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Front desk hospitality training can generate future business
Guests who have a positive experience at check-in are certain to be more understanding later, if/when they have objections or complaints later during their stay. In other words if they have a good experience at the front desk, they will be much more forgiving later when a room service tray is delivered late, when the air conditioning breaks, or when a housekeeping request is overlooked.
Contrarily, guests who have a negative first impression can become hyper-critical; they will spend the rest of their stay almost looking for things to add to their "list," which they will giving to their attorney first thing on Monday!
When I was ascending the ranks of hotel management years ago we were always told that an unhappy guest tells 9-10 other people. Now in the era of consumer generated media and social networking, the potential reach of "word of mouth advertising" is much greater. The potential negative (or positive) impact of a guest review at TripAdvisor, or even a posting at someone's Facebook or Myspace page, is almost unimaginable compared to days of old when we only had to worry about someone telling their friends and neighbors.
Unfortunately, just as it always has, most training that takes place these days at the front desk is still of the "on-the-job" variety with little or no direct involvement from upper and mid-level management. Instead, the budding new front desk superstars spend their first day shadowing whichever veteran staff member happens to be working that day; someone who likely has no training skills and few if any training resources.
Do you remember the game of "Telephone" or "Whisper down the lane" we all played as kids whereby the first person would be told a story and then would have to pass it on to the next player, who would pass it to the next, etc....? Do you remember how much the story changes after having been passed to just three or four people? Using this analogy, it is easy to imagine how important procedures, standards, and processes don't get properly communicated to the new staff and thus eventually erode over time.
It is also easy to imagine why the turnover is so high for the front desk staff position in particular; especially when you think about how frustrating this situation can be for a newly hired, career minded associates most of whom want to do their very best, having survived the extensive pre-employment screening processes most hotels have in place and thus having proven they "...really do love working with people!"
Hotel managers in today's era need to recognize how important it is to properly indoctrinate new staff, especially those at the front desk, and to have a formalized process in place for both new-hire and ongoing training.
Here are some suggestions for new-hire training at the front desk:
Here are suggestions for ongoing training of existing front desk staff:
Above all, make sure your management team knows that we can't and won't ever "find" the time to conduct front desk hospitality training; instead we must make training a priority and somehow carve out the time - even a few budget dollars for training resources. Even my fifth grader could do the math and calculate that the potential revenue impact of even just one positive guest review or social media entry will easy cover the investment in training.
His articles have also appeared worldwide in more than 17 prominent international publications including the HSMAI Marketing Review, eHotelier, 4hoteliers, Hotel News Resource, Hotel Online, Human Assets - Dubai and Hong Kong, Hsyndicate worldwide, BAHA Times – U.K., Hospitality – Maldives, and the Hotel Expert Magazine Hong Kong. Since 1996 Doug has been a regular contributor to the lodging industry's number one rated publication, www.hotelmotel.com , where he has been a regular monthly columnist since 2001. Visit www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com for details or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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