Group Arrives to Lost Reservation

Emergency Group Lost ReservationThis is the first of what will be a regular section of the blog where I describe a problem scenario that a hotel is faced with and how the problem is successfully solved.  I will be speaking from real scenarios that I’ve experienced, hypothetical scenarios and answering readers who have sent me a problem scenario that they would like an answer to.  For this post I will be writing about a time when a group showed up and their reservation was not in our property management system (PMS).  Because there’s plenty of advice on the internet for guests when faced with a lost reservation but not so for hotels.

The Scenario

It’s a Monday afternoon around 12:00pm and I’m in my office when the front desk agent comes to me and says a group has arrived but she can’t find them in our system.  Perhaps it’s a lost reservation by the PMS.  The group claims to have 11 guest rooms booked for tonight and a conference room for the whole day.  They understand that check-in is not until 4:00pm but the lady they booked with over the phone said they could access the conference room at any time.

How Did the Lost Reservation Happen?

Immediately I realized how this mix up had occurred,

  • I’m the sales manager so every group reservation is my responsibility.

  • The group leader says they made their reservation by calling the hotel and speaking to a lady.

  • Whoever they spoke to checked the availability in the PMS, told them that we had rooms but forgot to forward the guests information to me.

  • From that initial phone call the group leader got the impression that their reservation was confirmed.


Not quite.  Luckily for us it was a Monday and I knew that we had enough rooms available.  As the sales manager I also knew off the top of my head that all of our conference rooms were available.

Don’t Let the Guest Know There’s a Problem

This is the key when faced with any problem in a hotel.  Where possible do not let the guest know that there’s a problem.  Even if you have to lie.  Imagine how this group would react if a manager told them we have a lost reservation and they’re not in our system even after the front desk agent has asked for my assistance.  Not good.  When faced with any problem in a hotel all staff should try to remain calm, especially hotel management.

  • Keep calm.

  • Assure the guest that everything is fine.

  • Fix the problem.

How Was the Lost Reservation Fixed?

The first thing I did was after gathering all of the information from the front desk agent was walk out to the lobby and introduce myself to the group leader with a smile then went behind the front desk to look at our PMS system.

  • I double checked that their reservation was indeed lost just in case the front desk agent had made a mistake.

  • Checked for 11 available rooms.

  • I told the group leader that yes; we did have their reservation in the system. A LIE!

  • But then I said, “We have them all under your groups name but we actually need the name of each individual in our system. Could you write down the names of each guest?  Thanks”.

  • I handed over a pen and paper and told the guest that I was just going to run to the conference room and check that everything is set up for them. I asked how they wanted the tables and chairs and he said 2 round tables should be fine.

  • I went to the conference room while he wrote down all of the names. Once in the conference room I opened the adjacent storage room and pulled out 2 round tables and 11 chairs.  Setting them up took me less than a minute.  PHEW!

  • I returned to the front desk and assured the group leader that the conference room was ready but as check-in isn’t until 4:00pm I’ll make sure housekeeping prioritize their rooms to have them ready as soon as possible. The group was delighted!

  • While they all headed to the conference room I created a group reservation for 11 guest rooms and had the front desk agent enter the names of each individual from the group leader’s list.

  • Being a Monday we were lucky to have 11 clean guest rooms ready for check-in so we assigned them to our group, made up some keys and I brought them to the conference room for the guests.


As you can see the group got into their rooms without ever knowing that we had a problem with their lost reservation.  In this case, I recognized that it was okay to lie because I knew for sure that I could successfully resolve the situation.  I also minimized the wait time by going to and setting up the conference room while the group leader wrote down the names.  And even though I knew that we probably had 11 clean rooms available I still told the group leader that check-in wasn’t until 4:00pm.  This not only gave us enough time if the rooms were not available but more importantly, it made the hotel look fantastic when I handed the group their room keys before 4:00pm.  Just look at how we turned this lost reservation into so many customer service positives for the hotel!

Checking out,


Thanks for reading

  • Have you ever had a lost reservation and how did you handle it?
  • What else could I have done in this scenario?

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