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How to Complain when Traveling - And Get Results

Ranting - the right way - can get you what you want

When you travel, things go wrong about as often as they go right. While the circumstance may be beyond your control, your reaction to flubs can change the outcome. Satisfaction is a direct result of confidence and persistence.

Go right to the top

Hotel LivingLate for a business luncheon and unpacking my wrinkled suit, I discovered the lack of iron in my room at a high-end hotel in Toronto. What little patience I had left dissipated when the front desk explained it would be a while before she could "get someone up there."

Instead of venting to the front desk, I called the company's toll-free service number. Might sound over the top but I got results - fast. Not only did I get my iron almost instantaneously, my parking charges disappeared in compensation for my frustration.

Ask for more

On a recent business trip to the Westin La Cantera Resort, my co-worker left his jacket at the bar and was told to pick it up at the front desk the next morning. Trouble was, the bartender shoved it in a corner and forgot about it. The next morning we were stranded - car keys in the pocket - and the searching sucked in everyone from security guards to cleaning staff.

We could have ranted and raved but instead I calmly explained our dissatisfaction required more than a simple apology. We were offered free breakfast - not a huge thrill when you're at conference and it's free anyway. After a see-saw of offers, we accepted a complimentary dinner at the hotel's 4-star restaurant.

Act like an insurance agent

A picture is worth a thousand words when you're dissatisfied or frustrated. When it comes down to a "he said, she said" debate a picture has the power to change minds. If you've ever been to Yelp or Trip Advisor you understand the clout an online review yields.

If the company tells you they don't consult online review sites, they're either bluffing you or stupid because their potential customers do.

I believe the best measure of any business is how they handle mess-ups. I'm happy to give the benefit of the doubt at the outset but I don't leave my satisfaction to chance.

How do you get satisfaction when you travel? Share your ideas with us in the comments below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter!

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What a great addition to this article - thanks so much for offering your insights! I agree that the degree of inconvenience (and your reaction to it) shoud be what your compenstated for - not a wholesale freebie. And striking that balance is as difficult for both sides of the equation. I think the most important thing to remember is to stick to the facts and you'll be compensated fairly.

With many MANY years in hospitality management there are a few things that work in the mid-level hotel and restaurant industry. <br /><br /> Be polite. It is human nature to make mistakes. Understand that these mistakes, on the staff's part or otherwise were not intentional and should not be taken personally. Explain your problem to management and offer your idea of a solution/compensation. This gives the management a clear idea of how upset you are, and how they can make you happy. More often than not, your idea of compensation is more inexpensive or accessible than you might have assumed. <br /><br /> At a restaurant, remember that the quality of food is NOT a reflection of the waitstaff!! If your meal was not satisfactory, ask your waiter for management (before they bring you the check), compliment the waiter's service, and explain what you did not like about the food. You will most likely get a portion or all of your meal discounted, free drinks, or another compensation. The feedback to management helps them better direct the kitchen staff, while your compliments about the waiter help solidify the waiter's job. Make sure you still tip the waitstaff as well since they did provide the service and are most likely only working for 1/2 minimum wage + tips. <br /><br /> Most of all... be realistic. The lack of an iron in your hotel room does not justify a free night, and complaining about the quality of a steak has no merit if you ate the whole thing.

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