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Best Practices for a Hotel's Front Desk Manager

by Morgan Rush

A hotel’s front desk plays the key role of establishing a positive first impression with guests. Travelers may approach the front desk feeling tired, stressed or uncertain of their surroundings. An inept, unfriendly or lackadaisical front desk environment sets the stage for an unhappy customer experience. Front desk managers can circumvent a domino effect of complaints by creating a positive, productive, welcome experience for guests. Learning and sharing best practices helps front desk managers improve their hospitality approach.

Establishing and Training Norms

Effective front desk managers don’t assume that the hotel’s hospitality philosophy or norms are inherently shared by staff members. Expectations should be explicitly articulated, with the front desk manager leading by example. Training staff members in expected hospitality gestures or processes creates consistency, creating a seamless professional backdrop for guests’ experiences, according to Hospitality Careers. Rather than immediately dismissing underperforming employees, strong front desk managers will coach or retrain them to improve their skills, since recruiting new workers takes time and money.

Looking Sharp: Credibility and Authority

When people feel like they look great, they exude more confidence and professionalism. Hotel front desk managers look for ways to reinforce professionalism among staff members so that they feel self-assured, confident and engaged. This translates to better customer service, creating happier, satisfied hotel guests, according to Hotel Business Review. Prominently displaying a full-length mirror in the staff room, or hanging photos of staff members dressed to the nines in full hotel uniform, reminds front desk employees that they hold a powerful position on the hotel’s front lines. Additionally, customers tend to complain less when faced with employees in full uniform, compared to more informal clothing.

Subtle Upselling for Enhanced Experiences

Some travelers book reservations online, opting for the cheapest or most readily available room with the click of a button. Effective hotel front desk managers recognize that check-in is the perfect opportunity to pitch a better package to guests. Bigger rooms, sweeter amenities or extra activities can all help the hotel’s bottom line while creating a better overall experience for guests, according to Hospitality Net. Front desk managers can try incentive perks for staff members who upgrade guests to more expensive suites, creating larger revenues for the hotel while rewarding employees for going the extra mile. If cash bonuses aren’t an option, top upgrade sellers can receive plaques, preferential parking, gift cards or meals with top hotel administrators.

Act Like a Local

Offering restaurant recommendations is old hat for front desk staff members, but effective front desk managers take it a step further by incorporating a strong local spirit to build better relationships with visitors, according to Hotel Management. Managers can train employees to offer snippets from their own local experiences to make recommendations that resonate with guests. For example, mentioning that you stopped by a particular café with your niece last weekend for their toasted-rice tea and house-made marmalade is more effective than handing out a map. Customers feel like they’re being let in on “locals-only” secrets. Larger hotels might have numbers of employees from outside the city, or out-of-state; managers should encourage them to explore their new town or arrange for reduced-price experiences to make this more reasonable.

About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images