|by Doug Kennedy, Februrary 2007
With all of the advances in property management systems and other front desk technology, from a service-efficiency perspective the check-in process at most of today’s hotels is running smoother than ever. Newer systems make it easer and faster then ever before for a front office associate to find an available room; credit card approval happens almost instantaneously, and I can’t remember the last time my reservation was lost or misfiled.
Yet as much technical skills and front office systems have improved, the check-in process itself has de-evolved into a scripted, robotic and heartless business transaction at most hotels these days.
If my recent experiences in traveling to 20+ hotels in the last 90 days is any indication, this trend is apparent at hotels representing all market segments. For me, the welcome I receive (or don’t receive) at the front desk has nothing to do with the number of stars or diamonds hanging on the plaque behind the front desk. Only three of these 20+ times can I honestly say I was properly welcomed on arrival at the end of my journey; once at a two-star hotel and once at a four-star property, while I had visited hotels from economy segment to luxury.
Granted most of the others were overall polite and efficient, except for the 6 minute interaction I had at the front desk of a 4-star hotel in Washington, DC, during which my entire interaction was limited to her saying following seven words:
In fact “Checking-in?” seems to be the overwhelmingly most common phrase used to greet arriving guests these days. (Although there seems to be a new trend for desk clerks to simply use the gesture of a raised eyebrow and a nod to find out your name.) How silly the question “Checking-in?” must seem to an arriving guest, as he or she stands in the lobby, luggage en tow and credit card in hand. I’m sure more than one guest has been tempted, as I have, to reply sarcastically “No, I’m not checking-in, I just stopped by the front desk lobby with my luggage to check out your artwork. I’m actually a connoisseur of hotel lobby artwork and I heard you had some great pieces in your collection here.”
When you think about it, one can’t blame the staff for this. The reality is that most front desk associates receive little if any exposure to the concept of hospitality; most training is centered on working the front desk computer, reservations system, and telephone switchboard. Considering the overall state of “manners” (or lack thereof) in today’s real-world society, we just cannot assume new-hires possess the social and interpersonal communications skills they need to relate to guests who are likely from a different socio-economic background, age group, and geographic region.
If you are ready to help your front desk staff re-master the lost art of properly welcoming guests upon arrival at the front desk, here are some training tips for your next staff meeting:
Welcome EVERY Guest Upon Arrival. Make sure no one starts any transactions before first using a sincere, proper welcome such as “Good afternoon, welcome to Anybrand Hotel. How are you today sir?”With all of the many distractions today’s hotel GM’s have, such as spending two hours a day answering e-mails from the corporate office and checking for the latest TripAdvisory posting, it’s easy to understand things have come to be where they are. Yet by training your staff on tips and tactics such as these, you can once again master the lost art of extending the generous and authentic gift of hospitality at check-in.
|Also See:||Speaking of Hotel Rooms: When You Turn The Lights Off They All Look The Same / Doug Kennedy / December 2006|
|Train Your Front Desk To Overcome Challenges of Fielding Reservations Calls At The Front Desk / Doug Kennedy / October 2006|
|The Hotels Reservations Sales Process; Today’s Callers Want a Personalized and Customized Experience / Doug Kennedy / October 2006|
|It’s Time To Give Hotel Guests What They REALLY Need and Want Daily! Key Basics Some Hotels Still Fall Short On / Doug Kennedy / September 2006|
|Have You Listened To What Your Hotel Sales and Reservations Agents Are Saying To Real Customers? / Doug Kennedy / August 2006|
|Next Step In Revenue Optimization: Train Your Front Desk and Reservations Staff To “Maintain The Rate Fences” / Doug Kennedy / July 2006|
|Beyond “Outrageous,” and “Legendary” Customer Service Training: Creating “Ordinary Excellence, Daily!” / Doug Kennedy / June 2006|
|The Politics of Revenue Management / Doug Kennedy / June 2006|
|Hotel Sales “Steps” and “Processes” Are Out; Today’s Inquiry Caller’s Want A Personalized Sales Experience / Doug Kennedy / June 2006|