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How to say 'No' to your guests (without saying 'No')

Geplaatst op 07-10-2014.

'I want to climb up to the 86th level (top floor) of the Petronas Twin Towers’ – a request which is disallowed by the local authorities.No

‘I want a sea view room’ – says a guest while checking into a hotel which is located in a land locked, bustling city.

‘Don't you know who I am?’ – says a small time actor from ...wood!

A straight and simple answer to all the above questions would be the word ‘No’ – however it is an absolute taboo to say it, let alone suggest it. So how do we answer these at times, seemingly irrational requests which from a guests’ perspective are completely legitimate and warranted? Is there an equivalent of ‘Abracadabra’ that might come to our rescue in these frequently encountered situations?

I am afraid there isn’t one, however a couple of techniques when adopted, may prove to be successful in ensuring that we don’t let this forbidden word mar a guests overall impression and discourage our colleagues. Some of these techniques are :

1. Indulge in positive conversation

Irrespective of how adverse a situation is, be calm, composed and try to steer the conversation towards a more positive note. After a long haul flight and travelling with two young kids anyone would be flustered to know that their room isn’t ready upon arrival. However, if instead of reminding the guests of how long their journey has been and how exhausted they look, it would be more helpful to engage in more exciting conversation like what their plans are while they are visiting, talk about interesting events which are more family friendly, and captivate their interest, taking their mind away from their travel woes.

2. Offer an alternative

Much as we would like to say ‘YES’ to all our guests at all times, a few situations are beyond us and even though we are unable to say ‘YES’, we need to be able to offer suitable alternatives. If a sea view room isn't available in a bustling city, an alternate iconic or scenic view room, ( along with a GPS download of Google maps explaining that the sea is 80 or 800 kms away), will have the same positive impact on a guest and ensure they depart the front desk with a sense of satisfaction and maybe even delight.

3. Use suitable and subtle substitutes

Thanks to the English language, we have a plethora of words which can be used as substitutes for ‘No’, which are far more readily acceptable with a relatively less negative connotation. For example, try unable, unavailable, disallowed, or excluded. We need to get into the habit of using them more often to our advantage.

4. Be empathetic and sincere

If we are unable to fulfil a request, then we need to exude complete empathy and sincerity for our inability and as stated above, offer suitable alternatives. Genuine assistance, apology and empathy are always recognised and fondly remembered by guests and as has been scientifically proven, its not what you say, but how you say it that matters most.

5. Relationship building

Get to know the guest, build a rapport and relationship with them as that will ensure they remember all that was done for them instead of what wasn’t. Its the small acts which go a long way, something as easy as a courtesy call or a personalised welcome note with an amenity will leave an everlasting impression.

6. Coach and guide the team

The above need to be instilled in all our team members in a fun, entertaining yet effective manner to ensure consistent execution. It needs to come very naturally to them and some of the ways of ensuring that is by reiterating & briefing the team during daily lineups. Quiz colleagues based on given scenarios, rapid fire rounds, role plays, and assessments based on live guest interactions. Motivated, excited and engaging internal stakeholders (employees) will result in equally motivated, excited and engaged external customers (guests).

Hoteliers may be unable to completely eliminate the word ‘NO’ from our lexicons. However, with the few techniques mentioned above, we can turn challenging situations into opportunities and give our guests and teams a more seamless experience. 

source: ehotelier

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