Optimizing the hotel ‘control center’

Monscierge is an interactive software company that helps hotels connect travelers to local recommendations. The company recently released its Q1 2012 guest experience management (GEM) report focusing on how guests interact with the front desk — what GEM deems the “control center” for a guest’s experience.

First and foremost, GEM listed the top 10 questions guests might ask a front desk staff member. Combined for a total occurrence rate of just over 66% were — in order — hotel information, recommendations and directions. Trailing in fourth and fifth, respectively, were inquiries about Internet connectivity and flight information or boarding passes.

Right off the top, if you know these will consistently be your top five front desk requests (with a combined frequency of 84%) there are a few measures you can take here to improve guest services. Acting on these stats is particularly important when you consider excessive wait times at the front desk are a major cause of guest dissatisfaction.

Think brochures. Do you have a rack with a separate, well-labeled handout to describe your hotel operations, how the Internet works and recommendations for a number of popular local attractions with directions? This can work either as something for guests to browse while they wait or as something for them to take back to their room and solve the quandary entirely.

Think tablets. Have you given any thought to installing tablets at the front desk? After developing an internal software platform, such devices become incredibly helpful for answering guest inquires, especially when you continually update the program with the latest restaurants and events. Plus, integrating with Google maps is great way to answer direction requests.

These two tools are great for temporarily occupying a bored customer, but are not to be thought of as replacements for a staff-to-guest interaction. The response “I don’t know” should never be a part of your front desk’s repertoire. An “I don’t know, but let me check,” is okay, but doesn’t inspire confidence.

Train your staff so they fully understand the “control center” responsibilities that come as part of working at the front desk. Knowledge is power, and your staff members should be constantly brushing up on local attractions, new restaurant openings, sports and current events.

To round out the top 10, the last five most common requests pertained to F&B, loyalty programs, check-out times, meetings information and the weather forecast. Again, think about having easy-access brochures to answer most of the basic questions on these topics. Maybe even have copies of your restaurant menus. Tablet software also can incorporate many of these components into one seamless design.