Ask Anthony: Is the Customer Really Always Right?

Anthony Melchiorri, hotel fixer and host of Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible, loves dishing out advice. From sharing best practices to tackling operational issues, he’s here to answer your questions.

Is the customer really always right?
The answer is no. Ten times, no! The problem is we’ve been conditioned to think that simply because a guest says or does something, that’s the final word. After all, he’s a guest.

Granted, we are in a “people” business, which means that our profession is based on taking care of guests even when they make outrageous demands. But what may seem outrageous to us, might be something very important to our guest.


I may not agree that my hotel should pay for a guest’s $300 mankini because he claims he lost some color in my hot tub. Or why, because a guest heard a noise at 2 a.m. and became fearful that someone was coming into his room—even though he used the towels, watched TV, and didn’t call the desk to express any fears—I should comp his three-day stay.

My advice is don’t argue with the guest. That only makes the situation worse. The best thing you can do is make your guest feel that you are on his side. No, you don’t have to comp his entire stay or even at all. You need to find the root cause of his problem and then come up with a creative solution.

Got a question? Leave a reply below.


  1. Great advice! Having empathy doesn’t mean selling out and giving away goods and services! We’re in business to make money and provide exceptional service its a symbiotic relationship, one which cannot be ignored.

  2. Anthony,
    You are correct the guest isn’t always right, HOWEVER the guest does need to feel like we as the service provider think they are right. Often times if I just listen to a guest that is all the really want, someone to listen to their issue. Strangely those guests seem to be the ones with valid concerns that I want to resolve for them.

    There is a certain percentage that will complain no matter what. Comp their stay, buy their meals, or do whatever they ask and they still complain. I don’t know what that percentage is. In the tourist season for my location it is probably near 6-8%. The rest of the year I’d guess closer to 2%.

    There is an ART to learning the difference between the many types of complaints and handling them properly. I’ve been in the guest service industry for decades. A few times I thought I’d mastered the art of dealing with guest demands / issues but each time I’d soon be brought back to reality with something un expected. The best thing to do is run a clean hotel with efficient caring service, great F
    &B and strive for perfection all the while knowing at some point you just can’t please everyone. Then learn something from each time you are unable to please both the guest and hotel ownership.

Comments are closed.