.” — Sandy Ferguson,WOW List Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia

* “Call the front desk, or the executive concierge (if you are on an executive floor), and explain the problem in a calm, respectful way. If that does not generate prompt attention, ask to speak with the hotel duty manager.” — Toby Saltzman, travelterrific

* “First rule: You get more bees with sugar than with vinegar. Keep your cool. Second rule: Be prepared to state what will make you happy. Know what you want in any negotiation.” — Charles Wolfe, Hurley Travel Experts


And here are my own tried-and-true tips:

* Book through a travel agent or destination specialist who has a close relationship with the hotel and sends it a lot of business. A travel agent who is tight with the hotel’s general manager and sits on the hotel company’s travel agent advisory board, for example, gets priority treatment (and extra perks) for his/her guests.  Should a problem arise, the hotel’s manager will likely rush to rectify it (for fear that the hotel could lose the travel firm’s business); if the problem doesn’t get rectified, the travel agent can intervene on your behalf.  (If you’re in need of the right travel specialist for a trip you have in mind and you’d like a recommendation, you may ask me here.

* Get a name to email. Look up the hotel on TripAdvisor, note the name of the manager or other employee who is replying to the negative reviews, grab his or her email address off TripAdvisor or from the front desk, and send him or her an email. Say that you’re at the hotel and are apprising him of your complaint so that he has a chance to rectify it before you get home and write your review.

* Take to Twitter.  Tweeting directly to the hotel—like this—can be the fastest way to get a problem solved, as hotels want to nip consumer complaints in the bud before bad publicity goes viral. Particularly helpful are @HyattConcierge, @Marriott, @SheratonHotels, @WaldorfAstoria, and @WHotels.

* Post photos to Instagram.  Some hotels—Four Seasons properties, for instance—monitor geo-tagged Instagram posts. If they note a guest is unhappy, they’ll take action to resolve the problem.

Rosewood Mayakoba resort butler

When you have a butler (like this one at Rosewood Mayakoba), it’s easy to get problems fixed. But what about when you don’t?

What are your strategies for getting better hotel service? Please share them below.

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  1. Maxine B

    I travel with $20.00 gift cards from Sephora and give them as thank yous if someone is really lovely.
    Wow does that go along way, especially if I am a return guest.

  2. Scott Peterson

    Remembering even a few staff names can work wonders, and that includes the person checking you in upon arrival. If like me you are not great remembering names, write them down and check your list when you need to.

  3. G.Browne

    Great tips; but the text is hard to read (at least on my screen) because of the grey color so I didn’t read through everything; black always works.

  4. judynagy

    When you have an issue with a hotel, always be prepared with a concise description of what you want as a solution. Sometimes your issue can’t be solved, so figure out what you want them to do to keep you happy. Do not expect a hotel staffer to come up with a solution, you need to tell them. The more cordial you are, the better resolution you will have. I can’t remember the last time a hotel did not solve my problem in a gracious way.

  5. George B (The Gentleman Backpacker)

    Hi Wendy,
    I still think the best approach is to be friendly from the start. That could mean tipping where necessary, but it could also be just taking a couple of minutes to learn the names of the staff, a little bit about them and/or their families. If you remember them, they will remember you. I see far too many grumpy guests treating hotel staff like servants, and voila, they tend to be the ones who have problems during their stay.

    The friendly guests who have a smile on their face and know some of the staff by name get taken care of (nicer tables on the terrace at breakfast, nice and prompt poolside service, or even favorable slots to a coveted dive spot that only allows a limited number of divers per day).

    If a smile and friendliness don’t get your issues fixed, then you can move on to other suggestions, such as hinting at a potential weak review on Trip Advisor.

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