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May 26, 2015

If someone would have surveyed hotel managers 15 or 20 years ago about the future role of their front desk staff, my guess is that most would have predicted that their jobs would have become much less relevant by now due to all of anticipated technologies.  Yet when we look at the position today, it is easy to see that ironically with all of the high-tech advancements, nothing has yet to replace the personalized service experiences delivered by today's front desk colleagues.  Certainly it will be interesting to see how the latest push towards automated, self-check-in options now moving to smartphones will be received over the long run.  Although guests have overwhelmingly rejected previous attempts such as kiosk check-in stations, perhaps they will finally embrace this new method.  Even if they do, my guess is that the role of front desk will still be an essential one in delivering memorable hospitality experiences.

Smart hotel managers know that training is the key to front desk success.  Being in the hotel front desk training business, it is ironic to me that the hotels that are already doing the best job, that have the best service levels in place, and that are already topping the rankings of review sites like TripAdvisor, seem to be the hotels that are also the most likely to invest in even more training from companies like mine.  When I look-up most of our hotel front desk training clients on TripAdvisor they always seem to be at or near the top.

If you are looking to provide your hotel front desk guest reception team with training to help your hotel actualize its full potential to deliver an extraordinary level of excellence on a daily basis, here are some topics from our programs to include in your training plans.

  • Pre-arrival planning.  When taking reservations, or when guests call directly after booking but prior to arrival, does your staff properly document requests and special needs? Do your front desk colleagues routinely look through the day's arrivals in advance and then block rooms and otherwise prepare for their arrival?  Do your reception agents read through their arrivals list at the start of each shift to look for familiar names of regular guests so they can greet them by name before it is provided?
  • Properly welcoming guests.  Are your front of the house colleagues trained to properly welcome guests upon arrival with warm remarks, and not to simply ask "Checking in?" "Hi guys!" or "Do you have a reservation?" 
  • Recognizing in-house groups and functions.  Similarly, do your front desk colleagues read through their events list so that they are immediately familiar with groups, meetings, functions and events being held that day?  
  • Guest empathy.  Have you trained your staff to better understand why guests travel to your hotel, and that there is more to a guest's purpose than "business" or "leisure?"   Have you discussed all of the frustrations that guests can encounter en route and therefore our need to turn things around for them? 
  • Providing local area insider's tips.  Have you trained your team to be able to provide local insider's tips, such as driving shortcuts and best routes to avoid traffic, directions to office parks and local area attractions, points of interest such as entertainment and dining options?
  • Assisting with special needs.  Do your front desk colleagues know how to assist guests who have special needs, especially those related to dietary or medical concerns? Can they direct them to the nearest vegetarian or Kosher restaurant? Do they know where guests can rent medical devices or find the nearest 24 hour pharmacy or dental emergency clinic?  Are they prepared for medical emergencies such as choking and CPR?  
  • Service recovery.  Have you trained your front desk to truly welcome complaints as opportunities, and the importance of encouraging guests to give sincere and honest feedback directly versus posting it on social media or guest review sites?

By including these items on your new hire training and ongoing recurrent training checklists you will be providing your colleagues with the tools they need to create hospitality experiences that will encourage positive guest reviews, social media postings and foster guest loyalty.

About Doug Kennedy

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry's conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug's monthly hotel industry training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hotel industry training authors in the world. He is the author of Still On The Road to Sales and Guest Service Excellence. Visit KTN at: www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com or email him directly: doug@kennedytrainingnetwork.com

Contact: Doug Kennedy

doug@kennedytrainingnetwork.com / Office: 954.981.7689; Mobile: 954.558.4777

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