Front Desk Challenges (II) Training vs Hiring

When working at a Hotel Front Desk, we all know that we are the presentation of our property; we are the guest’s first contact upon arrival so that the way we do the check in represents the guest’s first impression.

This is a quite big responsibility.

But on the other hand, Hotel Front Desk involves different challenges apart from the main one (the guests); I already talked about treating drunk guests in the first post of this series. Today I would like to introduce the second challenge.

What is more difficult? Training the current employees to renovate a procedure or hiring a new employee for the company?

Challenges when hiring new employees

Hiring a new Front Desk Agent involves tasks like professional research, professional selection, developing inducting process, and additionally, taking risks.

  • Professional research will be done according to the Front Desk Agent’s Job Description. It means that it will be important to make a proper description of the tasks that the position will involve; this will make life easier both for candidates to understand what they are asked to do and for hotels to know if the candidate’s profile is adequate or not.
  • Professional selection involves the evaluation of candidates’ profiles and searching for the best one among what we have preselected.
  • Inducting process are not less important that a proper professional research. We may think about creating activities that let the new employee being easily and quickly adapted to the new team. In an ideal scenario, the company can involve the whole staff in inducting new employees.
  • Evaluating the performance of our candidates will let us know if we have found what we were looking for or if, on the contrary, we still have to keep searching.

Hiring challenges at the Front Desk - Hotelsbyjavier.com

Whether we are searching a Front Desk Agent whether we look for an Assistant Manager, every single professional research involves taking risks. We must accept that searching, selecting, inducting and evaluating new employees means that we risk our time (if the candidate is finally not adequate) and our money (hiring process are not for free)

Challenges when training new employees

When talking about training, we may take into account that we take fewer risks than when we hire new employees. Training will involve tasks like developing process, communication process and evaluation process.

Training challenges - Hotelsbyjavier.com

When I talk about developing I refer to thinking about what we are doing (Point A), what we could do instead (Point B) and what we need to do to go from A to B.

We may review any organizational chart, any procedure, any result that we think it could help to find out what can be improved. Point B needs to be imagined how things would be, how results could be improved, how procedures could change. The path from A to B is only doable if we are able to make real what we have thought.

In this case, we count on the employees that know each other and know the company they work for. Within a good training process, a good communication process will be needed: tasks like teaching, motivating and encouraging people by showing them that by doing so, results will be better, job will be more comfortable, etc.

We may add a final step when implementing new procedures: evaluation. If we need to implement new procedures properly, we will have to rate if what we have obtained is better / worst / the same than before; we will have to evaluate if the procedures are applied as we need, in order to detect any divergence; at the end of the process of evaluation, we will be able to decide whether is worth to keep the new procedure or if is better to return to point A and start thinking again.

What is more difficult?

Once we have analysed the core of a Human Resources policy, we may ask ourselves if it is more difficult to hire than to train employees.

In my opinion, a good Human Resources policy must balance hiring with training. It is not worth to keep our staff without any kind of learning, updating knowledge or improving performances (in summary, without what in some languages is called “recycling”)

As well as it is not worth to not to be able to hiring employees when we approach a seasonal peak. It is obvious that we work for an Industry that faces many types of unexpected situations… for example, our staff can unexpectedly leave the company so that we will be forced to engage staff quickly (and not good enough, probably)

We must take into account that both hiring and training involve different challenges. It means that we will have to make different efforts to face each one; both hiring and training are really difficult in a different way.

But in my opinion, if we analyse a perfect model (in which a front desk has the ideal front desk agents), training the agents is much less expensive than hiring new front desk agents. If we count on the ideal front desk agents, professional  people that know and apply the procedures with accuracy and efficacity… try to find a candidate that is able to develop a performance with the same level of quality. You will need to spend time (and money, do not forget about money) to reach the same level of accuracy… and you will need to wait until the new front desk agents are able to provide customer service with the same level.

However, this is not what it really happens in general. Have you ever realised the high turnover rate that exists in general at the Front Desk? Well, there are many reasons why the employees come and go in a Front Desk quite often; I will not analyse them today, because it is a matter a personal choice, personal priorities, career choices, career opportunities…

My question is: if hiring a new employee is much more expensive than training your actual employees (in terms of money, in terms of time, in terms of organisation) why do not we try to reduce this “turnover rate“? I am sure that if the management is able to find professional agents whose performance is high, it will be possible to reduce human resources costs by creating internal “professional development” programs that let these people develop their qualities and improve their skills.

Javier Guijarro Segado
www.hotelsbyjavier.com
fjavierguise@gmail.com


RECOMMENDED READING: “The cost of turnover; Putting a price on the learning curve”, Timothy R. Hinkin & J. Bruce Tracey (Scholarly Commons of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration)

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Front Desk challenges (I) Facing drunk guests

When we work at the Front of the House in a business that is opened all day long, sooner or later we will have to face a guest that has drunk too much.

We have the right not to serve a guest that is drunk. This right protects the safety of the staff and the wellness of the other guests, and is taken into account in all the hotels I have heard about. This means that normally, even if we face the trouble (occasional drunk guests) we are protected.

Theoretically.

Reality is more complex. There are many factors that will condition the situation in many different ways, and there is only a piece of advice that is completely true: “there is no magic recipe”.

It is easier to avoid a drunk guest coming in, than to expulse a drunk guest when he is already in.

This is the most evident conclusion; but what to do when the guest has drunk in our property? May the guest have a room booked for tonight, so he does not need to leave the property even if he is drunk.

We face a very delicate situation: this kind of guests is very difficult to deal with. Room Service orders cumulate by a guest that menaces with making a scandal if the server does not harry up. This guest will become even angrier if we answer him “sorry Sir, but I am afraid we got rid of… (Whatever)” You may imagine the answer if what we answer him is that we simply refuse to serve him anymore tonight.

We receive some insults from the other side of the line. The guest booked the room few months ago, as many other people, so it is not possible for us just to simply “refusing” this guest in our property. We need to be patient; we need to wait and to manage the situation in the best possible way.

When the night ends, the day lights announce the end of a very difficult night. The stress is over and it is time for us to think about what happened.

We need to make a strong effort to avoid drunk guests, in order to minimize the risks of dealing the trouble that this kind of guests can generate. In case we cannot expulse a guest because he is part of the hotel guests, it will be necessary for us to avoid the other guests to be disturbed.

Taking into account all this, we need to remember that politeness, comprehension and diplomacy are generally useless face to drunk guests; we need to identify when we have to stop being diplomat for starting using other strategies.

Whatever it happens, it is always good to remember that drunk guests represent one of the most delicate trouble we may face when working during a night shift.

Javier Guijarro Segado
www.hotelsbyjavier.com
fjavierguise@gmail.com