Providing excellent customer service is what an effective hotel front desk agent does. As the first person most guests will encounter, front desk agents need to represent the hotel with courtesy and professionalism. Thus, they are always polished, ready to greet with a smile, and offer necessary assistance to anyone. While it is not required to have a degree in tourism and hospitality, common courtesy should be innate to be effective at their job. Every hotel has rules and standards to meet, and these can be mastered through training.
I talked to B Hotel Alabang’s front office manager Glennis Narciso and Sheraton Hotel Manila general manager Anna Vergara for insights on the makings of an effective front desk agent. Narciso started as a guest service agent before becoming the front office manager of B Hotel Alabang. Vergara, on the other hand, started out as a front desk agent at Hyatt Regency Manila and eventually rose through the ranks when she transferred to New World. She became the hotel manager at Marriott Manila and then general manager of Sheraton Hotel Manila.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Anything can happen in the hotel at any given time, so it’s important to prepare for unexpected situations and have backup plans in case the original plan doesn’t work. Anticipate the guests’ needs and be sensitive to the surroundings. “I become more effective if I have equipped myself with all the needed information and resources that I need during my shift,” says Vergara.
COMMUNICATION IS ESSENTIAL
An effective front desk agent is able to articulate their thoughts as well as be an active listener. Language skills are also of value for some hotels. “While not exactly required, knowing a different language other than English is an advantage since our hotel gets a lot of international guests,” says Narciso.
An effective front desk agent can work well even under pressure and embrace challenges that happen quite often in hotels, according to Narciso and Vergara. “Working in this industry requires you to invest a lot of your time in operations,” says Vergara. Expect to work on weekdays and holidays and on extended hours if you will man the front desk. It is also a common practice that front desk agents are willing to go above and beyond the job description, as they have a natural inclination to offer help when it is needed.
HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Technical skills can be taught and learned over time, but an optimistic outlook and the enthusiasm to learn new things will help make the job bearable, even in trying times. “The most challenging part of the job is facing new guests every day and having to deliver remarkable service and sharing smiles even when you are not in the mood,” says Narciso. Working in a hotel requires a lot of sacrifices. The work basically necessitates your attention 24/7, and it takes a positive disposition to get through all of these. “I have always perceived my profession as the essence of my being, thus, I don’t consider this as just a job. Once you do something that you enjoy doing, everything about it is perceived to be an opportunity to be a better person,” says Vergara.
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