As customers, we all hear or experience things that we hate. Your guests also have things, phrases and words they hate. Here is a list of some of the most common.

Welcome to another edition of Hospitality Property School.

Today, I am going to look at “Things, Phrases and Words Guests Hate to Experience or Hear.


I have a question for you.

How do you feel when you have a problem with the internet, your phone, the bank etc. and you finally get through to talk to a representative.


You tell your story and the customer service rep responds, “I’m sorry, that’s not my department.” you’re transferred and you have to tell your story again.


This has happened too many if not all of us.


Since customer service has become a centre of attention for most hospitality properties (even though many still don’t get it right), “That’s not my department” is being heard less and less.


That said, there are still plenty of other things, phrases and words our guests hate to experience or hear.



Here’s 18 more:

Breaking a promise

If you tell a guest, someone will call you back in an hour and the promised phone call doesn’t happen.

To a business, this might not seem like a big deal, but to the guest, it sends a clear and direct message: they’re not important. This could erode trust and leave guests feeling angry and disappointed.

The trust you build when you keep your promises is priceless.



Telling a guest they are wrong.

Everybody hates to be told they’re wrong.



I wasn’t here when that happened. It’s not my fault.

Guests don’t care whose fault it is, they just want someone to help.



I’ll get the manager, but he’ll tell you the same thing.

Unless you are a mind reader, why don’t we wait and see?



We’re a little busy now

What, too busy to take care of your guest?



The person you need to talk to is not here. Check back later.

Guests hate to wait. Why isn’t there someone to cover for a person?



We can’t do that

I was always told, “Can’t means ‘won’t try.’” guests want to see you at least make an attempt to help them.



We won’t do that

Almost the same as can’t, but more emphatic. Still, make the attempt to find a solution.



Your call is very important to us. The wait time is 45 minutes

Apparently, the call is not really that important.



You’ll have to…

Guests hate being told, “you have to…” Find a way to make it easy on them.



Share a bad attitude

Being rude, abrupt, and brash is examples of how not to handle guests.




Does anyone like to be told no?



Show no empathy

For most of us, we don’t get angry when something goes wrong. We get angry when we feel like no one cares.



Be really hard to reach

Guests expect their queries to be dealt with quickly; and properties who don’t are risking the loss of customers and a tarnished reputation.



Treat people as a number, not a name.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re renting a $20 a night hostel or a $2000 a night suite as a guest we all want one thing: to feel valued. The minute someone feels like a number rather than an individual, you’ve lost them.




I’m sure things have been crazy. You’ve been busy and you’re short staffed.

Here’s the thing; your guests don’t care.

The harsh reality is your guests don’t want to hear about your problems, they want you to solve theirs.



No answers

No one likes hearing, “I don’t know.”



That’s not my job

Perhaps not. But it is your job to help solve your guest’s problems and keep them satisfied.

So if a guest is directing questions at you that are out of your realm of expertise, instead of deflecting, offer to direct them to the right place.



In Conclusion

This list is by no means complete. There are plenty of other things, words and phrases people say that upset guests, cause them to lose confidence in your ability, and may cause them to leave and never come back.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer to determine the best way to respond as they arise and add them to your operations manual.

A customer-friendly response will comply with a modified Golden Rule:

“Say unto guests as you would have customer service professionals say unto you”


If you have any stories about “Things, Phrases and Words Guests Hate to Experience or Hear and would like to share or have any questions or feedback you can leave them in the comments section of the show notes. 



You can find them at:


That’s it for this session of hospitality property school.

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So, as always, let’s work together to put heads in your beds.

Until next time, have a fun day.





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Music Credit:

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