Patrick is an experienced hospitality specialist who has worked in hotel management, revenue analysis, front office, and education management. He has worked extensively in positions dealing with customers directly, thus having plenty of background and knowledge on the matter to share with his students. In this blog, he discusses respect in the workplace, and how to deal with people in unpleasant situations in a way that is professional and responsible, a skill necessary for all hospitality positions.
At times, I have experienced disrespectful treatment of hospitality industry staff by hotel and restaurant guests, especially towards the line staff. They may create a fuss when check-in/out is not fast enough, room delivery is not quick enough, food not prepared to satisfaction or something is not fixed on time.
At various supermarkets, we all wait patiently in line to get to the counter or cashier. Customers who wait in the line for almost 20 minutes or more before they get to the cashier usually do not complain about waiting so long in line, yet at a hotel at the front desk, the impatient guest will often ask for a rebate, refund, or comp night.
I sometimes feel there should be a sign posted that says “This is my office, please respect it”, or maybe something like “Anyone who physically or verbally attacks or abuses any of our employees will face criminal charges,” just like in some buses, airports, banks, stores, government offices.
Luckily, any great management team will take a no-nonsense approach towards guests who behave in such a manner, and put the welfare of the staff member(s) at the forefront by embracing the Ritz-Carlton motto, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
I always remind my students that no matter what kind of hotel/motel they find themselves in, regardless of the institution’s rating or ranking, they will occasionally come across a grumpy, rude or just generally unpleasant customer while on duty, and the most important thing will be how they react. Keep in mind that 8 out of 10 times, the guest will come back to apologize for their bad behaviour, but it will depend on how cool, calm and collected, responsible, respectful and professional the associate was when he or she dealt with the guest during the initial interaction.
Patrick Akuagwu, Hospitality Instructor, Surrey Campus