We live in a world full of rejection. Our natural instincts tell us than any request, favor, or question will be a burden on the way that we naturally operate. In the attractions industry, we have generated a long list of policies and procedures centered on what our guests are able to ask for and what they aren’t. We then take these policies and procedures and use them to dictate how we will respond to guest requests. And more often than not, we find that incoming requests don’t fall within the parameters of what we’ve already agreed to do.
This has turned into a “no” mentality, and frankly, it’s gotten us into trouble. We’re commending our staff for following and enforcing the rules, but in some situations, it’s best when rules are either broken, bent, or otherwise modified to meet the specific demands of the situation. When we instinctively reject requests or questions purely out of reflex, we lose the connection that we have with our guests.
Recently I posted about an experience that I had where I requested a refund for something I wasn’t supposed to pay for to begin with. My concern was not over the fact that I was rejected, my concern was that it was an immediate rejection, and one given with no explanation beyond the all-encompassing “that’s our policy.” Our guests don’t care about our policies; they only care about what we will do for them. And if that policy doesn’t fit the situation, it’s time to present an alternative.
“The answer’s yes. What’s the question?” should be our natural instinct. Rather than being bound by uncompromising policies, my philosophy is to start with yes, and make adjustments as necessary. Before the guest even begins their request, you should be prepared to give unconditional approval. Then, once the request is received and gone through the filter of policies and restrictions, the response will be one of accommodation rather than rejection. Even if the request cannot or should not be delivered at face value, there will always be ways to please the guest in some form or another. A full rejection shows that you aren’t willing to be flexible, and that the guest is truly just another number.
Take guest requests as an opportunity to go above and beyond, exceed expectations, anticipate their needs, and act on them accordingly. And in instances where all other options have been exhausted and the answer does have to be no, tell them why. Never blindly reject a request and never quote “policy” as a valid excuse. If your policy only benefits you and hurts the guest, it’s time to revisit why the policy exists in the first place.
Josh Liebman specializes in guest experience within attractions, tourism, and hospitality, including service standards, complaint resolution, and driving guest loyalty. Josh is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster, consultant, and speaker. Josh has worked for some of the top attraction operators in the world, including, but not limited to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Merlin Entertainments, and Cedar Fair. Josh has been integral to the openings of multiple attractions in various leadership capacities. Additionally, Josh has consulted for many of the world’s leading hospitality brands, including Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, and many more. Josh is Co-Host of the AttractionPros Podcast, which brings the audience into the room with the top leaders, executives, and influencers in the attractions industry.