Whenever someone walks into the lobby of your hotel, the very first point of contact is typically the front desk. The front desk staff are the gatekeepers; they’re the ones with the ability to make or break a guest’s experience with a conversation, their actions, and their overall demeanor. Your front desk doesn’t have to tap dance on rainbows to please people, but it certainly helps if your staff is equipped with the tools to go above and beyond – because every guest interaction matters.
Continuing education in people skills is critical to the life of your hotel’s long-term health because there will be complaints, there will be rescheduling rooms, and whatever else happens in the wilderness that is working with a variety of people, all of the time. Count on smoothing over some sticky situations, too.
Whoever is representing your hotel is the ambassador for the brand, for management, and for the overall staying experience.
Managing the front desk can get complicated, and whoever takes up the challenge has to be ready to rise to the occasion both when it gets busy and when the day just isn’t going well.
Invest in your guests
There’s a reason it’s called the “hospitality” industry. Everyone who’s working the front desk needs to be a guest expert, someone who knows how to make an immediate introduction with warmth to let the guest know that the hotel actually kind of cares about them and hopes the stay goes well. Pretty simple. Funny, a lot of hotels manage to screw this part up.
It’s critical to gather information from the jump, to get a basic understanding of the guest, along with their needs. The front desk doesn’t need to get a full-blown CIA dossier, but the basics are a good start:
- Prior stay history
- Food preferences if room service is available
- Stay purpose
- Anything relevant to current stay
It’s also important to read the room, pay attention if the guest has kids, or looks worn out. If the guest has kids, suggest any relevant information:
- Does the hotel have a commissary for snacks?
- Is a grocery store nearby?
- Is a restaurant close that’s good for little ones?
- Does the hotel have a pool or play area?
Because you’ve done the background work, this makes the guest experience run smoother, and they’ll feel more at home.
Be better than Yelp
One of the most significant transitions in the hospitality culture is that people are hyper-focused on local. People want to do things native to the area. If there’s a killer pancake house, nine times out of ten, they’d rather go there instead of a chain. Guests ask where the best spots to eat in town are all the time, so make it a priority that the front desk knows where to get a burger or where to have a beer. A serious way to level this up is by partnering with local businesses to offer a discount; in the end, it could pay off huge for both companies.
Never stop training
To be great at anything, the best realize that training is never over. While some employees might not understand the need for continued training, reinforcing good habits leads to better guest interactions.
Create a front desk bible
Outline everything important that someone could possibly deal with and put it in here. State that this is a protocol guide should a situation come up, including best practices along with FAQs. This should be kept behind the desk at all times. Instead of a panicked phone call to management, referencing this book reinforces self-sufficient behavior.
Work with an outside trainer
Just like the corporate world, a lot of hospitality management companies are bringing in outside trainers to offer a different point of view on customer service along with customer management. There are also software options managers can buy that does this to a certain degree, as well.
With the rise of options like Airbnb and other on-site travel possibilities, hotels and hotel management need to stay sharp. Being ahead of the trends, but also focusing on the here and now, is critical for success. And it all starts with your front desk. If you liked this blog, check out the other pieces here. We’d love to know what you think.