"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
The Front Desk is where real hotel marketing begins. As the face of the hotel, the Front Desk offers guests their first experience at your property and sets the tone for the group event. The impression you leave with a group guest at the front desk directly impacts whether you will be booking hotel group business with repeat customers in the future.
The effort it takes to make a group guest happy is nominal and if done well, reaps a big payoff. I am amazed at how little effort and cost it takes to go the extra mile. Take the walk and follow these tips for a great Front Desk impression.
Don't give the "Oh, no, one more disgruntled guest" look. Instead give the "I am so appreciative that you chose to spend your precious time and dollars at our resort" look. Friendliness is contagious. This attitude should permeate every action by every employee.
2. Provide a Separate VIP Check-In/Registration Area.
By setting up a VIP check-in, you can prep the assigned Front Desk agents on the specific group needs. The dedicated VIP check-in will process check-ins more efficiently. Since this is likely the first experience that a guest will have at your hotel, how it goes will set the tone for the group gathering.
When checking people in or out, explain to them why you are asking for information, what you are doing and what they can expect. Stock your Front Desk with the group’s agenda, a property map, community information and important telephone numbers.
4. Be Responsive.
When you get a call from a guest room for a toothbrush, towels, etc., make sure the appropriate department is informed quickly. Allow enough time for resolution and call the guest to ensure their request is fulfilled. Event planners often make “test” calls to evaluate service.
5. Anticipate Need.
Examples are providing umbrellas when it looks like rain and asking if transportation can be arranged.
6. Speak Knowledgeably.
Guests will bring a variety of questions to the Front Desk. Be prepared to give directions, suggest dining options, arrange transportation and recommend area activities.
7. Check-Out and Double Check.
Check and double check guest charges upon departure. The event planner must review each bill or guest folio for accuracy and resolution of the budget. If each bill is accurate you will save the planner numerous hours of review. Note exceptions to the contract when possible. The planner will remember how easy or difficult the account resolution is.
Your Front Desk sets the tone for group meetings. Be friendly, make people feel welcome and appreciated. Communicate necessary information to guests upon check-in. Anticipate need and fulfill requests efficiently. Treat group guests as VIPs with easy check-in. Be a source of knowledge about the hotel and the local area. Provide accurate bills. Thank the guest for staying with you.
Oh, and about that first impression being your only opportunity to impact a group guest, if you miss it, take the remainder of the group’s time with you to create another impression. Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel." First impressions are important and lasting. However, if you focus on your guest's overall experience and resolve any missed opportunities quickly and sincerely, you will make an excellent First Desk impression. That is the very best hotel marketing for group business!
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