Why Good Front-of-House Helps Create a Successful Hotel
A good front-of-house team is a vital part of any hotel. They are normally the first point of contact for guests on arrival and the last people visitors see at the end of their stay. Columnist Jonathan Smith, general manager of Holiday Inn Express, Oxford Road, Manchester, explains why a professional and efficient front-of-house team is crucial and more importantly, how this can be achieved.
Everyone is aware that first impressions tend to be lasting impressions and when it comes to hotels, the same is true. Opinions are formed as soon as guests walk through the doors and more importantly during the first few moments of interaction they have with the hotel’s team members.
With this in mind, the appearance of the front-of-house team must be impeccable. Uniforms need to be clean, ironed and the correct size and where uniforms are not supplied, team members are obviously advised to wear smart clothing.
Even in a franchise hotel like the Holiday Inn Express, where team members have to adhere to set procedures and the front-of-house interaction with visitors is often scripted, added value and a personalised hotel experience can still be achieved.
Front-of-House: Local Knowledge
One way that hotels can go the extra mile is by ensuring that the front-of-house team has brilliant local knowledge of the surrounding area. Team members should be able to offer options for every scenario eg the best places to eat or visit, whether guests are entertaining a client or keeping the children amused. Front-of-house should also be able to direct visitors to specific locations and offer insight into public transport options. These are the nuggets of information that people truly appreciate, as it makes their stay easier and therefore more enjoyable.
Good customer service is essential in every industry and hospitality is definitely no exception. Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), the umbrella company of the Holiday Inn Express franchise, provides customer service training for all team members as part of their induction, but for hotels that don’t have access to formal training, here are a few key points to remember:
- Always have welcoming, friendly and confident body language
- Maintain good eye contact and posture (don’t slouch!)
- Advise team members on appropriate language and turn of phrase when addressing guests, keep it positive and helpful
- Teach team members the art of listening, to ensure that guest queries are answered fully and resolved where possible. This will avoid unnecessary frustration
In order to achieve the previously mentioned levels of service, team member buy-in and engagement are crucial.
It’s important for team members to enjoy their work, respect management and feel valued. One way to achieve this is via team building exercises, which are normally away from the workplace and are a fun morale booster. This isn’t required on a weekly basis, but it is a good idea to treat team members to an interesting excursion, such as bowling, once a quarter. Encouraging team member involvement in selecting the activities is also advisable.
For the last three years IHG has also undertaken ‘Celebrate Service Week’, which takes place for one week in the year and is an opportunity for management to say thank you to team members and show appreciation for the work they do.
The week consists of exercises such as ‘role swap’, where managers perform the tasks of their team members for the day. For example, managers may cook lunch for the employees. Managers can also do small, simple gestures like giving each team member a personalised thank you card along with a small token gift. It is vital to the smooth running of any hotel that employees know that management appreciates the importance of the work they do and that they are a vital part of the hotel.
Finally, remember a good, if not great, front-of-house team can transform an average hotel experience into a brilliant one. They ensure that guests have a memorable experience, which in turn will encourage repeat bookings.”
By Jonathan Smith