How to complain when your travels go wrong

Various currencies on a plate

In my past there have definitely been situations where my easy going nature has dissuaded me from making a fuss in less than desirable travel situations where I probably should have. One of my friends is super talented at voicing her complaints when things aren’t up to standard and she has been given plenty of free stuff as a result. Travelling with her has opened my eyes and I now see her as my boss-guru what taught me to own that as a customer I have rights and am entitled to what I paid for and nothing less. Here are some top things to keep in mind when your travels don’t go as planned and you want to say something about it.

Do not feel guilty

You have entered into a transaction, you are paying for a product or service, you are not paying to suffer inconvenience so that you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. You have the right to receive the quality you pay for. Sure, complaining can be awkward at first, but remind yourself you are not being unreasonable, you are merely seeking a provider to make good on what was agreed. Never feel guilty for demanding what you have paid for in a mutually agreed deal.

Calm disappointment

Kill them with kindness. Ok not kindness, but a reasonable, firm, and disappointed demeanour rather than rudeness. It boils down to the fact that you paid for something that you either didn’t get or wasn’t up to scratch so you are entitled to be disappointed, have a right to complain, and should expect the provider to try and make amends. If you are calm, providers more often than not see reason rather than immediately going on the defence if they feel attacked.

No expectations

I think it is important to complain or feedback if something isn’t right, however, I don’t recommend doing it just to seek free stuff or money back. You should have no expectations. Whilst with certain well known travel names you will likely get some form of compensation, in many cases things won’t play out the way you would like. Don’t let this ruin your trip! Stay positive! It is a mishap which in my experience can make for a funny story. Only complain because it feels right to you, to get it off your chest, and never do it seeking a certain response or remorse which you may not get.

Complain early

Something wrong with your hotel room? Make a fuss immediately. If you do, the managers can’t say that you never raised an issue if they still haven’t taken action by the end or your stay. If you complain straight away you may be looking at a room upgrade rather than an inconvenient stay and a discount. Raise issues from the get go, and you throw in the added benefit of freeing yourself from the frustration which could affect your trip.

Demand to speak to the manager

Employees will always take you seriously when you request to speak to management. Rather than this needing to sound threatening, the ask shows that you are serious and expect a resolution and to be respectfully heard. A good manager should put you as the client first even if a poor employee hasn’t.

Play the review card

Management not playing ball? If you really feel hard done by and want to ensure they do right by you, mention the fact that you are going to have to give them poor reviews for not assisting you with your complaints. The travel industry is so competitive that reviews literally translate to profit or loss. You are completely in your right to write an honest review and the intention reminds providers that you may be one person but your voice can have significant impact.

Print proof

Certain deals can disappear one day to the next and when you go to claim what you paid for providers can deny that it existed. It is always a good idea to have a printed confirmation of bookings to avoid any confusion if what you paid for is not available. If complaining after the fact for a refund but have messages that you complained during your travels, this is powerful evidence you should always include too.