By Angel Lam Ko
Direct and Face-to-Face Customer Service work must be one of the most challenging roles out there. Especially when you are so good at your job, so well-trained and experienced, that Customers wrongly assume your Front Desk job is an easy one to do.
Angel Lam Ko (aka Facebooks Hugot Hotelier) has been working in the hotel industry ever since graduating from UP-Asian Institute of Tourism back in 2007. Here she gives us 10 Things Front Desk Agents Wish They Could Tell You.
1. “Requested” does not mean “guaranteed.”
Yes, we know you requested for two beds and a pool view on a high floor. Rest assured that your request has been well noted on your profile.
However, as much as our Front Desk Team tries its very best to grant each and every request of all our valued guests, please do not yell at us if the requested room features are not available. After all, we can only do so much, depending on what is available the moment you check in. If the guest in your preferred room checks out early, well and good. We’ll be more than happy to give you whatever your heart desires. But if not, please bear in mind that we probably looked at each and every possible room available that is closest to what you have requested, and that what we are offering you is the best that we have at the moment.
Let us try to come up with a win-win situation because shouting profanities at us will not make your preferred room type magically appear.
2. Even if you made your hotel booking three months ago, or heck even if it was a year ago, if you try to check in with us at 9:00 AM, we still would not have any rooms available for you.
Yes, we know you made the booking well in advance and yes, fully-paid and all.
Do not worry because your room accommodation is definitely guaranteed and in the system. However, please understand that our check-out time is at 12noon. So no matter how early you made your reservation, our Front Desk Team will most likely still have no rooms to give you before the normal check-in time. Sometimes we may be able to do so if the hotel is not full, we will be happy to check you in earlier than usual.
However, especially if we just came from a fully-booked situation, please give us some time to clean the rooms and get them nice and ready for you. Rest assured you are prioritized and that your reservation is not lost or cancelled just because we told you “we do not have rooms available yet at the moment.”
3. There is a nifty little feature in our system called “History”
Please do not try to trick us into believing that the Front Desk operative, who checked you in last time, upgraded you for free. Or that you did not have to give an incidental deposit last time. Or that we should give you preferential treatment because you stay in the hotel all the time.
We have access to every little detail of every stay you ever had with us. We can see your past billings, your payment details, your room history, the names of your companions, your requests, the time you checked in and checked out, and how many times you’ve stayed with us.
Please do not lie to us and force us to prove you wrong. In this day and age of technology, everything is documented and can be pulled up at the snap of a finger. Let’s be real, there is no need to resort to lying, just to get what you want.
Talk to us, we are actually very nice and flexible people, especially to those who are also nice to us.
4. The ruder you are to us, the slower we will move.
Tapping the counter in front of those of us on Front Desk, or snapping at us to “hurry up”, will have the exact opposite effect on us.
The key-card machine will suddenly stop working, the printer will run out of paper, and the computer will freeze. All other rooms will disappear except for the smallest one with the view of the parking roof.
For pleasant and patient guests, opportunities for room upgrades magically appear, the room with the best view suddenly becomes available and transactions run smooth as silk. After all, kindness really does have its magic.
5. When we ask you for a credit card, please do not give us a debit card.
It used to be so easy for Front Desk operatives to identify a Debit Card from a Credit Card, but these days the design has changed. An embossed card no longer automatically means Credit Card, and Debit Cards are not so easily identified anymore.
So when we ask you for a Credit Card upon check in, please do not give us a Debit Card or a Debit/Credit Card (“it works both ways”). We just want to hold a certain amount from your credit limit, not charge it outright, and when you give us a Debit Card and we do not notice, you also give us along with it a Memo, an Audit Finding, a Chargeback Transaction to take care of, an earful from our Manager and a huge headache.
Please spare us all and give us a Credit Card, or just pay in cash.
6. Please do not talk on your phone while checking in or out.
While we understand you are a busy person, please grant us at Front Desk Five minutes of your precious undivided attention so that we can facilitate your check in or check out process quickly and accurately.
There are not a lot of things more frustrating than trying to verify reservation details, or settling charges, with a person who won’t stop talking on the phone long enough to finish the transaction. Please give courtesy to the people behind you on the queue, and please help us serve you faster.
7. Adjacent ≠ Connecting
Please be clear at the point of reservation what exactly it is that you need. Let us avoid unnecessary vocabulary discussions at Front Desk during check-in.
If you ask us for adjacent rooms, we will give you rooms that are beside each other or close to each other. It does not mean that you will get rooms that have a door inside that connects both rooms. If that is what you want, please ask for connecting rooms.
Again, it would be best to note that these requests are subject to availability so better to indicate this well in advance so that your request will be prioritized.
8. Please do not cover the smoke detector in the room, just so you can enjoy a cigarette.
You will be surprised at how many people purposely commit this careless ‘mistake’.
Not only are you endangering your own life, but also the lives of hundreds of other guests and employees, should a fire in your room go undetected because you put a condom or plastic bag over the smoke detector. Smoke detectors are there for a reason, and tampering with it is strictly punishable by law.
Please spare everyone the potentially life-threatening scenario and ask your friendly hotel staff where the nearest smoking area is.
9. Trust us when we tell you what time you should leave for the airport.
It may be a surprise to you, but we know the local traffic conditions and the estimated travel time to the airport, better than you do. Not to mention the queuing time at the airport and any other potential hassles you may encounter before you can safely board your flight.
Trust us if we tell you to leave 2 hours, 3 hours, or sometimes even 5 hours before your flight, if the traffic condition is worse than usual. Please do not get angry at us, as if we are pulling these numbers from thin air. We are not trying to get rid of you nor are we spewing out random numbers of hours. This is based on years of commuting and braving the city’s horrendous traffic.
We just want to make sure that you will make it to your flight safe and sound, and not come back to the hotel hours later with your luggage asking us to book you another flight.
10. Be kind to your hotel service providers.
A little kindness goes a long way. Please bear in mind that while you may be on vacation, these people left their families at home to take care of your needs.
They may have been standing in their three-inch heels for eight hours and counting, and some of them probably have not yet had their lunch or dinner, if the hotel is really busy. They bend over backwards to give you a perfect stay, but they are not perfect human beings. They make mistakes, they get emotional, they get tired and stressed too. They have to deal with guests screaming in their faces, calling them names, cursing at them and sometimes even throwing things at them.
Your room rate does not include their dignity. Please treat your hotel service providers with respect and kindness, and watch them repay you with all these and more.
Front Desk Agents are some of the most patient, most polite, smartest and friendliest people you will encounter on any trip to a foreign city. Make a new friend in them and they will definitely make your stay the best it can be. After all, all they really want is for you to have a memorable, hassle-free and enjoyable stay in your “home away from home.” Respect, courtesy and appreciation of their work is all they wish, so that they can go home at the end of the day tired but happy, and fulfilled with a job well done.
Read Angel Lam Ko’s first piece for Your Hospitality Hub : 10 Reasons Why Hoteliers Make The Best Life Partners
Do you work on Front Desk? Do you have any other items to add to Angel’s list? Send us details at email@example.com and we can come up with a part 2 for this article.
Angel Lam Ko started her now famous Facebook Page Hugot Hotelier as an outlet for witty posts, observations and meme’s about the Hospitality Industry:
“I didn’t want to flood the timelines of my fb contacts especially those who are not hoteliers and may not be able to relate. I believe we can always approach any negative situation with a sense of humor, instead of griping about it and spreading bad vibes. I just find that laughing about it with your colleagues lightens the load significantly.
Hugot Hotelier just expanded the “colleagues” part to a super huge, and fun, group of people sharing the same sentiments,and taking comfort in the fact that we are not alone in this hotel craziness.
Hugot Hotelier has over 18,000 followers to date and has the funniest memes that have hoteliers laughing, relating, sharing and discussing.