I was at a social event a few weeks ago and bumped into another couple who run a bed and breakfast establishment. After chatting for a while, they proceeded to tell me how irritated they were by many of their guests. I was very surprised. How can you run a small, personal enterprise like a farmhouse bed and breakfast and dislike your guests?
Many of our patrons have heard me say that we have not had ANY guests who we would not welcome back. I suppose we could be lucky. Perhaps luxury glamping selects for lovely people. My conversation with the irritated B&B owners did give me pause for thought, though. Here are my five recommendations for dealing with irritating guests.
1. Don’t be irritated
Being irritated really isn’t an option. Your guests aren’t there to make you feel warm and fuzzy, though it’s nice when that happens. They have paid for accommodation and service. You should not be irritated when they expect your accommodation and service to be of a high standard. If you feel they have been unreasonably rude, unappreciative or dismissive of your efforts to please them, give them a break. Perhaps something is going on that you don’t know about.
You have no idea what is motivating your guests’ behaviour, so don’t take it personally.
2. Don’t be irritating
Maybe your guests are a reflection of you. Take a hard look at yourself and your business and service. Have you made claims that you can’t live up to on your website? Did your guests know they would have to share a bathroom? Does the free Wi-Fi work reliably? Is your accommodation clean and set up as in the marketing pictures? Do you give your guests time to enjoy their breakfast in peace? Do you overstay your welcome around their campfire during the evening?
If you feel you have more than your fair share of irritating guests, make sure YOU aren’t the problem.
3. Listen to complaints
It is fantastic when guests tell you how wonderful the accommodation is and how much they are enjoying their stay. It is perhaps more useful when they tell you about the things that could be improved. If your guests have been moved to complain and take the time to explain the problem, maybe they have a point. Treat all complaints as suggestions for improvement.
Do guests the courtesy of listening and taking feedback graciously. They may feel as awkward as you do.
4. Act on Feedback
You should never be irritated by complaints about the same issue more than a couple of times. This is because you should act on feedback and fix the problem. Even good reviews may point out your flaws and if the same, easy to resolve, issue appears repeatedly it speaks volumes about your (lack of) desire to provide a good service. If you can’t fix it immediately or at all, make sure it is addressed up front on your promotional materials, website and when guests arrive.
Completely ignore feedback at your peril. Always assume your guests have a point.
5. Keep negative comments about guests to yourself
In the extremely unlikely event that you attract obnoxious guests who pick fault and complain for no good reason, make sure you keep your irritation to yourself. NOTHING good can come from voicing your annoyance to any other living soul. Assume that everything you say about your guests is going to be broadcast across the internet. You cannot undo words spoken in anger and they sound even worse when repeated by others on social media. Regardless of what actually happened, YOU come across as the bad guy.
Do not speak of your irritation with guests even if you feel your comments are justified. Good hosts don’t do this.