Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Your Front Desk Agent at the Hotel

Front Desk Agents have a hard job.

I dedicate this post to all those who currently work at a hotel's front desk or have worked at one in the past. I've done it, holding different positions and seeing it all come together from different angles, and I know it's not an easy job.
In my opinion, front desk agents are tremendously underpaid, given the amount of work, knowledge, decision making abilities, emotional and physical toll and offensive guest behavior they have to face.

As a guest, keep in mind what front desk agents "need to have, be and do" on a daily basis, for HOURS. Some may love their job, yet, we all know that too much of a thing is not ideal anyway.

  • They need to smile for 8 hours (if not longer), even if they have a headache, cramps, nausea or have already been working for 9 days straight
  • They need to be positive for 8 hours (if not longer), even though they know the hotel is fully booked, no rooms are available and they'll have to send you to the hotel across the street for the night
  • They should try to get along with all other agents, because management tries to cultivate team spirit and the ones who don't practice it won't get brownie points
  • They need to be able to anticipate your needs real fast when you're about 40 feet away from them walking towards the desk
  • They need to act as if you're right no matter what nonsense you're telling them
  • They need to magically make pool/garden view rooms appear to cater to your persistent wish even if there really are none available
  • They need to know about EVERYTHING that goes on in the hotel (restaurant hours, shuttle services, how the business center printer works (!), why the movies on demand are not working, what time the cute bartender starts his shift or why the airline lost your luggage)
  • They need to politely deal with guests who yell at them, who think they are stupid, incompetent and incapable of solving their "simple" problem
  • They need to endure the fact that, in the guest's view, it's their fault when the AC in the room is not working, because, of course, that agent chose that room for him! (not always the case!)
  • They are cursed at by upset, loud, inconvenienced guests, they are hit on by drunk, obnoxious people, they may witness naked people walk across the lobby at night and may have to help escort an almost comatose guest (drunk or drugged) to their room
  • They are not a bank (they may cash checks, but this service is limited)
  • They may have a lot of power, but when it comes to restaurant bills, please remember to deal with any discrepancies directly with the restaurant manager
  • They are most of the time really, really not at any fault if your 2 months pre-blocked room with a King connector facing the lake is taken by another guest
  • They are trained to do their job, but remember that not all establishments provide the same type of training for the same time duration
  • They have managers who not always stand by them. Remember, this is one of the worst things that can happen to you at work.

I know there are people who really are "natural" customer service agents. They love it and are great at it. They don't mind the often harsh environment and can actually, consistently have a positive attitude. They love their job and the guest interaction. I wish all agents had this in them. The real picture is painted differently, though. Remember that many agents are transitory in their position, aiming to spend "just some time" at the desk and hopefully move up to a higher position or a different department soon. Some others, are doing this as part of an internship and will be off the front desk in a few months. Some, need a job, and they really see it as just a job that has good extra benefits (hopefully, at least). Others, are starting out in the workplace and are trying out different things that may initially appeal to them, just to realize after a few months, they don't love the front desk so much as they thought.

Next time you stay at a hotel, remember that front desk agents don't have an easy job. You might be a great guest, but the guest just before you, might have made that agent who's serving you, cry.

I learned that empathy goes a long way. Have it. Use it.

Another thing to remember: NEVER think a front desk agent is less knowledgeable, less smart or less important than you are!

Have a wonderful stay!

...and thank you very much!


Anonymous said...

Holy crap... I am printing this off and sending this link to ALL my associates, they are going to love you! I sure do, thanks for the support... Let's train these travelers to behaive with some dignity! Love you!! Jen Bean, Denver

Leann said...

I am going to have to say Denise you hit that post right on the head! Every single thing you said is so true! It is a good thing to read and understand! Working at a Front Desk for over 2 years at a major Orlando hotel I can say pretty much all of those things happened to me!! :) Thanks for your great advice and spreading the word to those "non" hotel working people! :)


Thanx Denise, everything you said here was absolutely right. Being underpaid with so many responsibilities to bear is something that hotel employer should consider. I used to work in a hotel industry before and I really love the job. But with little pay and me planning to have a family, it is certainly no worth it. True hoteliers are people who actually smart, as they need to figure out people's need in an instant and fulfilling it without any hesitation. Job as a front desk agents are very challenging especially for those out there who may not know. We have to deal with different type of people, character, demands and you just name it...I am proud to be a hotelier before as I learn a lot about humans behavior and I even do my own research about people's behavior and it's origin...Well, I guess everything is related to each other and it does help me in handling with different types of guests..Definitely, I'll share this with everyone I know, and i hope they understand our job as hoteleir. Way to go girl...


Mouse's Mom said...

I just sent this to my staff. I am sure that at some point I have not stood by them when I should but I still really appreciate that job they do that allows me to go home and enjoy my daughter without a million calls from the hotel.

Reading this should be compulsory prior to check in!! :)

Mouse's Mom said...

I just emailed this to my staff. It is very likely that at some point I have not stood by them as I should, but I do so appreciate the work they do in order to make it so I can go home and enjoy time with my daughter without a million work calls into the evening/night hours. Each and every one of them rock!!

Reading this should be compulsory for all guests prior to check in!! ;)

CJ said...

I work in a hotel at the front desk, and I am pretty sure I love the person who wrote this. lol.

Truer words have not been spoken. Thank you and bless you, because, though I do love my job, it does get tiresome being yelled at, called names, treated like an inferior life form, and generally blamed for every little thing that goes wrong in the hotel.

I am going to print this out and hang it in the back office, so I have something I can smile at whenever I have to run back there to shed my smile and keep from throttling a particularly nasty or needy guest. lol.

Anonymous said...

Ive been searching the web to boost myself after weeks of dilemma at the hotel im working with. EVERYTHING you said is correct! I just hope that the management appreciate all the hardwork of their staff, hope that once in a while a simple recognition, a simple compliment will help us and feel that what were doing is being appreciated. We know that were getting paid for our job but if we are going above and beyond should a simple recognition too much to ask?