As a retreat center coordinator, you will face many challenges and issues that are spontaneous and unforeseen while you host groups at your property. Your goal when faced with these obstacles should be to mitigate your groups’ blowback feedback post-event by rectifying those issues in a timely, apologetic, and professional manner. Blowback feedback is a funny sounding term we like to use at Retreat Central which describes the immediate negative evaluations a property can receive after an event, where one or more complications or challenges occurred, but were not properly navigated or managed. In this article, we will give you some tips and recommendations to use or pass on to your staff when tough instances happen during your retreats.
When working directly with retreat centers over the years, Retreat Central has discovered many strategies to help retreat coordinators respond to and navigate through unforeseen negative situations that occur while groups and events are utilizing their facilities. We have encountered many strange and unusual challenges as well as some that could have been easily prevented. We have learned there are many ways for the on-the-ground personnel to handle these problems, some better than others, but we have also learned some fundamental rules when managing your relationships with your clients that will help you prevent the negative feedback which in turn will hurt the groups’ return probability.
When a negative or challenging issue arises, there are several ways you can help your group overcome the problem without them wanting to never return to your retreat center. Here are some tips to remember that can keep your guests remaining happy and wanting to come back many years.
- Start with a timely apology. Whether you agree that your staff or facility is to blame, a quick apology shows immediate concern and empathy. This helps your group understand that you acknowledge the issue too and that you want to help fix it. Use the phrase, “I am really sorry that has happened”, or “Please accept our apology from our entire staff for this mistake” is another you may utilize.
- Ask one question then listen, listen, listen. Ask them something you need to know to solve the problem then listen to them in a calm and professional manner no matter how upset or rude they are communicating. Sometimes allowing a group to voice their frustration immediately, without any repercussions or arguments, can make all the difference later when a group is deciding to book for the next year or leave a review on your social media.
- Give your group an immediate plan to rectify the current situation but also give them a thought-out plan for the future that will solve the issue if they decide to return. Let them know ASAP that you are on top on the problem now and that you have a solution for their next event. Once you have given them that solution, make sure to make a note of what needs to happen next time, in order to ensure the problem doesn’t persist. If you have the same issue happen again on the next event, you will surely have some blowback feedback that will hurt the chances of your retreat center retaining that business.
- After you have solved the issue as best as you possibly can, circle back to the group with something you can offer them in compensation. There are many things that have little to no cost effect to your center that can change a groups’ perspective of your sincerity to help them and make them feel welcomed back. Offer anything from food concessions to staff facilitation events. Your obvious willingness to compensate them for their inconvenience will pick up the spirits of the groups’ attendees and will help the coordinators understand that your retreat center wants them to be happy, no matter the cost.
Your goal as a retreat center should be to have retention groups that you are accustomed to returning every year with little to no new planning or preparations. Your calendar should be locked in each year with confidence that each groups’ visit and stay will be exceptional and amazing. In order to reach that goal, retention is key, and the key to retention is to mitigate your blowback feedback. Do that well, and you will be turning away groups due to no availability before you can say “blowback feedback”!