Happy guests are satisfied, but what happens when they’re not?

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By SHEETUL RAYEED

Guest satisfaction is critical to the success of your hotel business. Not only will a happy, satisfied guest usually return to your property, but they also will recommend your hotel to others. Unfortunately, not all guests leave happy. In these instances, a lawsuit may result from the actions or inactions the guest experienced leading to this dissatisfaction, whether real or perceived.

REASONS FOR LAWSUITS
In the hospitality sector, lawsuits can arise for a number of reasons, including, among others, slip-and-fall accidents, premises liability concerns, assault/security breaches on the property, issues surrounding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination, human trafficking allegations, theft, and/or health and safety concerns. These issues may present themselves in a variety of ways, from an angry guest letter to a summons from a local court.  One way to foster guest satisfaction is to quickly handle at the property level any legal issues that may arise in the course of your business if you are put on notice. When this doesn’t succeed in resolving the matter, a lawsuit may be the next step.

THE RIGHT LEGAL COUSEL IS CRUCIAL
Lawsuits are not uncommon in business ownership, but as hoteliers you should rely on the expertise of legal counsel in helping you navigate through any legal demand or lawsuit.  Failure to follow strict legal processes and timing may result in a waiver of your rights or even a judgment being entered against you.  Finding the right legal counsel is critical and can happen in several different ways.

First, maintaining adequate levels of insurance for all your needs and annually reviewing your business’s insurance needs can help you avoid unnecessary legal costs and possible financial losses. When a triggering event occurs on your property, be sure to submit the claim to your insurance agent/carrier as soon as possible. If an insurance carrier provides coverage and defense, they’ll appoint an attorney with expertise in the specific field to represent your interests and help you through each and every step of the legal process.

If you do not have insurance coverage for the claim, ask fellow hoteliers or attorneys you know for referrals. While the attorney who does your estate work or real estate closing may be an expert in his/her field, you’ll want to make sure the attorney you select is an expert in the area for which you are being sued.

RESOURCES FOR AAHOA MEMBERS
Additionally, while AAHOA cannot represent you or give you legal advice, we recognize that you might need an attorney referral or legal advice from time to time. AAHOA has a specialized network of attorneys available to you through our Allied Attorney Program. These attorneys are familiar with lawsuits commonly filed within the hospitality sector and want to help best protect your legal rights. We’re happy to connect you with our Allied Attorney network for any and all of your legal needs.

prevent & protect
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Use the following checklist to help you address guest satisfaction concerns:

  • Establish best practices for your business
  • Establish customer response best practices
  • Establish insurance and legal protocols

Proper legal counsel should be a core component of any solid business plan to ensure guest satisfaction. Please feel free to reach out to us at franchise@aahoa.com.

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