How to deal with blacklisted guests

By Mark Ellis

- Last updated on GMT

How to deal with blacklisted guests
Mark Ellis of online booking specialists Welcome Systems gives his top tips for hospitality businesses trying to deal with unwelcome guests. 

Hotels, restaurants and pubs have long adopted a blacklisting strategy where misbehaving guests are prevented from booking with them by having their card marked in their customer database. 

‘The guest is always right’ is a motto that usually stands the test of time. That is until someone detaches the 60” LCD TV from the wall of your premium suite and throws it into the car park. 

When should you blacklist a guest?

Not every guest is perfect. Some are downright rude, while others resort to criminal damage or, admittedly on rarer occasions, physical violence. 

This is a largely subjective area and comes down to just how much you are willing to tolerate inappropriate behaviour. However, there are several scenarios where the ultimate hospitality red card should be shown: 

No pay, no play

If a guest leaves without paying then clearly a phone call is required to ensure there wasn’t a legitimate reason for their sudden disappearance. If there was, payment can be requested and should promptly follow. Otherwise, if Mr Smith has bolted without paying and can no longer be contacted, he is clearly not to be trusted. 

Causing significant damage

As that expensive TV shatters into a thousand shards of glass that will inevitably injure an innocent passer-by, one thing should be on your mind – ‘this guest must never stay in our accommodation, eat in our restaurant, or drink at our pub ever again.’ 

Verbal or physical abuse

If a staff member is verbally or physically assaulted then clearly, you’ll need to call the police, but it goes without saying that such a guest must never darken your door again. 

Unreasonable requests

If a guest makes a series of endless, lofty requests that you simply can’t fulfill then clearly you are not up to scratch in their book. Similarly, if they take up excessive staff time with demands for gold toothbrushes or unlimited bowls of Skittles then you are much better off without them. 

How front line staff can manage blacklisted guests

One thing you cannot do is prevent blacklisted guests from contacting you again in the future. They may do this by phone, email or online. 

Providing you have an effective accommodation or restaurant booking system with a blacklist capability then staff should be quickly aware of their presence. 

When such instances occur, your team needs to feel equipped, empowered and ready to deal with the offender. Understandably, they may be a little nervous about doing so. 

To help settle with these concerns, here is a step-by-step process for handling blacklisted guests for front line staff. Assuming they have decided to call: 

  • Listen to their request as you would do any other guest - don’t interject with the bad news immediately or resort to name calling.
  • Politely explain that you are unable to accept a reservation from them due to a previous incident.
  • They may ask ‘which incident?’ Explain that you simply can’t go into detail, and that the decision has been made by the management.
  • If they continue to push for a reservation, calmly reiterate that you simply don’t have the ability to do so.
  • Suggest they seek alternative option (avoid referencing the competition – it’s a cheap shot and won’t win you any friends).
  • If they simply won’t give in, tell them you’ll pass their contact details onto the manager.
  • If they become abusive, say “I’m sorry, I cannot continue this conversation if you’re going to be verbally abusive.” Unless they placate, simply hang up – you are absolutely entitled to do so. 

Every hospitality business has to deal with a blacklisted guest at some stage. It’s an unpleasant issue, but can be made all the more simple and less damaging if you follow the rules and guidelines above. 

The good news is that few blacklisted guests will try to re-book more than once.

This was written by Mark Ellis of Welcome Systems​. 

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