You think you have some tough customers?

I was stunned at the stories — all true — of demanding, self-absorbed customers. The customers all had one thing in common — they’d stayed at one of several elite hotels in a major European city.

Regaling me with outrageous tales at dinner, a dozen concierges entertained, but I also found it sad. The stories not only showed how truly helpless some of the richest people in the world can be without their attendants, but also how poorly they can treat those they’ve enlisted for help.

The stories included customers who:

  • demanded the hotel’s IT professional come to his suite to turn on his computer now — at 3 a.m. He didn’t even know how to turn on his computer, as his assistant usually did that for him and she had quit before this trip.
  • left her iPad in the room after checkout and wanted it returned. The staff found it and overnighted it to the address given — a hotel in Paris. Because of a hold up at Customs, it didn’t arrive for another day. The customer had already checked out of the Paris hotel, without informing the original concierge of this plan. She demanded it be found and returned or replaced by the original hotel. They replaced it.
  • checked in on a high-season Sat. night and demand 8:00 dinner reservations at the best restaurant in town. When the concierge explained the restaurant had a 3-month waiting list, the customer said he would have the concierge fired if he couldn’t get the reservation.
  • asked the concierge to help find a suitable vacation destination for his next trip. He gave specific parameters of room sizes needed, acceptable temperature ranges, activities close by, and a large geographical range. He wanted the concierge to research all available 5-star options for a few-week range. After 8 hours of Internet searching and calling, the concierge presented her results. The guest said, “Oh, we changed our mind.”

There were other stories of no tips after hours of research to get what the guest wanted, belittling from the customer, lots of problems caused by heavy accents and language problems.

These men and women go way above and beyond every day, sometimes with little thanks or increased compensation. They take city tours on their off days to expand their knowledge of options for their guests. They are truly unsung heroes in the hospitality business.

So the next time you think you have some demanding customers, think of what these folks have to go through to try to meet the needs of these high-end, but often un appreciative customers. It may make you see that you don’t have it quite so bad.