Ways To Improve Hotel Front Desk Operations
The person sitting behind the front desk at your small hotel or bed and breakfast is, in many respects, the face and voice of your business. This is the person who will greet each guest as they arrive, provide customized service and personalized recommendations, attempt to resolve any issues on the spot, and know when to get you or a supervisor involved.
Because the front desk staff plays such a pivotal role in your overall operations, it’s important to make sure that the team is always operating at peak efficiency. The following post offers several ways to improve hotel front desk operations.
1. Hire the Right Staff for Your Front Desk
The first step in improving your front desk operations at your hotel or inn is to hire the right people for the job. The front desk hosts a unique position that requires dedication and flexibility, and it's important that you select the right candidate. You should look for a front desk staff member who:
- Has a friendly personality and is willing to work with people from all walks of life. A front desk manager should be patient, understanding, and willing to go above and beyond to resolve any issues that may unexpectedly arise.
- Has experience working with hotel technology, such as a property management system. Your team at the front desk needs to be capable of using your systems efficiently and effectively.
- Has a proven work ethic. Your front desk team needs to show up on time and be ready to work, as guests are relying upon these employees to guide them through their stay.
2. Implement an Intuitive Property Management System
On any given day, the people who work at your front desk are going to have to manage a variety of tasks. In order to give their full attention to your guests, you need to provide an intuitive property management system that automates many of their administrative tasks. Your property management system should include features that are catered to your bed & breakfast or hotel property, such as:
- Online booking
- Secure online payments
- Rate management
- Email automation
These features can help prevent your front desk team from being bogged down with return phone calls, manual inventory updates, and confirmation emails. Instead, they can focus more on serving the people who are currently staying at your property.
3. Offer In-Depth Training for Your Staff
By investing in your staff and offering in-depth training, you can empower your team to provide the best possible customer service to your guests. Not only should you train your staff effectively when you hire them, but you should also offer continuous training throughout their employment.
If you take the time to train your staff and give them a chance to develop new skills, they are likely to feel more valued and respected. Creating a culture where your staff is respected should equal an increase in your employee retention rates and improve longevity and satisfaction among your staff. Not to mention referrals for future open positions, which can be a great way to build your team.
Some training ideas that you could consider are:
- Communications training, so that employees know how to address concerns, answer questions, and foster relationships with guests.
- Soft skills training, including programs that focus on character building or career growth within your organization. Soft skills training can help your employees perform better at the front desk while simultaneously allowing them to gain knowledge and information that they can use to better themselves.
- Detailed training on what they’ll need to manage your property management system and other technology. Provide any standard operating procedures or user guides and consider reaching out to your vendors to see if they offer training resources for new users.
4. Create a Prioritized, Daily Task List
Whether your bed and breakfast has one front desk staff member or your hotel has a team of four people, it's important to have a prioritized, daily task list that keeps everyone on track. This task list can help increase efficiency and consistency among your front desk staff, and should ensure that daily operations run smoothly — no matter what surprise circumstances arise. It is important that you provide your front desk staff with a clear and concise list of expectations, as well as give them room to be flexible should they encounter an issue with a guest.
Need help getting started with what to focus on? We've got a great article and free resource for creating your business checklist.
Tip: If you can create task lists for other time intervals, that can be really helpful, too! Are there certain tasks that you need to have happen weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc? Document them so you and your team never miss a beat.
5. Encourage Staff to Know the Guests Before They Arrive
Your front desk staff should be armed with the information that they need in order to treat every person who walks through the door as a regular customer. Now more than ever, consumers expect a personalized experience with the businesses they support. In fact, this Epsilon study from 2018 shows that 80% of respondents would be more likely to do business with a company that offers personalization. It's safe to say the expectations are even higher when it comes to hospitality-related companies.
Your property management system should collect information that can be used to help your front desk team get to know your guests, such as previous stays, demographic data, and information about their goals for their trip.
For example, if a couple is celebrating an anniversary, this should be noted in the PMS and your front desk team should acknowledge this milestone upon their arrival. By encouraging your staff to research each guest before their arrival, you can increase the number of "wow moments" that you offer, which can impress your guests and lead to favorable reviews.
Tip: When your staff is taking phone reservations or perhaps contacting guests pre-arrival, train them to ask the reason for their stay if it’s not already noted. Little touches can go a long way to making every guest feel like a VIP.
6. Help Your Staff Become Local Experts
If you are looking for innovative ideas for hotel front desk training, then consider helping your employees become tourists in your own town. Your front desk team is likely to be asked to give recommendations for the best restaurants in the area, the most authentic tours, and the most beautiful places to watch the sunset. Ensure that they are local experts and reward them with immersive experiences in your region. A few ideas that you could consider include:
- Booking a local city tour, so that your team can have first-hand experience to share with your guests.
- Taking your employees to dinner at local restaurants in town, so that they can describe their favorite meals to the guests who are staying with you.
- Giving your staff an afternoon off to take a hike along a nearby nature trail or spend a few hours relaxing at a local beach. Allow them to live like a tourist so that they can give insightful information to your guests.
Tip: It can also be helpful to get involved with your local tourism groups, so you’re in the know and can be top of mind when they have travelers asking for recommendations. Get your staff involved, so they can build relationships and keep an eye on local event calendars.
7. Solicit Feedback From Guests and Implement Changes
In addition to empowering your staff, you also need to provide your guests with an opportunity to have a voice. You should actively solicit feedback from your guests after their stay in order to learn more about what they liked and where they would like to see changes. If you notice a pattern, make the changes accordingly. Adapt your policies and procedures so that your guests can tell that you are listening to what they have to say.
Knowing how to improve front office operations in your hotel can help you create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere from the moment your guests step through the door. The front desk staff should feel like a trusted friend of every guest that you host, particularly if you pride yourself on offering an intimate experience at your boutique hotel or bed and breakfast.
At ThinkReservations, we offer an intuitive property management system that can automate many of the tasks that your front desk team has to accomplish on a daily basis, allowing them to focus on their customer service efforts. For more information about how ThinkReservations can revolutionize your front desk operations, begin your free demo today.