Most hotels miss a golden opportunity with their hotel receptionists. Instead of viewing them as revenue generators, they tie their worth to data entry. The majority of the data to come through a hotel (checkins and checkouts, reservations, room assignments, payment verification, etc.) are handled by reception staff. Instead of being a true guest-facing role, front desk staff are actually back officer personnel that been brought to the front and asked to perform their duties in front of an audience, often at unsociable hours when staff may be tired. Mistakes are bound to happen, and when they do, they impact the guest’s stay directly, creating short-term pain and long-term lost loyalty. This is a waste of our receptionists’ time and talent, especially when hoteliers have at their disposal software to automatically compile reservation data, occupancy reports, bills, invoices and more. Having an automated process not only helps improve the margin of error but also allows hoteliers to make informed decisions more quickly.
More importantly, automating such tasks also frees up hotel staff to engage with guests.
Consider this: Guests can use software to order room service or answer questions about hypoallergenic pillows, but they can’t use it to have a conversation about local architecture tours or art exhibitions. However, a great staff member can and will have these conversations and will also find opportunities to upsell the guest. They will go above and beyond to give the guest a unique experience, and this will in turn help create a more loyal customer.
We all know that a loyal customer is one of the most valuable assets a hotel owns. Repeat customers have a higher average spend and are more likely to purchase upsells because they’ve already “bought into” what your brand is selling. The sector has long been wise to the power of loyalty, with massive growth in loyalty programs. The largest merger in the sector, between Marriott and Starwood, was motivated by the thought of the combined loyalty program. According to a Deloitte study, once a Millennial business traveler establishes allegiance to one brand loyalty program, he or she will pay up to $41 more per night and drive up to 15 minutes out of his or her way to stay with that brand. Thus, a receptionist or concierge that contributes meaningfully to customer loyalty can become one of the key revenue drivers for your brand. Now, what if you could do that without the attendant costs of a loyalty program? It’s possible if you motivate your staff to create loyal guests and then reward them when they do. This might mean paying your front desk staff significantly more than the $12 hourly wage they’re receiving now.
Receptionists with time for the guest used to be the domain of the luxury space. By adding more automation, even hotels designed to have minimal staffing (a growing trend triggered by a lack of people working in the sector) can offer personalized, more profitable service.