The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – How Best to Compliment or Complain About Your Trip

A girl at the beach
People can be too quick to leave negative reviews and not quick enough to leave positive ones. Here’s our advice for doing it right.

Most people have incredible travel experiences where everything has been out of the top drawer – excellent service, on-time transport, amazing company, clean accommodations, everything running smoothly and complimentary slippers. So why don’t you reward it with a compliment or review? Likewise, it doesn’t always go according to plan and a negative encounter can really ruin your trip away, potentially making you feel unfairly bitter about a particular destination. “I’m never going back to Canada because my hotel didn’t use feather pillows!”

hostel

All the staff should be locked up and the key thrown away. In spite of what may or may not happen on your travels, there are nice ways to go about complimenting or complaining – which is mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Take a look the following sage advice to help keep everyone smiling.

Remember the Standard of Service You’ve Booked

The number one golden rule when it comes to complimenting or complaining is to remember what or where you’ve booked. Generally speaking – you get what you pay for. If you’re paying $4000 a night for a hotel suite and there’s a dead cat in the shower, then you’re well within your right to vent about cleanliness. But on the other hand, if you’re even thinking about writing a noise complaint when you’ve booked into a party hostel – you need to have a word with yourself.

Hostel

The number of times people forget this simple rule is astonishing – and establishments suffer because of it. You pay your money – you take your choice. Don’t be a jerk.

Talk to the Staff First

So, you’ve got an issue with a receptionist who appears to be rude or ignoring you. Perhaps they’re having a really busy morning? It could be they’re personally having a bad day? Maybe they’re stressed with the number of stupid questions they’re getting asked that guests could have answered on google? Unless they’re being openly hostile, only as a final straw should you be running to review sites to make a complaint. In this fast-paced, demanding, pressure-cooker sector, guests are often so desperate to lambast a service before they’ve taken the time to constructively improve it.

talking people

Be polite, courteous, and patient. Talk to the staff and let them know your problem – you’ll find that 99.9% of the time it can be resolved and they really want to help. Leaving a knee-jerk review is damning to a business and costs people their jobs.

Take it to the Mattresses – or the Manager

If you’re unlucky enough to experience staff unwilling to co-operate, take it up a notch and speak to management. Nobody should be happy about getting someone into trouble, but if you’re not getting results then go higher up the chain. Here’s an example – bedbugs. Most establishments worth their salt fight tooth and nail, round the clock to keep the nasty critters away, but nonetheless, they can and do happen. Should such an incident occur, the manager will most likely be swift to change your room, offer you a free stay and then put in the extra work to tackle the problem.

Talking with locals, the Maldives

Think twice then before leaving a review saying “the hostel was overrun with bedbugs.” If you received an apology, the situation was rectified and your stay was comfortable as a result – is there any need to leave a negative review? Remember – mud sticks and this is their livelihood. Which brings us nicely to –

Ask Yourself: What am I Getting out of This?

When leaving a negative review try and ensure it’s justified. What many travellers don’t realise is that one poor review for an establishment with typically excellent ratings can suddenly bring their score tumbling down – and this has serious consequences when potential guests decide where they want to stay.

complain letter

Once again, if you’ve had your grievance satisfied, is there really a need to continue further? What do you get out of that? Of course, by all means, leave a scathing review if your needs were consistently not met – but really, only if it’s merited, so use common sense. Realistically, hostels, hotels, airlines and such should also have the power to review guests!

If the Service is Good – Say Something!

Travel businesses stand or fall on the reviews they receive, but there always appears to be more reviewers eager to destroy rather than create. Perhaps people think the service was so good they don’t need to bother leaving a review, because everyone else will do it already. Actually, EVERY review counts. So, if you’ve had an amazing snorkel tour adventure, experienced great customer service in a hostel, or dined out with a meal to remember – drop them a review and give a little love back. Mention names too – if Bob the bar guy made outstanding cocktails all evening, give him a boost with a name drop. The hospitality industry thrives off it and so do the individuals that make it tick.

Take Reviews with a Pinch of Salt

When reading reviews yourself, look across the broad spectrum and glean what to expect from a service or attraction based on a cross-section – and not just one or two negative nancies. One bad review does not a bad service make, but it’s remarkable just how much a black mark sticks in people’s minds. Let’s say there’s a restaurant with one hundred amazing reviews and one poor review – which do you read first? The poor one, right?! First impressions last! Once again, use your common sense – if 100 people say the crème Brulee was to die for and one person says it was like eating month old yoghurt – we’ll be eating the crème Brulee!

complaining travel

Reviews are part and parcel of the hospitality industry, but we think people should be practising a little more courtesy and respect. There’s always one disgruntled guest with a bee in their bonnet, itching to brutally tear down an establishment with vicious prose on TripAdvisor. But there’s a nice way to go about things, and a little patience, a cool head and an empathetic ear can go far for all involved. And remember; if you’ve had a great experience, be sure to say so!

Tell us about your compliment or complaining experiences – either read or written. The more outrageous the better!

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