Spinning Your Words – 15% or $100?

Spinning Your WordsYou can get away with a lot by spinning your words around to elicit a positive response from the person you’re interacting with.  But, spinning your words in the context of guest service does not mean doing what the guest asks in order to make them happy.  What the guests usually wants is detrimental to the business.  You can’t go around giving large discounts or complimentary rooms because that’s bad revenue management.  When finding a resolution to a guest complaint we want to not only leave the guest satisfied but also our manager’s, owners and all stakeholders.  Don’t just give the most obvious solution to make the guest go away.  You need to think before you speak.

How spinning your words can satisfy all parties.

A front desk agent came to me saying that a guest is complaining about too much noise the previous 2 nights from children playing in the corridors outside their 3rd floor room and they wish to be compensated.  My initial thoughts were,

  1. The front desk agent and houseman who worked the previous 2 nights should have done something about the noise (and I’d speak to them about it afterwards).

  2. The guest should have phoned the front desk agent on one of the previous 2 nights if the problem wasn’t dealt with at the time.

I met the guest in the lobby to hear their complaint and get a clear definition of the problem.  They told me they were staying for 4 nights so they were halfway through their stay.  I pulled up their reservation in our PMS and saw that they had booked the room at a rate of $180.00 per night.  This includes a 10% discount because they were AAA members so the RACK rate was $200.00.  As a golden rule the hotel prefers not to give more than a 15% discount so that’s what I offered,

“How about we bring the room down by 15%” I said and they scoffed.

“Is that all?  We were really thinking you could do a lot more than that for us.  We haven’t been able to sleep for 2 nights because nothing was done.  Surely someone would’ve told those kids off after one night!”

They wanted more of a discount or even complimentary nights but I couldn’t think of a solution so I asked them to take a seat in the lobby for a few minutes while I “shuffle some numbers around in the computer”.  This was spinning your words in action so it sounded like I was actively trying to get them more of a discount when in fact I was just buying time to come up with a more creative solution.

I looked at the numbers on their reservation – the nights and the rates.  They were not happy with a 15% discount as they were already getting,

  • 10% off RACK.

  • That’s $20.00 per night.

  • $80.00 for the entire stay.

Then the solution hit me so I did the math,

  • $100.00 for the entire stay.

  • That’s $25.00 per night.

  • 12.5% off RACK

$100.00 off your stay sounds a lot better than 15%

The new discount of 12.5% was actually smaller than the 15% that I initially offered.  But “$100.00 off your stay” sounds better than “a 15% discount”.  Spinning your words in action!

I brought my solution to the guests and they were delighted.  Their faces lit up when I offered them $100.00 off their stay and they proceeded to tell me how much they love the hotel and how they will definitely return.  SUCCESS!

Why does spinning your words work in this example?

The guest was offered a concrete solution as opposed to something intangible.  What that means is $100.00 can be visualised and 15% cannot.  When you hear “15%” it’s just a number with no visual representation that you can relate it to.  When a guest hears “$100.00” they visualise cash money.  They can picture a $100.00 note and they can imagine all of the things they can buy with it.

Think about this the next time you’re faced with providing a discount,

You can hold $100.00 in your hand but you can’t hold 15%.

Checking out,


Thanks for reading

  • Do you have any examples of how spinning your words to something different helped achieve a positive outcome?

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