Hospitality and tourism

Table of Content

Introduction                                                                                                     3

Service failure                                                                                                  3

Service Recovery ……………………………………………………………4

Table 1

Service failure and recovery procedure …………………………………..5

Marriott’s service failure …………………………………………………..6

Failed recovery process …………………………………………………….7

Recommendations …………………………………………………………..8

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………9

References ……………………………………………………………………11


Service Failure and Recovery in the Hospitality and Tourism Sector

Service managers in the hospitality and tourism industry often get complaints from clients or customers regarding the services they receive, which could be either positive or negative. Service failure defines service performance that fails to meet the expectations and needs of a customer. Service failure or a company’s inability to meet client expectations leads to customer dissatisfaction and defection (Yi-Chen and Hassett, 2018). Examples of failed service experiences include low-quality services, employees’ rude behaviors, and late deliveries. This results in customers not receiving what they are promised when checking into a hotel, restaurant, or travel agency. According to Mattila and Ro (2008), failed delivery systems lead to the largest number of service failure cases. In case of a service failure, do customers proactively communicate with the service managers about them, and if so, what steps do the managers take to mend these problems and increase customer satisfaction. This report will research, analyze, and discuss whether customers proactively communicate about service failures to service managers and the steps undertaken for service recovery. It will include service failure and recovery, provide a real-life service failure experience, and recommend how the business could have handled the situation.

Service Failure

When visiting a hotel, lodging, or a bed-and-breakfast, customers expect to receive the best service or as promised by a specific establishment. Failure to meet customers’ expectations leads to complaints regarding the business. In some cases, if the service failure is high, customers proactively communicate with the service managers regarding the establishment’s inability to keep its promise or even meet the basic services (Yi-Chen and Hassett, 2018). Customers make lengthy reports regarding the quality of the services that had been promised versus what they received, reflecting their dissatisfaction (Snow (2010). Here, they make these complaints to receive compensation or get better services. Some customers do not bother to communicate with service managers regarding the failure of a hotel or an agency to provide quality services (Snow, 2010). Many businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry can provide better services. Therefore, some individuals do not waste their time complaining but check out from that establishment or agency and go to another business. According to Snow (2010), poor performance in a business also reflects leaders’ failure to manage the operations more effectively. With this in mind, businesses and managers should aim to provide better services even when they do not receive complaints since not all individuals want to waste their time going to court or seeking compensation.

Service Recovery

Customers most often react proactively to service failures (Shin et al., 201). Therefore, service managers or an entire business must take the necessary actions to mend their mistakes upon receiving a complaint. Service failure is common in the hospitality business; well, human error, too. However, recovering from such failures is challenging, and not many managers can handle the situation efficiently. 

Nevertheless, for every service failure, the service manager can take the necessary steps for service recovery. First, the service manager and other involved individuals should apologize and ask for the customers’ forgiveness (Shrestha, 2017). Here, after failing to provide the expected services, the manager can listen to the client attentively about what happened. After this, they apologize sincerely and genuinely. They can also provide the client with a full explanation of what led to the service failure. Secondly, the service manager should go over the complaint with the client (Shrestha, 2017). It is crucial always to analyze a complaint and find it is missing any information. This helps to understand and identify who caused the failure because, in some cases, the customers may be in the wrong and give false complaints. Here, the manager can also locate customers’ expectations and desires after experiencing the service failure.

The manager should then try to fix the problem and follow up with the results. The third step of service recovery involves trying to fix the failure with the most appropriate alternative and following up with the client (Shrestha, 2017). Here, the manager tries to determine if the establishment can improve or enhance the hotel’s quality of services or compensate for a client. If it is compensation, the business can refund or return the money for the services not met. Finally, the service manager should document and record the problem in detail (Shrestha, 2017). This step involves recording the complaints and problems experienced and staff members’ training for similar problems that may occur in the future. In other words, the experiences from the service failure inform the decision made regarding certain services and the training given to employees in a specific sector or department. According to Shrestha (2017), the most effective action for preventing service failure from recurring is documenting the problem experienced for thorough analysis and discussion during company meetings. 

Table 1

Service failure and recovery procedure

Service failure is common in hospitality businesses such as hotels, lodges, and hostels. Some of the common examples of service failures are as described in the table below. It also shows how establishment and managers can effectively approach and solve service failure.


Service Failure Service Recovery
Providing low-quality services to customers (Yi-Chen and Hassett, 2018) Apologize to customers (Shrestha, 2017)
Employees’ rude language and behaviors towards the clients Analyze or go through the complaint with the client
Late deliveries  Try to fix the problem using a suitable approach
Document the problem and measures taken


As illustrated in the table, service failure involves providing low-quality services, rude language and attitude towards customers, and late deliveries. Nonetheless, service can be solved by apologizing to involved clients, analyzing the complaint, fixing the problem, and documenting the procedure for future reference.

Marriot’s Service Failure

Mark Schaefer was a frequent customer of Marriott, but not so much nowadays. The reason being, Schaefer experienced one of the worst service failures that one could ever imagine. According to Schaefer, he had a horrible experience (Schaefer, 2018). In a report, he gives a clear overview of the unforgettable yet teachable experience. Schaefer was driving to Atlanta through a storm and had been driving for 12 hours while the night crept in. He was expecting a massive package for pre-reading for a meeting the next morning with a customer that was to be sent to Marriott hotel. But halfway to the hotel, he realized that the package had been delivered to the wrong Marriott while his reservation was 10 miles away in another Marriott hotel.

Schaefer decided to change or transfer his reservation to the hotel where his package was. He called the hotel to verify that the package was there and it was and also an extra available room. He asked to switch his reservation to that property, and the lady said yes and then put him on hold (Schaefer, 2018). After five minutes, she asked for his reservation number and told him to hold again. Schaefer was greatly disappointed when another person came on the line and asked if he wanted to make a reservation. At this point, Schaefer was confused and frustrated as the responder said that the one he had talked to had gone home for the night. He claimed that what Schaefer was requesting was beyond the services he could provide. Thus he could not help him. Schaefer called the central Marriott service, but they kept him on hold with a new person taking his call and asking if he wanted to make a reservation. One hour had already passed, and he decided to go to the hotel to pick up his package and then go back to his hotel (Schaefer, 2018). He also tweeted Marriott for help, but there was no response. The situation became worse when he reached the hotel and found no package, which they had confirmed was there less than two hours ago. There was no way for him to prepare for the meeting. He tweeted the hotel two more times consecutively, but there was no response, and when they responded a few days later, they became defensive. He also sent direct messages and emails to the customer service department, but there were no plausible replies. 

Failed Recovery Process

In consideration of the above experience, Marriott hotel has the worst service recovery procedures. It would be correct to say that they do not have any. There are a couple of things that the entity and its employees did wrong in response to service failure. Instead of emphasizing the customers’ needs, it considered those of the franchise owner. Customer satisfaction is the key element in the growth of a hospitality business, and failure to consider customers’ needs leads to low customer satisfaction. Secondly, it did not respond to Schaefer’s calls, direct messages, tweets, and emails concerning their service failure. This shows their negligence towards good business practices in customer service management and shows that they do not care about the customers’ needs or their perception about the establishment. Schaefer’s experience shows that the employees’ did not have adequate experience or skills to solve service failures. Employees, especially those at the reception and customer service department, come into contact with customers throughout the day through phone calls or physically. Their inability to solvice failures efficiently could lead to chaos within the business, ruin the company’s reputation, and affect customer satisfaction. The company was also not transparent on why it could not solve the problem or even respond to calls and tweets. They claimed that the entity had an overload of calls, but a later tweet showed a system outage. Lastly, the business did not follow up on Schaefer’s pleas for help through tweets, calls, messages, and emails. They did not check whether he got his problem solved or even if he got his package. Marriott is a big business, a major brand in the hospitality industry, but it is so broken. Though some of the employees apologized for the delays, they did not solve the problem.


Service failure is unavoidable due to system failures or inadequate resources at specific times. However, this does not mean that hotels and other hospitality industry establishments cannot do their level best to ensure that they meet customers’ needs. In Marriott’s case, the business should have tried to deliver the package to the original destination or help him change his reservation to the hotel where his package was. More specifically, I would recommend the business apply various steps and strategies to solve Schaefer’s problem. First, the hotel could have acknowledged the problem they had caused Schaefer by delivering the package to the wrong hotel and find ways to send it to the original destination. Here, it could have also found ways to help the customer pick or stay at the property where the package had been delivered. Secondly, the employees could have shown empathy, be patient, and solve the customer’s problem efficiently and timely. Thirdly, the business could have trained and driven employees on how to solve service failure issues immediately. This is essential as it reduces prolonged public exchange, mainly through online platforms such as Twitter, which could also influence other customers’ perceptions about the business. They should have coordinated well, communicated about Schaefer’s issue, and come up with solutions for the problem. Forth, they could have apologized and then found ways to minimize the consequences of their failed systems and unreliable delivery services and develop better ways to respond to customers and solve the issue at hand. Lastly, Marriott employees could have followed up with Schaefer’s case to apologize and assess what the company could do to make the customer feel better and appreciated. Follow-ups usually help to change customers’ perceptions about a specific business.


Service failure defines a business’s inability to meet customer expectations. Rude behaviors and inadequate delivery services may be examples of service failure in the hospitality and tourism industry. Depending on the situation, customers may or may not proactively communicate or report service failure to the service manager. Nonetheless, those who do most likely demand compensation or better services. A service manager can handle the recovery process by first apologizing to clients, analyzing the complaint, fixing the issue, and documenting the entire experience. Empathy and quick thinking may also be efficient solutions for handling failures and connecting with customers. However, taking the above steps would be most appropriate for managing service failure, especially in large businesses. This research will help businesses identify service failures experienced in their entity and know how to solve them. They could help to solve service failures in different settings, including that involving Schaefer and Marriott Hotel.



Mattila, A. S., & Ro, H. (2008). Customer satisfaction, service failure, and service recovery. Handbook of hospitality marketing management, 297-323.

Schaefer, M. (2018, August 7). Timeless customer service lessons from an epic Marriott fail. Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Shin, H., Ellinger, A. E., Mothersbaugh, D. L., & Reynolds, K. E. (2017). Employing proactive interaction for service failure prevention to improve customer service experiences. Journal of Service Theory and Practice.

Shrestha, S. (2017). Service failure and service recovery |

Snow, D. (2010). Customer Service Failure Equals Leadership Failure [Video]. YouTube.

Yi-Chen, Y. A. N. G., & Hassett, L. (2018). A Case Study of Service Failure and Recovery in Tourism within China Southern Airline. DEStech Transactions on Economics, Business, and Management (eced).