Six Skills That Hotel Receptionists Must Have
Hotel receptionists play a critical role in managing the guest experience of your hotel. Your guests interact with your front desk multiple times throughout their stay. Hence, your front desk plays an important role in setting a positive initial impression.
If you want to make the most out of your hotel receptionists, they must possess the skills to best cater to the guest experience and increase guest satisfaction and retention. Here are six key skills that your hotel receptionists must have:
1. Dealing with various types of guests
Front desk work in hotels face a unique challenge of interacting with multiple types of demographics, including:
- Business owners, executives, and managers
- Politicians and diplomats
- Celebrities and influencers
- Groups of friends
- Families on vacation
Each guest also has a specific purpose for going to your hotel, such as:
- Having a place to stay the night for an event inside or near the hotel
- Going on a getaway
- Enjoying the hotel facilities
In other words, there is a wide variety of customers that your receptionists face on a regular basis; and they are responsible for ensuring a positive experience for your guests.
Ideally, catering to each type of guest may be more successful in leaving a positive impression on guests. However, this can be too difficult to maintain due to the volume of guests and other tasks. A more sustainable approach is to provide a consistent experience for every customer interaction.
Some ways to achieve this include:
- Memorizing a welcome greeting for guests
- Thanking guests who are checking out and inviting them to book again
- Talking about some of the services and facilities that the hotel offers
Experienced hotel receptionists have acquired this skill to varying degrees, but for best results, orient your entire receptionist team on the same set of protocols for consistency.
2. Deep knowledge of the hotel
A 2021 study on hotel customer satisfaction through online reviews confirmed that what gives guests a positive hotel experience is the complexity of the service, facilities, and image of the hotel. While you can achieve these factors with sufficient planning, hotel receptionists can play a critical role in maximizing customer satisfaction.
For instance, your receptionists can serve as the concierge of your hotel, and the surrounding community. Their interactions with guests go beyond the check-in or check-out process. Your guests will also look to them for information about the hotel. This is an excellent opportunity for your hotel receptionists to upsell facilities and services in the hotel.
Guest inquiries can be simple or complex. In any case, your hotel receptionists should have extensive knowledge of your hotel. A few examples of information they should know are:
- Number and types of rooms available
- Availability of certain hotel amenities
- Menu items of your hotel restaurant
- Landmarks near the hotel
By helping out inquiring guests, your receptionists can achieve higher profit for your hotel by upselling hotel amenities.
3. Administrative skills
Hotel receptionists can work on administrative tasks to help organize and streamline the backend of the hotel. Assigning this work to your receptionists can enhance their ROI, especially during low traffic.
Some tasks they can do include:
- Answering phone calls
- Responding to emails
- Moderating social media inquiries
- Updating hotel visitor management system
4. Maintaining a positive ambiance
Your receptionists serve as the frontline of your hotel. Hence, they are vital in nurturing a positive ambiance for your guests. This is an essential facet of front desk staff regardless of any industry. However, it becomes crucial in hospitality, especially since part of a hotel’s success is in how well it makes guests feel welcome.
Guest receptionists can do this in basic and effective methods like:
- Positive body language (keeping a smile, maintaining eye contact, etc.)
- Engaging in brief, casual conversation while the guest is waiting
- Maintaining the cleanliness of the front desk
The most effective and viable way, however, is to encourage a positive lifestyle for your front desk staff. It’s important for receptionists to be a friendly face to guests. However, staying a friendly face is another story.
Front desk work tends to be stressful, especially during busy days. Being tired can make it challenging for receptionists to foster a positive experience. This can make them force themselves into creating a welcoming environment and may lead to poor performance in the long run.
To prevent this, look for ways you can help them manage their stress. A highly effective strategy is holding an open forum on how you can alleviate their stress while maintaining productivity.
5. Dealing with complex situations
Another vital role that guest receptionists have as the frontline is the peacemaker. Guest complaints in hotels can range from inconvenient to significant and affect customer retention. Some issues include:
- Accidental double bookings
- Reservations with no available guest room
- Reserving the wrong suite
- Noise complaints
- Lost items in the room while the guest was away
Typically, there should be policies and protocols in place with the proper departments in charge of resolving these problems. However, your front desk staff is among the first who enforces these guidelines.
Their role is two-part:
- Translate and convey the relevant policies to guests while assuring them of a solution.
- Relieve the tension and revert the situation to the department/s in charge.
Thus, it’s necessary that your hotel receptionists know the proper protocols in the event of complex situations. The main challenge is in breaking the ice for your guests. It may be insufficient to only tell them that a solution is coming, as some guests may be too impatient to wait.
Instead, you can orient your receptionists to propose potential solutions to the guest. This can resolve the tension quickly and leave a positive impression on guests. Some examples of scenarios include:
- If the guest’s booked room is unavailable, moving them to a higher-tier suite without additional charge
- Immediately moving to refund the guest for an accidental double booking
- Calling hotel security to investigate cases of lost belongings while guests were away
To achieve this, your hotel receptionists must also possess problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.
6. Maintaining consistent performance
Front desk work may be tedious due to various tasks and demands over long hours. This is significantly more challenging for hotel receptionists since it’s crucial for them to avoid mistakes such as:
- Providing guests with wrong information about hotel amenities
- Giving the incorrect room keys
- Notifying the wrong customers about their check-out time
These errors can diminish the customer experience, as guests expect their stay to be seamless and stress-free. However, that impression usually starts with their first interaction, which often occurs with your hotel receptionists. It’s vital, therefore, that the front desk receptionists in your hotel stay on top of their game and deliver a lasting first impression on your guests.
One of the most effective solutions is to have a balanced shifting schedule for your front desk team. This schedule should comprise of three sets of receptionists, each working under one of the following shifts:
- Day shift (7 AM – 3 PM)
- Afternoon shift (3 PM – 11 PM)
- Night shift (11 PM – 7 AM)
Ideally, this arrangement can provide full front desk coverage while minimizing burnout for your receptionists. Unfortunately, it still involves some drawbacks such as:
- Higher compensation expenses due to a larger headcount
- Finding the most suitable receptionists who are amenable to certain shifts
- Having backup receptionists on standby in the event of sudden absences
Even if you can work around these challenges, the tiring nature of front desk work can result in inconsistent performance due to lower energy levels. Factors such as travel time and personal emergencies can affect your receptionists’ performance and are often beyond your control.
How to maximize your hotel receptionists
Say you’ve hired the most well-suited hotel receptionists while having an effective work setup for the team. Even under these circumstances, there are still ways to make the most out of your receptionists. One of the most effective solutions: letting your receptionists work from home. A WFH option is more than a one-sided benefit for your receptionists. In fact, there are numerous benefits you can reap from making your front desk staff work remotely.
For example, remote work removes the need to travel to the location, which may let your hotel receptionists work more consistently due to having much more energy. Another significant advantage is that a single virtual front desk team can manage multiple front desks simultaneously. This can reduce HR expenses by having a lower headcount while maximizing the ROI of your current receptionists.
In hospitality, having a single team of your best guest receptionists handle all your locations can be very cost-effective and increase your bottom line. However, to reap these benefits, you need a virtual live-streaming receptionist platform like WelcomeWare to enable your front desk to go fully virtual.
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