You care about your hotel guests. You want to give them the best experience possible.


Unfortunately, things can still go awry.

A dirty room. A dysfunctional TV. The clerk’s tone of voice. A curious look. You never know what might set off a customer.

Since you’ve found yourself on our blog, you know that we speak to both businesses and customers alike – and we do our best to be as frank as possible about every topic we tackle. It’s helpful to know the worst case scenarios and how to ameliorate them, so read on to find out more!

All touch points you have with customers are critical to your success. And for better or for worse, in the hospitality industry, you will be in contact with your customers a lot.

In dealing with customers, some questions are better left unasked – they will make you look unprofessional, incompetent, or aggressive. Here’s what you should never ask guests at check-in.

“Are You Willing To Move To Another (Smaller) Room?”

With the proliferation of OTAs, and the growth of online marketing strategies, it’s getting harder and harder for hotels to manage and track their room bookings. Booking requests are coming from every direction, and if you aren’t staying on top of them, you could end up double-booking guests or assigning them to the wrong room at the wrong time.

Per Mental Floss, it’s common practice for hotels to book their properties to 110% capacity in hopes that cancellations and no-shows will even things out. When a “low-priority” customer walks through the door, and the rooms are all filled, the guest is “walked” to the nearest comparable hotel.

And this all culminates at checkin, where a guest arrives expecting a certain standard of service, only to have their room downgraded on short notice. This could be inconvenient and problematic for a variety of reasons – the number of guests staying in the same room, the amount of luggage, smoking or non-smoking rooms, or if you’re a pet-friendly hotel, then pets.

Now, of the sins you can commit, this may not be the deadliest. But imagine being the guest who arrived at your hotel, only to discover that the room you had booked isn’t available. How would you feel? It would leave a bad taste in your mouth, wouldn’t it? And there’s also a chance you wouldn’t return to that hotel.

Again, booking mistakes can happen, but if you aren’t using the latest technology and best practices to oversee room inventory, it would be wise to audit your current system for bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

Other Front Desk Mistakes To Avoid

Sometimes it isn’t what you do so much as what you don’t do that leaves guests dissatisfied with their stay.

Here are some common front desk check-in mistakes to avoid:

  • Not acknowledging guests that are in line. Sometimes a smile or a head nod is enough to let them know that you aren’t ignoring them. This is particularly important when the line is backed up.
  • Not using the guest’s name. This is easy to do, and easy not to do. But unless their name is unpronounceable and you’re afraid to try (you can always ask), you should note their name on their reservation or credit card, and say it aloud to personalize service.
  • Lack of consistency. One clerk might process guest check-ins, checkouts, and queries perfectly, while another drops the ball. Service standards should be kept consistent across the board.

Correcting these problems may take some time, but they can make a big difference for you guests. Reinforce service standards, and if necessary, have management monitor clerks and provide feedback as they perform tasks.

Final Thoughts

Your front desk may not be the first touch point you have with your guests. But it is an important one, since this could be their first time coming to your hotel. This is where first impressions are truly made.

If you meet and even exceed expectations, your customers will remember you the next time they need a place to stay in your town. But if they are left feeling like they didn’t receive the best service possible, they have no reason to keep coming back to you.