From the October 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Got a gripe about your hotel room? Take a number. J.D. Power and Associates estimates that the rate of guest complaints climbed 22 percent between 1998 and 2000. Meanwhile, room rates jumped 7.1 percent, according to research by PKF Consulting in Atlanta. Result: Frequent travelers are upset at dwindling service levels and rising prices.

How to get relief? Person-to-person contact is the most effective way to resolve a service issue. Whether it's noisy neighbors or a stopped-up sink, the first order of business should be to politely mention the problem to someone who can fix it, says Robert Mandelbaum, who conducted the PKF survey. "Someone who can fix it" is key: Skip the bellhop and desk employee and go straight to the general manager.

If the general manager can't or won't settle the problem, don't drop the matter. Complain to corporate headquarters in writing. Snail mail gets better results than e-mail (and don't forget to send a copy to the general manager).

The economy is on your side. The second quarter of this year was the worst for the lodging industry since 1991, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Hotels may bend over backward to get your return business.

If you're tempted to log on to the Internet with your complaint, go ahead-but don't expect great results. Airing your grievance on complaint sites such as eComplaints.com, Passengerrights.com and Planetfeedback.com may make you feel better, but many hotels won't take you seriously.


Christopher Elliott is a writer and commentator and the editor of www.elliott.org.

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