Guests come in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s important to understand what type of guest you’re dealing with in order to ensure you are giving them tight best service according to their needs.

Classifying the different types of guests

There are different ways of classifying hotel guests based on:

  • The purpose of their visit
  • Origin
  • Size of the group
  • Age group


Depending on the purpose of their visit, they could be classified as:

Tourists:  The most common type of guests are tourists. According to the National Travel and Tourism office, more than seventy five million tourists visited the U.S. in 2016. Travel and tourism is a major contributor to the GDP with a total contribution of more than one trillion dollars in 2015. Not only is tourism important for local and national economies around the world, it is also a major contributor towards the global economy. According to Statista, tourism contributed over seven trillion dollars in 2016 to the global economy.About 60% of people travel for leisure that can include sightseeing, recreation, visiting or other non-business activities. Leisure travelers that included both international and domestic travelers spent $660 billion in 2014 in the U.S.  The travelers are price sensitive, focused on getting the best hotel experience and expect to be made to feel at home.  Tourists can include a group of friends, families or group tours where the package includes tours and accommodation and one or all of the meals at times.  The recent trend also highlights the popularity of travelling solo.

Business travelers:  About 40% of guests are business travelers, according to a report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). While tourists usually travel in groups or with families, business travelers often travel alone. These are not as price sensitive as tourists and may be willing to pay more for the convenience and location of the hotel. The business traveler is also concerned about how well the hotel handles messages, conferences or meetings. Internet speed, computers, free Wi-Fi are some of the features that the business traveler is looking for.

Delegates and conventioneers: Attending seminars, trade fairs, conferences, delegates and conventioneers can be in groups or could include a solo traveler.

Health tourist: The recent focus on health and relaxation has led to the advent of the health tourist looking to rejuvenate with yoga, spa, meditation or other natural and holistic healing methods. According to a HVS report, 17 million travelers in 2014 were focused on 'health and wellbeing', and 40% of these were regular travelers. The “wellness tourists” are willing to spend 130% more than the average traveler according to an estimate.

Size matters!

Depending on the size of the group, they could be classified into:

Families: Families could be looking for a short break with a weekend getaway or could be in for a long and relaxed summer vacation. More often than not, the families include kids of all age groups and child friendly facilities are what they are looking for.

The solo traveler:  The solo traveler can be a business traveler or an adventure tourist. He or she could also be a VIP or an important international delegate.


Depending on their origin, guests can be classified as domestic or international travelers. The other way of classifying the guests could be on the basis of their age group. The Millenials are expected to account for 50% of travelers to the U.S. by 2025. This group is comfortable with technology and look for convenience in terms of keyless doors, internet of things, robot room service and much more. The elderly of course need facilities that cater to their special requirements.

Prevention is better than cure!

No matter what the origin, purpose or size, guests expect to be treated as priorities and want to get the most out of their stay in the hotel. Anticipating the needs of each type of guest and making the necessary arrangements beforehand will minimize complaints to a large extent. As in everything preventing complaints is better than dealing with them!Some basic amenities that the hotel must provide obviously include a convenient check in and check out procedure, cleanliness, quick response to queries or complaints, pleasant dining experience and courtesy of the staff.Tourists expect the convenience of a hotel pick up for their day tours while wanting to taste the local cuisines. Business travelers expect quick and efficient service, good internet speed and Wi-Fi among others.

Dealing with difficult guests

It may not be possible to anticipate every need of different types of guests and some guests are more demanding and hard to please. Dealing with angry customers requires patience and loads of training! Experts recommend using the following strategies to handle difficult customers:

Listen to the customer: It is important to lend a patient ear while the customer is voicing the complaints. Interrupting or not paying attention can make the situation worse. Allow the customer to explain at length the nature of the problem. The idea is to focus on the problem and not the person. If possible, lead the guest away from the area where there are other guests within earshot. If the problem is genuine, contacting the relevant staff to address the issue immediately is the best way to deal with the situation.

Resolve the issue in their favor: There are some difficult to please guests who are not satisfied with any resolution. Statistics show that 70% of the guests return to a hotel where a former complaint was resolved in their favor.  Providing a positive experience with a free upgrade, breakfast or dinner offers great return on investment in the long run as the guests are likely to not only revisit but recommend the hotel to others.

Ask for a solution: An irate guest may not be satisfied or appeased with a free upgrade or meal offer. If nothing else works with the angry customer, asking him or her for a solution to the problem politely could be the best way to deal with such difficult guests.  Once you fulfil the guest’s request, following up on the issue will make the guest feel special and valued. According to an estimate, 12 positive experiences are needed to compensate for one negative issue that is unresolved.

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