Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 12

Day 12: Mirror Mirror

            Guests like to ask the front desk staff for ludicrous requests and bits of information. Examples include, exchange rates for Finland, requests to cut their hair, and how to pack a bow and arrow set for flights. My coworker and I developed two different approaches to dealing with ridiculous guests. My approach is to slow my speech, appear doe eyed, and act stupid. I figure that the guest already thinks that I am young and stupid, so I play up this fact.
            My coworker developed the perfect mechanism to cope with guests. She mimics them. She adopts their speech patterns and cadence. If they are loud and boisterous, then she is loud and boisterous. If they are overly sweet and condescending, then she is overly sweet and condescending. The results are amazing. Once the guests hear themselves reflected in her speech, they change into a normal speaking voice. 
            Often I wonder if the guests know that they sound ridiculous. She proves that even the guests don’t like to spoken to in the way that they speak to us.

Below is an example of a conversation between a front desk staff and a guest.


Hope that this aids your survival.
            Good luck. Godspeed.

Day 11

Click on the video and then read post.

Day 11: Patience is the Lost Virtue.

            There are times when the front desk staff will feel self-conscious. The guest will trick you into thinking that you are slow or unreasonable.
            When the guests check into the hotel, they immediately expect a long an arduous process, yet unless the guest is interrupting our flow my coworker and I rarely provide an inefficient check in experience. We have achieved thousands of efficient check-ins, yet the guests perceive it as our first time. We do not waste time. We anticipate your questions and needs.  The average check- in takes us about 40 seconds. If the guest is as attentive as they expect the staff to be, the check-in should have no problems.
            Inevitably a guest will stand at the desk and throw their credit card at the front desk person, and then tap their fingers on the marble counter as though we are taking too long and wasting their time. The staff must not feel self-conscious. Any purchase at a fast food establishment will take longer than our check-in. In fact, our check-in process lasts as long as the video above. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 10

Day 10: Sometimes Hyde keeps Jekyll under control.

            We have already discussed how quickly a guest can turn on the staff, but the in between phase can be quite rewarding. One of the pleasures of working in a business hotel is that here are plenty of regulars. The staff gets to know the guests and their families quite well and vice versa. We ask about their sons’ baseball games and in turn they ask about our university exams.
            Some are even nice enough to bring back snacks for the staff on their way back from dinner. There are even those singular situations where a friendly guest will bring a more substantial gift for the staff, usually in the form of chocolate. Yesterday was one of those occasions.
            A very nice man who stays at our hotel 3 days a week for the last several years presented that staff with a nice card and baked confections. Imagine delicious donut holes injected with custard and covered in chocolate. The staff was astounded. Not only is this guest always friendly and never complains, he brings us thank you gifts.

            Of course, we must always still vigilant of the tipping point where he might forget that we are human and explode all over us. Until that time comes, life is good.

Hope that this aids your survival.
Good luck. Godspeed.

Day 9

Day 9: Motivation for the least.

In these tough economical times most luxuries and incentives have been stripped from the staff. The hotel owners often state that they would like the staff to “sell out”, but there is the opposite of an incentive to do so. Why would the staff sell every last room when we don’t have maintenance on call and trouble seems to run rampant?
Often people will come in without a reservation and try to negotiate the price with the front desk staff. They are under the impression that the staff has any desire to sell every last room. We barely have any desire to sell a single room. When the staff encounters a person who has no reservation and tries to bargain, we only see another guest who is going to cause us problems. Their $180 is not worth it. The staff does not even see any benefit in this transaction. It is just putting more money into the pocket of the individuals who took away any incentive.
It should be noted that this sentiment is only reserved for those who are confused about our motivation. We still want to do our job. It the guest who are confused as to what our job entails. We have no qualms about selling you a room, and will not deny you a room. However, if you allow your ego to drive the conversation, the staff has no motivation to stoke your ego. That is all.

Hope that this aids your survival.
Good luck. Godspeed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 8

Day 8: Rude on the Cellular Level

            There are times when the staff will wonder, “what did your mother teach you?” The guests can be so rude it begs the question if they consider the staff human. One example of this rude streak in guests concerns their cell phone etiquette.
            Guests have a tendency to walk up to front desk with either a Bluetooth headset or cell phone pressed against their ear. If they decide to continue their call uninterrupted and signal the staff to wait, because they’re on the phone, they will most likely proceed to stand at the front desk and continue their conversation at the front desk. They will stand there, talking in the staff’s faces about whatever they deem important. We do not care to hear your conversation. Move away from the desk. In almost every other situation the person who is subjected to your phone call can move away from you, but we are trapped behind the desk. You can move.
They also will try to juggle both the phone conversation and their interaction with the staff. Since the staff cannot hear the other side of the conversation, we inevitably interrupt each other and the guests don’t really listen to the staff. Do they understand that in doing so, the guests are demeaning the staff? These same guests will come down later with many questions because they were not paying attention to the staff. It will cause the staff to want to rip the phone out of their hands and call their mother and question her as to why he raised such a rude person. The guests are communicating that the staff are not really the same level of human that they are, and then they wonder why the staff just treats them like just a room number.

            As the staff, we must understand that the guests have probably dealt with a high volume of service industry soldiers and their experiences will vary. The guests have probably encountered a number of rude associates (frankly, I have worked with some), but this is one instance where the excuse of past occurrences doesn’t really apply.  


Day 7

Day 7: Buyer Beware

            In the hospitality industry, we know that the guests expect us to know and do everything for them. We know that once they are on the road, the lose all abilities to help themselves and rely heavily on the staff. The staff cannot perform magic. There are just some things that we cannot do.  There are services that the hotel provides that the hotel does not provide. We are the middle- man. We handle the transactions and the guest, but do not perform the service. An example of such an instance is dry cleaning. Since the hotel does not have dry cleaning facilities on property, and guest demand was so high, the hotel decided to connect the two together. The transaction traditionally works as such: the guest hands us their dry cleaning on their way to work, we hand it to the driver from the cleaners, they bring it back once finished with a receipt, we charge the guest the amount on the receipt, and then turn around and give that amount to the cleaners.
            The other day there was a deviation from the standard transaction. Every once in a while a guest will grumble about the prices of the dry cleaning services, but since we do not set theses prices there is nothing that the staff can do. The other day, a man sent out a large round table cloth to be dry cleaned. On the pricing list there is no category for such a request, but the guest needed it done. When the item returned, the guest was furious at the bill. To dry clean his large, round table cloth the cleaners had charged him $100. It should be noted that the guest did not call the cleaners to get an estimate as is logical. He placed the order under the assumption that the cost would fall in a range that he found acceptable. We did not charge him. The cleaners charged him.
            The guest’s reaction was as follows: first he screamed at the front desk staff, then explained that he did not blame the hotel staff on the second day, then blame the hotel staff on the third day. On the fourth he was just curt with the staff. Management decided to pay the entire cost and file it under guest service recovery. Guest service recovery is also known throughout the hospitality industry as “get this guest out of my fucking face before I slap him, just compensate him because the emotional anguish that he is causing me is greater than the dollar amount.”

            If you are a fellow guest service soldier, remember the power of the guest service recovery, but do not over estimate it. It will not fully get rid of the guest, only placate them. You must wait until they go back home, and even then they still might hassle you over the phone. Sometimes there really is no other way except patience.

Hope that this aids your survival.
Good luck. Godspeed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 6

Day 6: System Failure.

            Technology is a wonderful thing. The staff knows how helpful it can be, but every once in a while it decides to malfunction. Computers will malfunction and systems will fail, at the worst time. When all of the computers are down is precisely the moment guest burst through the doors in throngs, each with an emergency that needs to be handled right away.
            The most important things to do is breathe, call tech support, and apologize. Remember I is never your fault, even the guest will make it seem that it is. The system will return to normal, but the guests never will. In every situation where the staff has no control, the guest will place the entire blame on the staff.

Hope that this aids your survival.
Good luck. Godspeed.