Dealing with difficult guests and managing their expectations

In this world where The Super Rich can buy anything, more and more of our clients are getting very demanding. In many cases, it is becoming very difficult to please them. The big question: Are they demanding or are we not delivering on our promise? Are we managing their expectations or promising to over deliver?

Ever notice that sometimes folks act differently around wealthy people? Perhaps it’s because (whether we admit it or not) most of us want rich people to like and accept us. After all, it’s not a bad thing when high net worth individuals want us to ‘Hang out’ with them On-board their SuperYachts.In a number of cases, they appear to be our buddies discussing many things from sport, politics, food, fashion, music etc. So the problem is that sometimes when employees interact with guests who they perceive to be of higher status, they try too hard to impress. Or at the other extreme, some employees become too submissive ie. a doormat and some of us lose our guard and think we are their friends. So once we realize that our guests want to be with a team that they trust and respect and that we are not their friends, we can start building and developing real relationships with them. Setting the boundaries between our guests and us is extremely important. Learning to understand their emotional needs, dealing with them in a practical empathetic and professional manner, and, learning to say ‘No’ sometimes, will pay major dividends.

Here are five tips to work with our Super Rich clients on their Superyachts.

  1. Get clear about your status

There’s no upside to acting either superior or inferior to your clients. If you act superior, you come across as arrogant and your guests won’t like you.  If you act inferior, you’ll be perceived as obsequious and your clients won’t respect you.  Better to put yourself at the same status as your guests. As they say at the Ritz Carlton, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

The question is, what’s the relationship that our Super Rich clients value most of us yachties? I’ll tell you what it’s not. Your relationship goal is not to become your guest’s friend. Your clients already have their own friends – and they’re free.  What guests value is a team On-board their yacht who they regard as their Trusted Advisor. They will pay a premium and show you more respect when they trust you to help them make the right decision.

  1. Earn early respect

Our clients who are sometimes demanding, rushed, frustrated, angry and unreasonable so we need to understand the importance of earning early respect. This means that if your client is trying to talk with you while chatting on their cell phone, it’s best to smile and respond with, “I’ll take care of you as soon as you have finished your call.” If a guest asks you a question while staring down at their paperwork, don’t answer their question. Instead, wait till they actually look you in the eye, then say “ Yes, I can help you with that.” By waiting until you have the person’s undivided attention you convey that you are not a ‘yes’ person, not a doormat but someone who is worthy of respect. Our guests are happier dealing with employees who earn their respect. Everyone wins.

  1. Prove you’re somebody

In general, when you introduce yourself to your guests, share your first and last name. Often we just tell people our first name because we are being casual – like friends, right? But remember, you’re not trying to be your guest’s pal, you want to be seen as their trusted advisor. More importantly, when you share your last name, you instantly convey the message, “If you have a question or concern you should ask for me (which is why I’m giving my full name). I’m not trying to hide or be anonymous. I’m comfortable being held accountable.” All by simply using first and last names. Easy and powerful.

  1. Listen more. Talk Less.

Perhaps the quickest way to turn our guests off is talking too much. Or talking when we should be listening. When listening, try to understand what lies beneath the guest’s surface request. The more you demonstrate that you understand their unexpressed and eventual needs, the more you’ll be seen as a trusted advisor e.g. ‘We want some sandwiches’ never assume that you know what type of sandwiches they want, even if you have done this before. Ask them how they want them, what type of bread, what fillings, toasted or not etc. Never assume just ask! Always answer a question with a question. Remember you learn nothing with ‘your mouth open!’

  1. Be the go-to person

Our guests will have requests that don’t fall neatly into our existing procedures. So, you may have to check with a senior manager, however, as the ‘go-to person’ they want to know that you have the answers and can help them. So when you’re in that position, do not tell your client, ‘I’ll have to go ask my manager,’ as that will make your client feel that you have no authority.  Instead, tell them “Let me look into this and see what I can come up with the answer in half an hour’ and if I cannot find the answer in that time I will be back to let you know what is happening.’ This will give them the confidence that you are able to deal with their request, and that they will keep them apprised of developments. Make sure you do!

In conclusion, interestingly, dealing with Super Rich guests is the same as dealing with any other guests. They feel like the rest of us. They have fears, anxieties, get angry, have emotional needs and are self-indulgent. So always ask yourself the question, how would I respond to the way I am dealing with my guest. If your response is negative, start again…as they too will feel the same way. Everyone – including you and your team members – deserves respect and attention. However, you have to earn your guest’s trust and loyalty! Remember to ask questions, listen to the answers, deliver the right solutions, have empathy, but most importantly be YOU and don’t compromise your values! Don’t be a ‘Yes’ person, be a Trusted Advisor.

Train your crew onboard on how to communicate with guests to improve the guest experience and crew retention.

COURSE: Turning Difficult Clients Around