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COMPLAINT MANAGEMENT AS A QUALITY COMPONENT OF SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE


ADVANTAGE IN 4 AND 5 STAR HOTELS THE ALDEMAR HOTELS & SPA GROUP PARADIGM

Vassilis Fragoulakis, MSc.
15, Dimitri Kyriakou str., GR-714 09, E-mail: vassilis_fragoulakis@yahoo.com

Dr. Theodoros Stavrinoudis
Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean
8, Michalon str., GR-821 00, E-mail: tsta@aegean.gr

Abstract

This paper focused on complain management as a quality component of sustainable competitive
advantage in 4 and 5* hotels. Therefore, literature reviewing regarding sustainability and Total
Quality Management (TQM) principles application in settling complaints and increasing
customer satisfaction was carried out, and a field research in one of the leading hotel chains in
Greece, the Aldemar Hotels & Spa Group, was conducted. The methodology adopted was
personal interview based on a structured questionnaire addressed to all Aldemar Hotels & Spa
managers. The topics considered were:
degree of TQM principles implementation, as a sustainable competitive advantage
major grounds for complaints
means of encouraging customers to express their complaints
handling of customers complaints
analysis and evaluation of complaints.

The basic conclusions drawn from this research led to the formulation of a set of factors affecting
the successful handling of complaints as a means of customer satisfaction, built on TQM
principles. Such conclusions illustrated the fact that the concepts of customer satisfaction,
continuous improvement and provision of quality services can lead to sustainable competitive
advantage.

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Keywords: Sustainability, Total Quality Management, Complaint handling, Customer
satisfaction, Hotels, Aldemar Hotels & Spa Group.

1. Introduction

International scientific literature contains many definitions of the meaning and content of quality.
A representative definition claims that quality includes the degree to which service attributes
desired by customers are identified and incorporated in the service and the degree to which
desired levels of these attributes are perceived by the customers to be achieved (Murdick et al.,
1990:12). Quality cannot be evaluated in absolute terms, but must meet customers expectations.

Jones & Lockwood (1989:38) believe that quality has to be treated as a key result area of a
hotels operation and not as a consequential result of various other processes. They adopt the
British Standards Institutions (BSI) definition of quality whereby quality is defined as the
totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy
stated or implied needs (BSI, 1983:18). This definition appears to be complete yet in reality it is
vague as customers themselves constitute a part of the service experience and project onto the
product expectations and perceptions which are not controlled by the enterprise (Baker and
Crompton, 2000: 795). Nevertheless, these expectations must be pinpointed. A more useful
definition of quality is provided by Wyckoff: the degree of excellence intended and the control
of variability in achieving that excellence, in meeting the customers requirements (Wyckoff,
1984: 85). Wyckoffs definition renders a more positive dimension and is useful in that it
contains two essential concepts:
The first concept refers to the product quality planning. Quality planning refers to the
standard used by management as a basis for enhancing and monitoring a product. In all
likelihood, it is the most critical element in a quality strategy (Randall and Senior,
1992:7). Quality planning is the starting point for the appropriate quality management.
The second concept refers to the suitability of a product or the extent to which it satisfies
the total needs of a customer. In hospitality services, the real need for rest or dining is
often secondary to the peripheral needs, which as a rule constitute the basis of a
customers satisfaction (Haywood, 1983:166). Tourists are likely to have certain basic
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expectations regarding comfort and cleanliness standards in a hotel. They are not
surprised or exceptionally satisfied when they realize that their expectations were met.
They merely are not dissatisfied. For there to be essential satisfaction, service must
exceed expectations in order to satisfy social and psychological needs. This implies that
the product must tend towards the concept of total quality (Teare, 1996:123).

In conclusion, the following are prerequisites for the attainment of outstanding service quality in
hospitality organizations:
the appropriate company culture and entrepreneurial spirit
a suitable management style (participatory and flat)
a commitment to and passion for service excellence (Tenner and De Toro, 1992:12)
the proactive involvement of the human resources with empowerment to handle any
quality problems immediately and on the spot
the support of the organizational structure with the required resources and motives
the use of modern management tools and techniques.

2. Total Quality Management (TQM) in hospitality organizations

TQM is the totality of activities undertaken and methods applied by the hospitality organization
in order to satisfy the customer and simultaneously motivate its human and other resources at the
lowest possible cost (Velissariou et al., 2000, Sotiriadis, 2000). TQM introduces a wider
dimension into managerial thought, a different approach to management. According to Wibberley
(1992:32), TQM is the ceaseless effort towards continuous improvement, the daily small steps
forward, what the Japanese call kaizen. Such effort includes the notion that total quality is an
endless road and guides the inherent inclination towards progress, which we believe exists in all
our employees.

TQM implementation in a tourist enterprise produces the following results:
maximizes the satisfaction employees derive from their work
contributes to improved coordination of the various hotel sections
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contributes to the enhancement of communication among the staff and promotes team
spirit
reduces customers complaints and contributes to their satisfaction
improves productivity
reduces mistakes and, as a result, obviates the recovery cost
results in upgrading services offered
present a better image to the world (Christou, 2000:63).

Jones has proposed that TQM strategy in hospitality organizations involves a number of key
steps, as illustrated in Figure 1.





















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Figure 1
A model of TQM in hospitality organizations


Source: Jones, P. and Merricks, P., 1997:132
Carry out opportunity study
Appoint quality steering group
Communicate quality message
Empower employees
Carry put quality training
Set up quality circles
Measure customer satisfaction
Develop mission statement
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On the basis of the above, it is our view that the elements which differentiate TQM from other
quality strategies are:
the holistic approach and the involvement of the whole organization
senior executives play a key role in leading the quality drive and communicating the
quality message
employee empowerment which involves staff more actively in the decision-making
process and in monitoring the implementation of decisions.

It is believed that everyday problems in their totality should be effectively resolved by the first-
line employees, viz. the ones that come in direct contact with customers. However, such approach
must be systematic (Jones and Lockwood, 1989: 65). The process of continuous quality
improvement is one of the most successful total quality methods in order to enhance the effective
involvement of the staff. This method motivates the staff and provides the tools, i.e., the system
and the passion, for the practical resolution of problems. This goal can be achieved through
quality teams or circles. We can claim that the contribution of quality circles technique to TQM is
one of the prerequisites for the success of a quality programme which encourages staff to see
their tasks through and to secure the continuous improvement of customer service. The moment
of truth for the organization comes when its employee faces a complaining customer. The
correct handling of the problem and, more importantly, its prevention, initially lead to acceptance
and, at a later stage, to the customer actively advertising the hotel (Spanos, 1993:73).

3. Aldemar hotels and spa

Aldemar Hotels is one of the biggest hotel chains in Greece. With a capacity of 5,500 beds and a
staff of 1,800, is among the most dynamic entities in the Greek hospitality industry. Dr. Nicos S.
Angelopoulos is the founder, chairman and managing director. Aldemar Hotels comprises the
following:

6 de luxe and first class hotel units, in three strategic destinations: Crete (3), Rhodes (2) and W.
Peloponnese (1):
Aldemar Knossos Royal Village
*****

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Aldemar Royal Mare Village
*****

Aldemar Cretan Village
****

Aldemar Paradise Royal Mare
*****

Aldemar Paradise Village
****

Aldemar Olympian Village
*****
.

Three state-of-the-art conference centres:
Aldemar Knossos Royal Village Conference Centre
Aldemar Paradise Royal Mare Conference Centre
Aldemar Olympian Village Conference Centre.

Two Thalasso Spa Centres:
Royal Mare Thalasso,
Royal Olympian Spa & Thalasso.

Aldemar hotels guests share the following features:
with regard to socio-economic origin: guests are of middle and upper class levels
with regard to the market:
1) Clientele supplied through cooperation with some of the major Tour Operators
worldwide
2) Corporate clientele (from the domestic and international markets) in connection with
Conferences, Meetings, Seminars, Incentive Trips and Events
3) Individual guests who make their reservations directly through: (a) the hotels, (b) the
Groups head office, and (c) the Internet.
with regard to the frequency of visits: the company has established a group of repeaters. The
goal is to retain and develop this kind of clientele through: (1) the implementation of a
programme of customer relations management and, more importantly, (2) the development of
a guest loyalty programme which will consolidate the companys integrated policy towards
repeaters/ loyal guests and trade partners in Greece and abroad through the offer of special
privileges.
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4. Research methodology

Tourist market research is the method whereby providers of tourist products and services
remain aware of the needs and desires of consumers (Christou, 1999:33-24). The aim of this
research is to investigate the prevailing situation as fully as possible with regard to the views of the
Aldemar Group hotels top managers on the application of TQM in the Groups hotels and
specifically, on the way complaints are handled. Its an ad hoc research (Middleton, 2001:99-110),
since it is not a part of an ongoing effort. Simultaneously, it constitutes a combination of qualitative and
quantitative research since it leads to the collection of statistical data as well as unforeseen elements and
information. The majority of the data collected were primary data, given that they refer to first hand
information gathered for the needs of the specific paper.

This research is also a basic one, in the sense that its overall target is to understand a given situation
(or problem) and compile a database for future use through the gathering of relevant information.
In addition to basic, a research can also be termed applied if it has to do with the immediate
resolution of a problem faced by a business and its aim is to take measures on the basis of the
results of such research (Sekaran, 2003:25).

With regard to sampling, it was considered essential to base sample selection on the principles of
purposive sampling whereby the researcher selects the research subjects on the basis of his/her personal
estimate of their typicality and suitability (Opie, 2004:99). The Groups hotel managers are all
experienced tourism professionals fully versed in the manner of handling complaints in the
specific company. Consequently, their selection apparently meets the requirement for reliable
information gathering in relation to the subject matter of our research, given that it adheres to
such principles. Our sample comprises the five (5) general managers of Aldemar hotels. The
personal interviews were conducted in the period January to February 2008.




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5. Research findings

Processing and analyzing the data derived from the research lead to some very useful findings,
put forth below.

5.1. Number of employees and type of contract

Table 1
Percentage of Permanent vs Seasonal Staff

Hotel Permanent (%) Seasonal (%)
CRETAN VILLAGE 2.27 97.73
KNOSSOS ROYAL VILLAGE 12.14 87.86
OLYMPIAN VILLAGE 12 88
ROYAL MARE VILLAGE 1.25 98.75
PARADISE ROYAL MARE 7.3 92.7

Clearly, the majority of Aldemar employees are seasonal. This is quite understandable given that
the units of the subject organization operate only during the summer. Nevertheless, there are
several permanent employees who handle pending matters as well as task that must be conducted
during winter. At this point, it is worth mentioning that a number of staff is employed on the
basis of open-ended contracts at the companys head offices in Athens.

5.2. Degree of application of TQM principles

This question examined, in a 5band scale, the application of TQM principles by the Aldemar
hotel chain through the evaluation of the degree of their application to the following key
parameters: Leadership, Employee Involvement in decision making, Systematic Approach to
Management, Continuous Improvement, Informed Decision Making, Mutually Beneficial
Relationships with Suppliers and, lastly, Customer Focus. Results are shown in the following
chart
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Chart 1
Degree of Application of TQM Principles

0 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3 3,5 4
Leadership
Employee Involvement
Systematic Approach to Management
Continuous Improvent
Informed Decision Making
Mutually Beneficial Relationships with Suppliers
Customer Focus
Excellent Great Good Fair Not So Great


With regard to leadership, the majority of managers (four vs one) replied that they apply TQM
principles to a significant degree in the Groups hotels. With regard to employee involvement,
three of the managers believe that employees are encouraged to participate in various processes
to a significant degree, whereas the other two maintain that employees are encouraged to a very
large degree. Four of the five managers believe that the systematic approach to management is
applied to a significant degree, whilst the fifth one maintains that it is applied to a very large
degree. Three of the managers state that informed decision making is applied to a significant
degree, whilst the other two are confident that it is applied to a very large degree. We find that the
question on mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers has the smallest success rate vis--vis
the balance of the questions, with four of the five managers stating that it is applied to a
significant degree, whereas the fifth one maintains that it is to a very large degree. Lastly,
customer focus, which we daresay is considered one of the most important TQM principles,
recorded very favourable results with four of the managers stating that it is applied to a
significant degree.
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The foregoing clearly illustrate that the company takes TQM principles into account and
endeavours to apply them on many levels. However, it is widely known that this is not always
feasible. The company has a good structure and organization and the various posts are manned by
trained persons. As evidenced by the questions that follow, these facts lead to TQM principles
being applied to a large extent, which results in the immediate reduction of customers
complaints and in their correct handling when they do occur.

5.3. The impact of investing in quality

The next question addresses the highly significant impact investing in quality has on the
operation of hotel enterprises. Interviews produce very interesting conclusions which highlight
the extent of the positive impact quality may have on many different aspects of the hospitality
sector and, secondly, the good standing of the subject company. All managers in question believe
that investment in quality affects operating efficiency. The same result was shared by corporate
performance, corporate development and competitive edge. Changes in management were
highlighted as a very positive development by four of the managers while three of the managers
consider profitability as a very important positive factor, with the other two maintaining the view
that it is extremely important. Lastly, as far as cost control is concerned, three of the managers
consider it as extremely important vs the other two who consider it very important.

All the foregoing show that TQM elements and their immediate impact on the companys
development and efficiency are known to and to a large degree accepted by the companys
managers. This corroborates the aims of our research and underlines the fact that TQM plays a
decisive role as a means of customer satisfaction and complaint handling.






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Chart 2
Impact of investing in quality

0 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3 3,5 4 4,5 5
Operating ef ficiency
Corporate Performance
Development
Competative edge
Market shares
Management changes
Profitability
Cost Control
Highly significant Very significant Neither sig/nt nor in/cant
Of little significance Of no significance


5.4. Impact of investing in quality on various divisions

The next question placed emphasis on recording the significance of investment in quality and its
impact on the various hotel divisions. The results have shown unanimity with respect to the
positive role of investing in quality and of its high impact on the smooth operation of the major
hotel divisions. All five managers agreed that the investment has an extremely high impact on
the front desk, the restaurant/ bar and the kitchen. With regard to the floor division, four of the
managers believe that the impact is of the highest degree, whilst the fifth one is of the opinion
that the impact is very significant. Chart 3 illustrates that quality impacts all hotel operations.




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Chart 3
Impact of investing in quality on various hotel divisions



5.5. Customer complaint management

The research then focused on whether the company has a system for the management of customer
complaints. All interviewees replied positively, which illustrates to a large extent that the
company takes TQM principles into account as an indispensable tool for corrective action.

5.6. Main reasons for customer complaints

As part of the research, managers were asked to describe three of the most common complaints
they have to handle. According to the results, that complains are:
(a) State of the beach
(b) Problems resulting from the nationality mix of guests. Most tourists prefer to stay in hotels
where the majority of guests are of the same nationality as they are. The fact that the subject
company receives guests of various nationalities at times produces tensions
(c) F&B pricing policy in comparison with destinations outside the eurozone, e.g. Turkey.
0
0,5
1
1,5
2
2,5
3
3,5
4
4,5
5

Front Office

Housekeeping

Restaurant/Bar
Kitchen
Highly significant
Very significant
Neither significant nor insignificant
Of little significance
Of no significance
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The age of the hotel, insufficient infrastructure and off-premises services, room damages,
entertainment programmes, infrastructure problems (Airport/ Roads) and, lastly, the need for
Russian-speaking staff were recorded as common complaints.

These complaints are common in a large number of hotels worldwide. Whilst regular checks can
help avoid some of this problems (e.g., room damages), not all complaints can be anticipated. As
far as infrastructure deficiencies and off-premises services are concerned, it has been noted that
the non-existence of modern and sufficiently large airports, the lack of regular public transport
services and the poor road quality are not in line with the quality of the Groups hotels. This
company can only facilitate its guests by supplying accurate information on means of transport.
Aldemar has expanded to new markets, such as Russia. Russian customers usually speak only
their own language, hence the remark by certain guests that there is a need for Russian-speaking
personnel.

















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Chart 4
Most common reasons for customer complaints


5.7. Ways of encouraging customers to express their complaints

Managers were asked to specify the methods employed by the hotel management in order to
encourage customers to express their complaints. Person-to-person conversations with customers
and questionnaires were considered to be the most common methods since they were mentioned
by all subjects. Thank you letters soliciting guests suggestions were selected by two of the
managers and, lastly, guest comment cards were selected by one of the participants in the study.
It is worth noting that no one selected the complaints box. Aldemar has invested extensively in
PR, in this manner, division staff is in constant contact with guests, thus giving them the
opportunity to express their complaints. Moreover, the questionnaires that are placed in every
room, in combination with PRs oral encouragement are the most frequent methods. The fact that
none of the managers opted for the complaints box shows that guests prefer to speak to someone
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2
1
Need for Russian-speaking personnel
Infrastructure problems (Airport / Roads)
Entertainment programmes
Room damages
F&B pricing policy vis--vis destinations outside the eurozone
Deficiencies in off-premises infrastructure and services
Nationality mix
Hotel age
State of the beach
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and express their complaints than to write them down on a piece of papers which they believe no-
one will take into account.

Chart 5
Ways of encouraging customers to express their complaints


5.8. Major steps for handling complaints

Special emphasis was placed on highlighting major steps taken by hotel managers in order to
cope with complaints. It is impressive that training, which constitutes a TQM principle, was cited
by all managers. Another long-term exercise, viz., preparing a manual for the professional
handling of complaints as well as specifying the requisite skills, were selected by two
interviewees. Referring the matter to a supervisor was selected by three managers, whereas
preparing a complaints submission form was selected by one manager only. The results indicate
that all managers consider that staff training constitutes the best measure for handling complaints.
It is also interesting to note that provisions have been made for the preparation of submission
forms and the supply of manuals to staff.
0 1 2 3 4 5
Person-to-person conversations with guests
Guest comment cards
Complaints Box
Completion of questionnaires
Thank-you letters soliciting suggestions
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Chart 6
Major steps for handling complaints

3,27
1,9
2,18
5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Referral to a supervisor
Complains form
Specifying the requisite skills for handling of
complaints
Training programmes for associates


5.9. Ways of reacting to complaints

Whereas in the previous question we examined anticipatory measures, this question addresses the
ways in which the company handles a complaining customer. The majority of managers (four out
of five) replied that they reacted by contacting the customers in person, changing amenities and
improving unsatisfactory services. Two of the managers telephoned the customer and handled the
complaint in all appropriate manners, depending on the nature of each case. Subsequent
monetary compensation, replacement or repair of the broken facility, as well as a gift or coupon
were selected by one manager only. Such manners of compensation are considered necessary in
many cases in order for the customer to feel that he/she has been given due attention. In addition,
they ensure that the incident will not influence the customers decision to visit the hotel again,
therefore it is important that complaints are handled whilst the guest is still in the hotel.





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Chart 7
Ways of reacting to complaints



The interviews produced findings of great interest with regard to the specific procedures applied
for the identification, analysis and resolution of customers complaints. Such procedures adopt
TQM features. This is largely the result of the existence of a central quality improvement
division. Below is a detailed analysis of the procedures, as illustrated in the extensive interviews
and subsequent communication with hotel managers.

6. Analysis, evaluation and handling of complaints

6.1. Guests still at the hotel:

6.1.1. Minor complaints Demands Negative Comments

Complaints are defined as minor if they can be easily resolved. For example: A/C, food,
beverage, noises, misunderstandings, erroneous information, etc. Minor complaints or demands
are expressed by the Guest to the Reception or to the Guest Relations Supervisor. Thereafter:
1. The Guest Relations Supervisor undertakes to resolve the Guests complain immediately
by calling the competent division directly
0 1 2 3 4 5
All the above, depending
on merits of case
Change of amenities
Subsequent monetary compensation
Telephone contact with the guest
Coupons or gifts
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2. If the Guest Relations Supervisor believes that the Guest should be made a special offer,
he/she applies the procedure specified in the following paragraph
3. Subsequently, the Guest Relations Supervisor communicates with the Guest to check
whether the Guest is satisfied and the problem has been resolved.

6.1.2. Serious Complaints

Serious complaints are expressed to any division dealing with the Guest, or directly to the Guest
Relations Supervisor. Specifically, if the complaint has to do with the food, it can be addressed to
the F&B manager or to the hotel maitre d. In other cases, the guest can contact the hotels Guest
Relations Supervisor.

6.1.2. (a) Legal Matters

If it is a legal matter involving the insurance company and falling under the category of Injury,
Damage, Theft, or Loss, the Guest completes the Injury, Loss, Damage report in the presence of
a competent person appointed by the Room Division Manager or the Front Office Manager.
Thereafter:
1. The Guest Relations Supervisor enters the Guests complaint Form in the hotel in the
Notes field, under Note type: Guest Complaints, and under Activity in the Daily Report.

2. The Guest Relations Supervisor communicates with the Guest to check whether the Guest
is satisfied and the problem has been resolved.

6.1.2. (b) Tour Operators Customer

1. The Guest Relations Supervisor informs the Hotel Manager for the complaint in writing
and suggests a specific offer be made to the guest
2. If the Hotel Manager approves the offer, sends the approval to the Room Service
Supervisor for action and notifies the Guest Relations Supervisor
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3. The Guest Relations Supervisor prepares a letter and hands it to the Room Service
Supervisor or the Guest Relations Supervisor
4. The Guest Relations Supervisor complete the Guests complaint Form
5. The Guest Relations Supervisor communicates with the guest to check whether he/she is
satisfied and the problem has been resolved
6. The Guest Relations Supervisor notifies the our Operators Representative and
completes the Tour Operators relevant form, where applicable, mentioning the nature of
the offer, the cost and the reason therefore
7. A copy of this form is delivered to the Room Division Manager.

6.1.2. (c) Individual Customer

The Guest Relations Supervisor informs the Hotel Manager for the complaint in writing and
suggests a specific offer be made to the guest. If the Hotel Manager approves the offer, he sends
the approval to the Room Service Supervisor for action and notifies the Guest Relations
Supervisor. Thereafter, the Guest Relations Supervisor:
1. Prepares a With Compliments card
2. Enters the guests complaint Form
3. Communicates with the guest to check whether he/she is satisfied and the problem has
been resolved.

6.2. Guests who have checked out

6.2.1. Complaint letter sent by the Guest or by the Tour Operator to the Athens Head Office

1. The Customer Relations Executive enters the complaint Form details
2. The Customer Relations Executive informs the Room Division Manager and the Guest
Relations Supervisor in writing, with copy to the Hotel Manager, and requests an update
on the incident. As soon as all the required information and documents are collected, the
Customer Relations Executive replies to the Guest or the Tour Operator
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3. All correspondence is entered by the Customer Relations Executive into the hotel
Complain Form
4. The Customer Relations Executive informs the Administration.

6.2.2. Letter of complaint from the Guest or the Tour Operator to the Hotel

1. The Hotel Manager or the Room Division Manager forwards the letter of complaint to the
Customer Relations Executive together with all necessary information and related
documents
2. Thereafter the Customer Relations Executive applies the above-mentioned procedure.

6.2.3. Written Request for Compensation

Depending on the nature of the case, the above procedure is applied in its entirety, the
Administration is informed and the incident is resolved in accordance with Managements
instructions.

7. Conclusions Policy recommendations

Customer complaints are to be viewed as a gift to management since the customer, of his/her own
accord and without any outlay on the part of the company, pinpoints products and services
failures and thus offers the company the opportunity to rectify problems and contain the damage
they cause to the budget unbeknown to the company. When customers realize they are wronged,
they react in various ways, depending on their personal traits. The company in turn should
develop a complete complaint management system with specific procedures and fixed time limits
for the acceptance, processing and resolving customers complaints. Such system has specific
goals and its various stages adhere to a pre-determined model.

The most common method of collecting customers impressions and complaints consists in
questionnaires. These are pre-printed forms with a number of questions concerning the stay at the
hotel and customers are asked to complete and return them for processing, so that customers
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satisfaction may be measured. Designing such questionnaires requires knowledge, strategy and,
above all, a true determination to capture the real picture and not just some virtual reality. It is
managements responsibility, through staff guidance, motivation and appraisal, to achieve
optimum customer complaint handling. The proper empowerment of the right staff members is
the key to restoring the satisfaction of complaining customers.

Our research has shown that Aldemar hotels realize this requirement, mainly through the
existence of an independent Quality and Development Division whose activities include, inter
alia:
Continuous and systematic checks (by means of questionnaires and ad hoc mini-
surveys) of the quality of services offered in the Aldemar Hotels
Quality Audits, i.e., systematic checks of quality specifications of services and of
work procedures (Mystery Guest Programs, Shopping Calls, Check list Audit).
Study and analysis of statistical data derived from the research of financial indexes
and the update of all divisions involved in the provision of services.

Through such activities, the company takes account of TQM and anticipates any complaints. As
we have already mentioned, complaints are an inseparable part of service provision because of
the involvement of the human factor. Garvin (1990:23) has underlined that "Quality means
pleasing customers, not just protecting them from annoyances". The results of our research
demonstrated that the company in question strives to apply this definition. Crosby (1979:44) says
that the organization should:
comprehend its own needs and set a specific procedure for the achievement of its goals
(Comprehension)
secure the commitment to quality principles by all parties involved (Commitment),
continuously improve quality in order to achieve competitive advantage (Competence)
minimize mistakes through problem identification and application of procedures for
their resolution (Correction)
secure the internal flow of information, i.e., maintain open communication channels
(Communication), and lastly
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connect the past with the present through a continuous improvement process
(Continuance).

On the basis of the foregoing, we understand that all persons working in an organization must
participate in the quality improvement process, by achieving the targets and honouring the
commitments of the organization. Employee empowerment through a team mechanism for the
implementation of improvements and changes constitutes a fundamental principle of Total
Quality Management. On the basis of the research conducted at the Aldemar hotels, it is
recommended that the following policies be adopted or enhanced:
Employees should be given more incentives (by way of training, remuneration or
special benefits) in order to become more proactively involved in the provision of
higher quality services and achieve set reservation targets within a specified period.
The company should organize more seminars for all hotel divisions in order to ensure
that its employees are properly trained so as to either avoid mistakes which cause
complaints, or to resolve such complaints with greater readiness. Moreover, the
company could offer greater financial incentives, perhaps by way of a bonus to the best
employee, based on customers vote
Training courses must be organized with each organizations real needs in mind and
recommend realistic service alternatives focusing on the customers needs
Each divisions procedures must be regularly reviewed by senior management to
ensure that they result in the provision of quality services and facilitate employee
performance. It is recommended that procedures contained in this essay be used, once
they are adapted to the needs of each organization.

Although Aldemar systematically applies TQM principles, we believe that it could be improved
further in the area of customer update. It is a well-known fact that questionnaires increase
customer expectations. When customers believe that their opinions are truly valued, they expect
organizations to proceed to changes and improvements. When organizations in turn effect
changes, improve their products and adopt many of their customers suggestions, they very rarely
let the customers know. The next time the customer hears about these changes will probably be
when he will have conveyed this negative image to friends and acquaintances, he may have
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hesitated to consume the organizations products or services again, he may have been enticed by
makes some other complaint. By then, however, he will have formed a negative impression of the
company may even have consumed some of the competitors products or services. The
organization could have avoided all these unpleasant consequences if it had updated the customer
on the changes and improvements adopted as a result of his comments. This would have
improved the organizations image significantly. Lack of communication can negate the value of
significant and necessary changes.

References

Baker, A. and Crompton, L. (2000), Quality, Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions, Annals of
Tourism Research, 27 (3), pp. 785-804.
British Standards Institute, BSI 4778. (1983), BSI Handbook 22, London: HMSO.
Christou, E. (2000), Principles and Philosophy of National and District Marketing Plans, Patras:
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