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Whether a hotel guest leaves happy or discontented depends in large part on how well the front desk team does its job. A large hotel's front desk staff can include several desk clerks or receptionists, a concierge, bell staff, a reservations manager, a telephone operator, a shuttle van driver and a night auditor; smaller properties may only employ desk clerks and a night auditor. Front desk supervisors train, schedule and coach the desk clerks, while setting the example for performance standards. They also step in to resolve difficult guest issues and personally attend to VIP arrivals. This service-oriented position has one main objective: To maximize hotel revenue by exceeding guest expectations.
Guest Relations Expert
To be a front desk supervisor, you must have a proven ability to deal with people from all backgrounds in pleasant and unpleasant situations. Your overriding goal becomes making sure the impression imparted to guests reflects favorably on the hotel. In addition to a courteous demeanor, the position requires an ability to deal with stress and remain calm under trying situations, such as when groups of guests descend on the front desk at once, each person needing special attention. A knack for juggling priorities, switching gears to focus on a particular issue and making decisions under pressure raises the level of service you can provide and sets an example for your team.
Effective front desk supervisors understand the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication to employee and guest relations -- it can determine the hotel's success. By keeping the lines of communication open with other departments that influence front desk operations, such as housekeeping, sales and marketing and engineering, supervisors further support customer service. For example, they can avoid assigning rooms when housekeeping has scheduled carpet cleaning, or coordinate room blocking requests for a sales and marketing customer. As a front desk supervisor, you must keep the desk clerks informed about guests, issues and the day's agenda, and demonstrate an ability to explain assignments and policies. You also apply your talent for using tone of voice, eye contact and posture to convey sincerity and customer respect.
A front desk supervisor's ability to train and coach the desk clerks determines the hotel's success in delivering hospitality. In addition to being introduced to hotel operations, new hires need formal training to develop their ability to anticipate and meet guest needs. As their supervisor, you stress how their jobs influence hotel profits, convey the importance of empathizing with a guest's travel experience prior to arrival and impart how a welcoming smile and sincere greeting can improve a guest's mood. The informal, on-the-job training you conduct involves teaching the procedures for check-in, check-out, handling cash and confidentiality. You also train your staff on how to use telephone and computer systems.
The hotel's computer system serves as the front desk's nerve center. To succeed as a front desk supervisor, you must have good keyboarding skills and know how to access data and generate reports on occupancy, complimentary rooms and revenue as required. Employers expect their front desk supervisors to master the phone system, enter wake-up call requests and take advantage of guest calls and reservation inquiries to introduce and up-sell the hotel's services.
- HCareers: Why Your Hotel Front Desk Manager Is One of Your Most Important Hires
- Hotel Front Office Management; James A. Bardi
- Principles of Hotel Front Office Operations; Sue Baker et al.
- Principles of Management for the Hospitality Industry; Dana Tesone
- Hotel Management: Front-Desk Hospitality Training Can Generate Future Business
Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.