From Frustration to Delight: Handling Guest Complaints

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In the hospitality industry, guest satisfaction is paramount. Familiarising your staff with the most common guest complaints and taking proactive steps to address potential concerns before they arise is essential for maintaining a positive reputation and ensuring repeat business. 

By mastering the art of handling guest complaints, proprietors can not only resolve issues but also turn them into advantages that drive overall success.

What Are Common Guest Complaints in Hotels and Short-Term Rentals?

What Are Common Guest Complaints in Hotels and Short-Term Rentals- Zeevou
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#1 Problem: Cleanliness and Maintenance Issues

Guests are sensitive to dust, dirt, or grime in their rooms and bathrooms. They may discover that bed linens and towels are stained, worn out, or not replaced. Unpleasant smells from previous guests, poor ventilation, or mildew can linger in rooms.

Guest complaints can arise from issues with plumbing, or vermin. These include problems with showers and taps, such as inadequate water flow or temperature fluctuations, and the presence of insects or rodents in the property.


  • Implement strict cleaning protocols with detailed inspections before each guest check-in. 
  • Employ a cleaning crew to ensure all linens and towels are freshly laundered and replaced regularly. 
  • Use high-quality, durable materials. 
  • Regularly air out rooms; use air fresheners or purifiers.
  • Frequently inspect plumbing systems and repair any issues promptly. 
  • Implement a proactive pest control solution.
  • Conduct regular maintenance checks and have a system to quickly fix reported problems. 
  • Ask cleaners to report any issue and damage immediately.

#2 Problem: Noise Problems

Guests often complain about noise from nearby rooms, such as loud conversations, TVs, or other disturbances. Noisy HVAC systems can also cause significant discomfort.

External noises, like traffic, construction, or other loud activities, can disturb guests if windows and walls aren’t well-insulated.


  • Implement soundproofing measures such as thicker walls, soundproofing materials, and noise-cancelling features. 
  • Install double-glazed windows and heavy curtains to reduce external noise. 
  • Provide white noise machines or earplugs to help mask disturbances. 
  • Establish quiet hours and enforce them strictly. 

#3 Problem: Wi-Fi Connectivity

Guests often complain about slow internet speeds, which make browsing, streaming, or working online difficult. They may also experience frequent disconnections and unstable connections. 

Complicated login procedures and security concerns with open networks add to their frustration. Additionally, some Wi-Fi networks limit the number of devices that can connect at once, causing problems for guests with multiple devices.

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  • Upgrade to higher bandwidth internet plans.
  • Ensure that your network infrastructure supports fast and reliable connections. 
  • Use Wi-Fi extenders to improve coverage in weak spots.  
  • Regularly monitor and maintain the Wi-Fi network to identify and fix issues promptly.
  • Simplify the connection process with clear instructions and a user-friendly login system. 
  • Configure the network to allow multiple devices per guest.
  • Implement secure network protocols such as WPA3 encryption to protect user data. 

#4 Problem: Temperature Control

One of the usual guest complaints is about discomfort when room temperatures are either too high or too low. They may also find it challenging to operate the room’s heating or cooling controls. 


  • Ensure HVAC systems are functioning correctly.
  • Provide clear instructions for guests on how to adjust the thermostat. 
  • Make sure that controls are user-friendly and clearly labelled.

#5 Problem: Lack of Amenities

Guests often expect basic toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion. Complaints arise when these items are missing, in short supply, or of poor quality. For short-term rentals, guests may find the kitchen understocked or lacking essential items like pots, pans, and basic spices.

Guests may find a limited selection of TV channels, a lack of streaming services, or no recreational options like books.


  • Ensure that high-quality toiletries are consistently stocked in each room. 
  • Consider providing additional items like toothbrushes and toothpaste for added convenience. 
  • Equip the kitchen with a comprehensive set of high-quality cookware, utensils, and basic pantry items. 
  • Regularly check and replace worn-out items.
  • Offer a variety of TV channels and provide access to popular streaming services
  • Include recreational options like board games, books, or gaming consoles.

#6 Problem: Unfriendly Staff

Staff members who appear indifferent, unapproachable, or lack a friendly demeanour can cause numerous guest complaints. Miscommunication or lack of clear communication from staff can frustrate guests, especially when it comes to important details like check-in/check-out procedures. Guests may feel ignored or neglected if staff are slow to respond to requests or complaints.

Handling guest complaints- Zeevou
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  • Train your staff in customer service skills. 
  • Encourage them to greet guests with a smile and offer assistance proactively. 
  • Ensure staff are well-informed about property policies and can communicate them clearly. 
  • Provide regular training on effective communication techniques. 
  • Implement a system for tracking and prioritising guest requests to ensure timely responses. 
  • Use automated messages or AI tools to quickly respond to guest enquiries.

#7 Problem: Hidden Fees

Guests often report surprise charges that were not clearly communicated at the time of booking. This can include resort fees, parking fees, or service charges.


  • Clearly disclose all potential fees during the booking process. 
  • Ensure that all charges are transparently listed on booking confirmations
  • Provide a complete breakdown of all costs at the time of issuing booking invoices. 
  • Outline your optional services and take payment upfront for a smooth and transparent experience.

#8 Problem: Check-In and Check-Out Issues

Long wait times during check-in or check-out will lead to an increase in guest complaints. Prolonged waiting can make guests feel undervalued and impatient, especially after a long journey or when they are in a hurry to leave. They may arrive at the designated check-in time only to find that their room is not ready yet .

Guests may find the check-in or check-out instructions unclear or may not be adequately informed about property policies, such as check-out times, late check-out fees, or key return procedures.

Handling Check-In and Check-Out Issues- Zeevou
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  • Utilise technology for online pre-registration and self check-in options to reduce waiting times.
  • Ensure adequate staffing levels during peak check-in and check-out times.
  • Optimise and automate housekeeping schedules to ensure rooms are consistently prepared and available for check-in on time. 
  • Clearly communicate check-in and check-out instructions via email.
  • Ensure all staff members are well-trained and knowledgeable about procedures, policies, and local attractions to assist guests effectively.

#9 Problem: Security Concerns

Guests often feel uneasy if there are no visible security measures, such as security cameras, guards, or controlled access points. Dimly lit hallways, parking lots, and pathways can make guests feel unsafe, particularly at night. Guests may feel insecure if there is no clear information on emergency procedures, such as fire exits, evacuation plans, or emergency contacts.


  • Install visible security cameras in common areas.
  • Ensure that access points such as entrances and elevators are controlled.
  • Use motion-sensor lights in hallways to enhance security and visibility.
  • Provide clear information on emergency procedures in each room and common areas. 
  • Ensure staff are trained and can assist guests during emergencies.

How to Handle In-Person Guest Complaints Effectively

Considering all the areas that may cause issues, you still may face some unexpected problems. Handling guest complaints effectively is crucial for maintaining high levels of guest satisfaction and loyalty. 

How to Handle In-Person Guest Complaints Effectively- Zeevou
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1. Listen Actively

Make sure to give the guest your full attention without interruptions. Show empathy and understanding. Use phrases like, “I understand how frustrating that must be for you.”

2. Acknowledge the Complaint

Understand the guest’s feelings and the issue they are raising. Say, “I apologise for the inconvenience you’ve experienced.” Thank the guest for bringing the issue to your attention. This shows that you value their feedback.

3. Gather Information

Ask relevant questions to understand the specifics of the complaint. Use open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me more about what happened?” Document the details of the complaint accurately.

4. Apologise Sincerely

Offer a sincere apology, regardless of who is at fault. A simple, “I’m sorry this happened,” can go a long way.

5. Find a Solution

Offer potential solutions or ask the guest what they would consider a fair resolution. Resolve the issue as quickly as possible to minimise the guest’s inconvenience.

6. Follow Up

Follow up with the guest to ensure that the solution was satisfactory and the issue has been fully resolved. If the issue was significant, consider reaching out later with a follow-up email or call to show continued concern for their satisfaction.

7. Record the Complaint

Keep a detailed record of the complaint and how it was resolved. This can help identify patterns and prevent future issues.

8. Train Staff

Regularly train staff on how to handle complaints effectively. Use role-playing scenarios to help staff practice and improve their complaint-handling skills.

Handling Written Guest Complaints

Handling Written Guest Complaints- Zeevou
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Addressing written guest reviews and feedback, whether on paper or online, follows the same principles as handling in-person complaints. The key distinction is that responders have the opportunity to thoughtfully consider and carefully formulate their replies.

When handling guest complaints and written reviews, consider:

  • Responding with respect and genuine concern.
  • Recognising the guest’s issues and accepting responsibility.
  • Proposing a solution and expressing a commitment to improvement.
  • Requesting an opportunity to deliver a better experience in the future.
  • Maintaining a professional and consistent tone across all platforms.

Successful property managers can transform a guest complaint or negative experience into a positive opportunity. Experts also understand that consistently responding to online feedback is a powerful strategy to leverage guest reviews for more bookings, as it can enhance your property’s search result ranking.

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