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Chapter 6: Communications & Guest Services

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Chapter 6: Communications & Guest Services

  1. 1. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Competencies for Communications and Guest Services 1. Describe front office procedures for communicating with guests, and describe communications between the front office and other hotel areas. 2. Identify typical service requests that guests make at the front desk, and describe general approaches to handling guest complaints. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 1
  2. 2. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Front Office Communications • Guest communications • Transaction file • Information directory • Reader board • Group résumé book/file • Mail and package handling • Telecommunications services Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 2
  3. 3. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Guest Communications • No communication is more important in a hotel than the communication between front office staff members and guests. • The hotel must present a professional, positive image to guests in all of its communications. • When answering the telephone, staff members should provide a warm and informative greeting to callers, not neglecting to introduce themselves and asking how they can be of help. • In face-to-face communication, staff members must include appropriate body language and eye contact along with their use of professional language, tone of voice, and demeanor. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 3
  4. 4. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Transaction File • To have a record of important events and decisions during previous work shifts, front desk agents maintain an automated transaction file (or non-automated log book). • A transaction file is a chronological journal that lists unusual events, guest complaints or requests, and other relevant information. • Entries may be made to the transaction file throughout a work shift. • Before beginning a shift, front desk personnel should review the transaction file, noting any current activities, situations that require follow-up, or potential problems. Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 4a
  5. 5. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Transaction File Continued from previous slide… • Entries should detail what happened, why, and when, as well as who is making the entry (in case questions arise). • Once a guest request or problem has been handled, an entry should be made detailing how the situation was resolved. • Transaction files help managers understand the activity of the front desk staff and presents a documented record of issues that may reveal patterns that, after careful analysis, can lead to solutions. • Rapid response software can help staff members record, track, and complete guest service requests. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 4b
  6. 6. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Information Directory • An information directory typically contains the following information: • Area maps • Taxi telephone numbers • Airline telephone numbers • Bank locations • Theater locations Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 5a
  7. 7. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Information Directory Continued from previous slide… • Church locations • Shopping locations • Restaurant locations/menus • Special events schedules • Some hotels have installed automated information terminals or kiosks in their lobbies and other public areas, for guests to directly access the types of information found in information directories Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 5b
  8. 8. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Reader Board • Reader boards provide a schedule of daily events at the hotel • Today, this information may be found on display screens or in-room televisions rather than traditional reader boards • Information on a reader board usually includes: • The names of the groups staying at the hotel • The groups’ meeting rooms, agendas, and meeting times • Digital reader boards may be placed near the front desk, in elevators, in the lobby, and in the meeting room section of the hotel • At some hotels, the electronic reader board system is interfaced with the sales/catering system, so that information may be updated by the sales/catering staff as well as the front desk staff Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 6
  9. 9. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Group Résumé Book/File • Common in convention hotels, group résumé books or files contain information for each group staying in the hotel, such as group activities, billing instructions, key attendees, recreational arrangements, arrival and departure patterns, and other important information • Many hotels make the group résumé book/file required reading for front desk and uniformed staff at the beginning of each work shift • Front desk staff members should use the group résumé/file to become familiar with all incoming groups • The group résumé book/file should be kept current and be easily accessible to front desk staff Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 7
  10. 10. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Mail and Package Handling • Guests rely on the front office to relay delivered mail and packages quickly and efficiently. • Hotel policies for handling mail and packages are usually based on the policies and regulations supplied by the U.S. Postal Service. • Typically, front office staff members are expected to time-stamp all guest mail when it arrives. • When mail and packages arrive for guests, front desk records should be checked to verify that those guests are currently registered, are due to check in, or have checked out. There are different mail/package handling procedures for each of these three circumstances. Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 8a
  11. 11. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Mail and Package Handling Continued from previous slide… • Registered guests: Mail/packages for registered guests should be time-stamped and held at the front office in a secure area; these guests should be promptly notified. • Guests due to check in: Mail/packages for guests due to check in should be time-stamped and held until the guests check in, with a notation made on each guest’s reservation record. • Guests who have checked out: Mail/packages should be time-stamped and returned to their senders, or to a forwarding address if the guest left one with the hotel. • Mail/packages requiring a signature upon delivery: Some hotels allow front desk personnel to sign for such items on behalf of guests; sometimes only the guest can sign for an item, in which case the guest must be contacted and, if not found, notified that a delivery attempt was made. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 8b
  12. 12. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Telecommunications Services • In-room local and long-distance telephone service • Telephone messages • Voice mailboxes • Broadcast messages for groups • Facsimiles • Wake-up services • E-mail and data services • TDDs • Call broadcast Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 9
  13. 13. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services In-Room Local and Long-Distance Telephone Service • Historically, hotels have provided in-room local and long-distance telephone service twenty-four hours a day. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 10
  14. 14. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Telephone Messages • Telephone messages taken by front desk staff should be time-stamped and relayed to the guestroom phone or maintained at the front desk for arriving guests. • If guestroom phones are equipped with a message indicator light, the front desk agent should switch on this light to alert guests that a message is waiting for pickup. • The hotel’s telephone system may be programmed to automatically turn on the guestroom message light when it receives a voice mail message. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 11
  15. 15. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Voice Mailboxes • Devices that can record spoken messages for guests. • Callers wishing to leave a voice mail message simply speak into the phone when prompted; the message is recorded by the voice mailbox system. • To retrieve a message, the guest typically presses a designated telephone key or enters an access code; the recorded message is then played. • A major advantage of voice mail is that the message is captured in the caller’s voice. • Voice mail offers improved confidentiality of messages. • If a hotel has a voice mail system, front desk agents or hotel telephone operators do not have to try to interpret unclear messages left with them by callers. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 12
  16. 16. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Broadcast Messages for Groups • A hotel telephone system with a group broadcast feature makes it possible for guestrooms associated with a specific group to automatically receive the same special message simultaneously. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 13
  17. 17. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Facsimiles • Facsimiles or faxes are usually treated like mail, but with special care, as guests are often waiting for faxes. • If a fax has special delivery instructions, such as “deliver immediately to Meeting Room X,” those instructions should be followed. • If no special delivery instructions are provided, the front desk staff may store the fax and turn on the message light in the guestroom or otherwise notify the guest of the fax. • Faxes are automatically time-stamped and do not come in an envelope (the hotel may have a policy of putting faxes in envelopes before delivery to guests). Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 14a
  18. 18. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Facsimiles Continued from previous slide… • Faxes should be treated as confidential; hotel staff should never read a fax. • Front desk agents should record when the guest was notified of the fax and when the guest picked up the fax. • If a fax is undeliverable, the hotel should immediately notify the sender. • Most hotels charge guests to send faxes, since there are telecommunication costs involved. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 14b
  19. 19. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Wake-Up Services • Front desk agents must pay special attention to wake-up call requests. • Front office mechanical or automated systems can remind front desk agents to place wake-up calls, or an automated system may be programmed to place the calls and play a recorded wake-up message. Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 15a
  20. 20. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Wake-Up Services Continued from previous slide… • Despite advances in technology, some hotels may prefer that front desk agents or telephone operators make wake-up calls, to provide a more personal touch. • Typically, the clock relied upon for wake-up-call purposes is the hotel clock; therefore, this clock should be checked regularly to ensure that it is correct. • In some hotels, guests can dial a special telephone extension from the guestroom phone and follow the instructions provided by the system to request an automated wake-up call. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 15b
  21. 21. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services E-Mail and Data Services • Most hotel guests have business and personal e-mail accounts or company data files that they need to access while traveling. • Guests with a laptop, notebook, or mobile device can use the hotel’s high-speed Internet access in their guestrooms or the hotel’s public areas to connect to the web, if the hotel offers that service. • Guests may use a guestroom telephone line as a data port. • Hotels may provide e-mail/data services for free or may charge a fee. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 16
  22. 22. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services TDDs • A TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf) is a specially designed piece of equipment for placing and conducting telephone calls. • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that hotels make available, upon request, a TDD for use by guests who request one. • The front desk should have a TDD device to handle in-house calls from hearing- or speech-impaired guests. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 17
  23. 23. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Call Broadcast • A call broadcast feature allows the hotel’s telephone system to place calls to all occupied guestrooms simultaneously, or to a designated group of rooms. • In emergencies, a call broadcast capability allows management to place calls to all occupied guestrooms simultaneously to alert guests. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 18
  24. 24. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Interdepartmental Communications • Many services in a hotel require coordination between the front office staff and staff in other hotel areas. Typically, the front desk staff communicates the most with: • Housekeeping • Engineering and maintenance • Revenue centers • Marketing and public relations Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 19
  25. 25. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Housekeeping • The housekeeping staff and front office staff must keep each other informed of changes in guestroom status. • The more familiar the front office staff is with housekeeping procedures, and vice versa, the smoother the relationship will be between the two departments. • Housekeeping personnel must know the status of every room, along with any guest requests. Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 20a
  26. 26. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Housekeeping Continued from previous slide… • Most hotels have property management systems that can communicate room status through workstations and mobile devices used by housekeeping staff. • Front desk agents usually telephone housekeeping staff members when they receive special guest requests. • The front office manager and housekeeping manager should meet frequently to review upcoming hotel activities and coordinate their guest service efforts. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 20b
  27. 27. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Engineering and Maintenance • In many hotels, engineering and maintenance personnel begin each shift by examining the front office log book or specialty software for repair work orders. • Hotels may use a multiple-part work order form or a real-time data entry system to report maintenance problems. • When work is completed, the engineering and maintenance staff informs the department that filed the work request order. • If a maintenance problem renders a room unsalable, housekeeping staff must be informed immediately when the problem is resolved so the room can be readied for sale and placed back in the rooms inventory. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 21
  28. 28. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Revenue Centers • Dining rooms, snack bars, and specialty restaurants • Bars, lounges, and nightclubs • Room service operations • Business centers • Dry cleaning/valet service • Vending machines • Gift shops, barbershops, and newsstands • Banquet, meeting, and catering facilities Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 22a
  29. 29. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Revenue Centers Continued from previous slide… • Local and long-distance telephone service • Health clubs, golf courses, and exercise rooms • Car rentals, limousine services, and tours • Casinos and gaming activities • Pay-per-view television movies • In-room entertainment (video games, web TV) • Valet parking and parking garages Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 22b
  30. 30. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Marketing and Public Relations • Front office staff should be among the first to know about events the hotel schedules for publicity. • In many ways, the effectiveness of a hotel’s marketing and public relations efforts depends on the participation and enthusiasm of front office staff. • Front office staff members may contribute to hotel newsletters, guest history files, and customized registration and check-out processes that can greatly help personalize services for returning guests. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 23
  31. 31. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Guest Services • The front desk is responsible for coordinating guest services. • Typical guest services involve providing information, providing special equipment and supplies, and responding to other special requests. • Requests that fall outside the front office’s responsibility should be quickly referred to the appropriate person or department. • A growing number of hotels employ a concierge or other designated staff member to handle guest requests. • Some hotels have centralized guest service centers; guests dial a designated number or press a button on their guestroom telephone to place requests that the service center staff then handles. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 24
  32. 32. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Equipment and Supplies • Guests may request special equipment and/or supplies while making a reservation, at the time of registration, or during occupancy. • Reservations agents should have a reliable method for recording special requests, to ensure that they are properly met. • After registration, a guest who needs special equipment or supplies will almost always contact the front desk, which in turn contacts the appropriate service center or department. Continued Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 25a
  33. 33. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Equipment and Supplies Continued from previous slide… • Front desk agents should have alternate ways of meeting guest requests when the department that normally handles the request is closed or inaccessible (i.e., agents may be given access to housekeeping supplies during late-night hours). • Equipment and supplies commonly requested by guests include: rollaway beds/cribs, additional linens/pillows, irons and ironing boards, additional clothes hangers, audiovisual and office equipment, high-speed Internet connectors, and special equipment for guests with disabilities. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 25b
  34. 34. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Special Procedures • Guests may ask for special considerations when making a reservation or at any point during their stay. • Reservations and front desk agents must have a reliable method of recording special guest requests. • Meeting some guest requests may call for exceptions to standard front office procedures. • Special guest requests may include requesting a split folio or a master folio. • Some hotels assign a concierge to handle special requests, or may have a centralized guest service center. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 26
  35. 35. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Guest Relations • Despite front office efficiency and attentiveness, guests will occasionally be disappointed or find fault with something or someone in the front office. • The high visibility of front office staff members means that they are usually the first to learn of guest complaints. • Front office staff should be especially attentive to guests with complaints and seek a timely and satisfactory resolution. • When guests find it easy to express their opinions, both the front office staff and the guests benefit: the front office staff learns of potential or actual problems and has the opportunity to resolve them quickly and keep guests happy; the guests receive attentive service and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their complaints resolved. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 27
  36. 36. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Categories of Guest Complaints • Mechanical • Attitudinal • Service-related • Unusual Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 28
  37. 37. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Mechanical Complaints • Involve hotel equipment malfunctions. • Typically include problems with guestroom climate controls, lighting, electricity, furnishings, ice and vending machines, door keys, plumbing, TVs, and elevators. • Using a work order system can help reduce the frequency of mechanical complaints. • It is essential that staff members with the right skills be dispatched as quickly as possible with the proper tools to correct mechanical problems. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 29
  38. 38. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Attitudinal Complaints • Guests may make attitudinal complaints when they feel they have been poorly treated by hotel staff members or overhear inappropriate staff conversations. • Guests should not be exposed to employees arguing, or become sounding boards for employee problems; hotel managers, not guests, should listen and attend to employee complaints and problems. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 30
  39. 39. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Service-Related Complaints • Guests make service-related complaints when they experience a problem with hotel service. • Service-related complaints can be wide-ranging and can include complaints about long lines, lack of assistance from staff, untidy guestrooms, missed wake-up calls, ill-prepared food, and so on. • Staff members typically receive more service-related requests when the hotel is operating at or near capacity. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 31
  40. 40. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Unusual Complaints • Staff members may receive unusual complaints about circumstances over which they have little or no control. • Unusual guest complaints include complaints about the lack of a hotel swimming pool, lack of public transportation in the local community, bad weather, etc. • Staff members should be trained to listen patiently to unusual requests and respond with appropriate guest-relations techniques (i.e., remain patient, friendly, and sympathetic). Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 32
  41. 41. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Identifying Complaints • Complaints may be identified by reviewing a properly kept front office transaction file. • Guest comment cards, online surveys, and questionnaires may also help managers identify guest complaints. Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 33
  42. 42. Chapter 6: Communications and Guest Services Handling Complaints • Listen • Isolate the guest from other guests • Stay calm • Preserve the guest’s self-esteem • Give undivided attention to the guest • Take notes • Tell guest what can be done • Set a timeline for action • Monitor progress • Follow up Managing Front Office Operations PowerPoint 34

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