As a hotel owner or manager, you spend a lot of time focusing on ensuring that your hotel makes the right impression on new guests. You clean the windows and front doors, spend money to keep the grounds professionally maintained, scrupulously clean the lobby and other spaces, and do so much more. However, if your hotel front office operations aren’t up to par, you could be sabotaging your efforts. Inefficient processes, redundancies, errors during check-in and check-out – these are just a few of the things that can derail your efforts and turn a would-be happy guest into someone who’s just biding their time until the stay is over. Not only might you have lost them as a guest in the future, but you also lose anyone who they might have sent your way via recommendations.
The good news is that there are simple, effective ways that you can optimize your front office department in the hotel. In this post, we’ll cover three things you can do that will have an immediate impact.
1. Know Your Guests
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to know your guests. This goes beyond knowing their name and the duration of their stay. Start with more practical information that can be applied directly to their stay, such as:
- Preferred view/side of the building
- Preferred room type/style
- Preferred bedding/number of pillows
- Food restrictions
- Preferences for room service/cleaning
Next, take things deeper. Get to know them and their party. Are they traveling with family? What are their children’s names and ages? Are they traveling with a pet? What is their name?
With this information, you empower your front desk staff to deliver a personalized experience that is outside your guests’ expectations. It’s about ensuring that your guests don’t feel like a room number. They’re someone, and your staff needs to recognize that from the moment they check-in.
You can incorporate this personal information into many other areas beyond the check-in/out process. Make sure that housekeeping has the guest’s preferences for cleaning/restocking, and ensure that room preferences are noted in the reservation system. You can take this even further by ensuring that guest information populates through other systems, including:
- Spa/salon services
- Concierge services
Finally, ensure that your staff members take the time to speak with each guest in more depth than what’s required to check in or out. Find out what they like and don’t like about their stay and then act to change things for the better.
2. Train Your Staff
The next item on our list is to make sure that your staff members are fully trained. This goes beyond the basics. Yes, they should be familiar with using your property management system, but you must do more.
It’s critical that your team members are empowered to make decisions on their own for the good of the guest. If a guest has a request and your staff must constantly check with managers to find out if it’s possible to accommodate that request, you’re degrading the overall experience. Instead, train your staff members so that they’re confident making these decisions themselves.
Doing so dramatically decreases the amount of time guests spend waiting for an answer, but also greatly improves the overall stay. Of course, this type of training can be challenging since owners and managers usually have very little time for face-to-face sessions. Thankfully, training for front office staff in hotels doesn’t have to be in-person, nor does it need to be led by managers or owners. With a PMS like Hotelogix, you can benefit from built-in remote training solutions to help you build your team’s expertise whenever it’s convenient.
Finally, give your employees room to grow. Instead of using reviews as punitive tools, use them to encourage growth and glean more information. What skills do they want to learn? Where do they want to go within the hotel? How can you support them?
It’s also important that managers and even owners keep learning. Follow industry trends, attend webinars and conferences about hotel technology and best practices – lead by example.
3. Customize Your Offers
Finally, it is important to customize your offers to individual guests. This doesn’t mean that you need to try to be something different for everyone, but it does mean that you need to go above and beyond to create appealing offers for each guest. How can you do that?
It comes back to the point we made early on – you need information about your guests. With that information, you can tailor what you offer to ensure that it fits their needs, expectation, and party/group very well. For instance, if you have a family of four coming to stay for a week with two young children, you can tailor your offerings to match by:
- Offering kid-friendly meals in your restaurant
- Offering experiences near the hotel suitable for kids and families
- Offering discounts to local family restaurants
- Offering unique in-room amenities, like access to Netflix with kid-friendly programming
You can do this with any guest. They don’t have to be traveling with children. Business travelers, couples, solo adventurers, seniors, pet owners – everyone has unique wants and needs. By learning about them, you gain the information necessary to create compelling, unique experiences that make your hotel stand out.
Ultimately, your hotel front office operations must be smooth, error-free, and guest-facing. It’s all about them, their expectations, and their stay. By gleaning important information, you will be able to tailor what you offer and deliver an experience that stands out for all the right reasons. It begins with your front office operations and management.
Of course, achieving this goal will require the right tools. Hotelogix offers automation of training through our A.C.E module, as well as your own web booking engine so that you can begin the process of getting to know your guests before they even arrive. Our powerful PMS stores all of this information for easy access and sharing so that you can send critical details to every department and deliver a seamless, positive experience that will have them ready to return and recommend your property to others.