Most complaints have their sources in genuine misunderstandings, no hotel is actively trying to ruin their guests' stay, but while some common complaints are more than valid, theres always another side to the story. Believe it or not, there are reasons for hotels doing some of the things they regularly do that drive some of their guests to irritation. Heres a list of some of the most common complaints made against hotels, and some reasons as to why hotels behave the way they do.
Okay, so youve booked your room on hotels.com, packed your bags, made the trip, and now that you've arrived at the hotel it turns out they had no idea you were coming. This one can have many reasons behind it.
Firstly, how long ago did you booked your room? Keep in mind that when you book a room on a website like hotels.com, or Expedia, in many smaller hotels the booking is not instantly entered in the hotel's database. What actually happens is a three step process where the website sends the information to the hotel in the form of an e-mail or a fax, which is then manually entered into the system by one of the Check-In staff, then a confirmation is sent from the hotel to the website. Its surprising how many people don't realise this. I once had a guest book a room on Travelocity as he was walking in our front door, and he was quite surprised that his booking wasnt instantly recorded by the time he made it to the Check-In desk.
There is also the possibility of human error. Sometimes things get entered into the system wrong, or the hotel gets overbooked. While no hotel will ever willingly admit that they've made this most heinous of mistakes, it does happen. However, most hotels have a partnership with another, similar hotel nearby that they can move unlucky guests over to, in case the unthinkable should happen.
Many hotels will charge a fee if you cancel your stay at the last minute. While larger hotels might be able to absorb the loss, it makes good sense for small hotels to adhere to some sort of cancellation policy. In fact, we have a 24 hour cancellation policy here at Nuvo. In our defence, we only have 32 rooms and if someone cancels the day of their booking theres a pretty good chance that we won't be filling that room. Since it actually represents a fair chunk of change for us, we have a cancellation policy in place to help us break even on last minute cancellations. However, if theres a good reason for the cancellation (like a family emergency, flight cancellation due to a volcano, car breakdowns, or ninjas), we'll likely waive any fees.
Housekeeping Ignoring the "Do Not Disturb" Sign:
This is one of the more unacceptable mistakes a hotel can make, in my opinion. Once you've put down your money for the stay, the room is yours, and you should be able to get a little bit of privacy. Not to mention that random people walking into your room while you're sleeping is horribly invasive.
There are reasons why the housekeepers do it, though. Housekeeping staff usually work in shifts, and since they typically have lives outside of work, are not available to clean rooms 24/7. They really only have a limited amount of time to do all the cleaning for the day, and every occupied room has to be cleaned. Its also very common for guests to leave the room without taking down the sign on the door, so if its past a certain time of the day, its normal for housekeepers to peek their heads into a room to check and see if anyone's actually home. Also, in a situation where it's the last day of the booking where a guest hasn't checked out on time, or informed the hotel that they will need a late check-out, with another guest trying to check in to the same room... Well, in that case housekeeping, after getting approval from management, may very well enter a room, more to try and figure out whats going on than to clean it, though.
Additional Room Charges:
I personally hate this one when I travel. You check into your room and eat a granola bar from a bowl on the counter, only to find out two weeks later that you were charged $4.00 for it. That kind of upselling is sneaky and, dare I say it, dishonest. There are also hotels that will charge extra for services that you have no way of opting out of. Thats just the hotel managements way of making as much money per booking as possible, sometimes to the detriment of their guests.
There are some cases in which having additional charges attached to a booking can be argued as being reasonable. For example, here at Nuvo there is an extra daily fee should you require the use of a parking stall. We do this because we don't own the stalls ourselves, we rent them from our neighbours. Woking the cost of keeping those stalls into the rack rates for the hotel and forcing every guest to pay for them, whether they need a stall or not, seemed wrong. So, we worked out a rate that allows us to keep the stalls for our use without having to charge everyone who walks through our doors
Charging Extra for Internet:
I have no argument for this one. Any hotel that is still charging its guests for WiFi needs to re-evaluate its pricing. These days, a simple high-speed internet set-up costs very little to maintain, and theres really no excuse for not offering it to paying guests free. If Coffee Shops can do it for free, why cant $400 per night hotels? Thats right Starwood Hotels, Im looking at you.
Jonathan Meier is the Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Nuvo Hotel Suites, a small boutique hotel specializing in extended stays in downtown Calgary, Alberta. When he's not at the Hotel dealing with the daily dose of craziness he's usually out in the mountains near his hometown of Canmore where he can be seen climbing, skiing, or doing anything at all that doesn't involve computers.