Working in tourism is my choice. One of the perks of the job is meeting all manner of interesting people and being a part of their (hopefully lovely) holidays. When my guests are happy and thanking me for a wonderful time they've been having through my services it fills me with joy and makes my job way more rewarding than what the sheer financial consequence of it would suggest. Having said this and gotten it out of the way, the remainder of the text will not be about all the good people I get to meet. Quite the opposite.
Even though you will get to hear plenty of definitions of a “bad guest” out there, most of which are nothing more than a result of someone's frustration with his/her own inability to provide satisfactory service, make no mistake, there is such a thing as universally bad guests.
These are not people who got frustrated because of a bad day or those who made a mistake when booking and gave you the wrong details of their arrival time, or anything similar. These are people who are actively looking for a conflict with the service provider, are deliberately trying to degrade or insult those who are trying to provide the service, or are trying to defraud or lie in order to get a price cut or avoid paying for the service altogether. Through my career, I've seen pretty much all types. In fact, in a few of the jobs I've held, I was the go-to guy for all the problematic guests. It's not (just) because I look threatening, it's because I can stay calm while dealing with abuse. Staying calm is the key for most cases like this.
Talking about one's guests outside of the inner circle of professionals who are dealing with said guests is rightfully frowned upon within the tourism sector. It is never ok to make public anyone’s “dirty laundry”. This is why I am not going to mention any specific cases I've dealt with. So, why am I writing about this anyway? I guess, because it truly is somewhat of a taboo in professional circles and I’d like the public to know that every once in a while, the customer is indeed wrong.
Every year there are thousands of new tourism workers in Croatia. Some are on this path because they truly want to be, some are trying it out, and some think this is easy money and are drawn by few months of vacation during winter. To the latter I recommend quitting right away and finding another job. Tourism is neither easy nor will time off during winter make up for insanely long hours, stress, or missed birthdays, anniversaries, and time spent with family or friends. All the rest going into this have to know that sometimes when you work with people, you get to see them at their worst. It goes with the territory. It doesn't happen all that often in most positions within the industry. I don't deal with horror guests on a regular basis. In fact, I rarely do. However, when you do, the experience tends to stick with you. If you want to remain professional, you are often forced to swallow your pride and your rage and act opposite of your natural instincts. Is there a silver lining? Yes, of course. Remember the first paragraph... there are plenty of good people out there and it is a pleasure working with them.
Those seeking some sort of revenge for being mistreated will probably be disappointed. Often times nightmare guests will simply go away and you will never get an apology or admittance of bad treatment. This might seem unfair, but if you really need some sort of payback, remember, there is always a reason why someone is acting like an intolerable jerk, and it is never a nice one. Whatever makes someone a horrible person to deal with will undoubtedly hurt them in the long run. The only thing crucial to remember is not to let bad experiences change who you are and how you approach people. There must be some sort of professional separation between your work and you as a person. If I ever find out how to separate the two, I will be sure to let you all know.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.