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Yes, The Hotel's Front Desk is Talking About You. Here's What They Are Saying

August 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM | by | ()

Oh, if those computers could talk.

Our former front desk guy has given valuable tips on effectively complaining to the front desk when something goes wrong. But if start a screaming match with the front desk, or any other hotel employee, you can be assured they will "make a note of this." Here's what really goes on behind the front desk.

Most hotels have a system where information about each guests’ needs are documented and further highlighted upon check-in, so that all staff are aware of the profile of the guest and anticipate all their needs. These comments are further enforced during a typical 15-minute "stand-up" (a pre-shift run through of the day’s status, events, information and VIPs). A proper handling of these comments ensures that all staff has the same information and relays a consistent level of information and service to the guest.

However, some of the comments placed on a guest account go far beyond the rudimentary drink and pillow preferences, and instead highlight details pertaining to a specific incident during their previous stay or an extreme requirement that must be attended to when a guest checks in, or an alert about unorthodox behavior or a previous complaint placed by the guest.

Below is a glimpse of some comments that have graced guests' accounts over my years as part of the front desk team, and how we handled them.

Upset Over Room
***Treat guest with care!! Guest was upset that front desk agent lied about when his room would be ready and then gave him noisy, small room. Guest is very upset***

One of the first guests I encountered as an intern was an ex-government employee who became a successful corporate executive and platinum rewards member at the hotel. Given his background, he was absolutely meticulous about everything in his life including his travel plans, his accommodation, what he ate and the way he interacted with people.

In my first interaction with him, I found him immediately complaining about his previous experiences with the hotel and how he hates the service. After carefully checking him in and reading the comments made on his profile, I clearly highlighted the type of upgraded room offered to him and the time the room would be ready, 3pm, the typical check-in time. In this instance, the comments served to alert me to treat the guest with care rather than aggression and understand that being honest and clear with him was the best way to meet his needs and look after him.

Specific Room Request for a Frequent Guest
***Guest must always have room 660 or room 760***Platinum Lifetime/No Exceptions as Per GM***

This is typical of the comments I came across as a front desk agent. Written for some of the more high profile and long-standing guests of our hotel, many of who had strict room requirements and preferences. Some of them had stayed with us so often (Mon-Fri, 50 weeks a year) they pretty much earned the right to get the exact room they wanted. Many of our guests who earned a "lifetime" status with our rewards program also received additional perks that were not typical such as a "walk-through" check-in (their room key would be given to them by the bellman and they would walk right through to their room.) These comments served as a communication tool to make sure all staff understood the loyalty of the guest and the special perks they should receive.

Issues with Payment ***Beware of Guest***Outstanding Invoice***Take full payment of room and incidentals in full before processing check in***Guest CC on file does not authorize for payment ***Guest is EPO NOT SAC/SC***

A very rare comment but I had come across this the first week I joined a hotel front office team. I got really nervous when this comment flashed up on the screen. Apparently this was a long time guest of the hotel who had slowly abused his privileges of paying for his stay on credit after he checked out. (Ed. Note: Sounds like Lindsay Lohan!) It was a very embarrassing moment to address this with the guest with security of the hotel also involved. Luckily, all debts were settled and the guest was ok.

Room Damages
***Contact GM/Events Manager before guest checks out***Payment for Wedding Group Presidential Suite damages posted to guest folio***

I worked the front desk through many high-profile weddings. Typically, we endeavor to give the bride and groom, on their wedding night, our presidential suite (wink). In one instance, we had just recently spent boatloads of money renovating our two presidential suites and wanted to be very careful about who we rented them out too. The incoming wedding party was adamant that they had to have the presidential suite (in fact they wanted both!) for two nights.

Early on we noticed the wedding party was going to be a big party and were a bit worried about what would happen to the suites. Our worst fears were realized when the housekeepers called me the next day to come check out the suite. Wedding cake was smeared all over the carpet, champagne was soaked into every crevice of the furniture, there was some weird substance on the curtains and a chair was broken.

After I informed senior management about the issue, we collectively decided that this damage was well beyond the typical misuse we have seen and agreed the wedding party was liable for the cleaning charges. Although they were not happy, they too realized the damage was a bit out of hand. The comment alerted the staff to call a senior manager to explain the situation (it was not a fun conversation).

Security Concerns
***Treat with Care***Male guest entered guest’s room last night***Call GM/Security or FDM before guest checks out***

One of the most rare comments I came across as a front desk agent. I had just worked a double shift and took a day off. The hand-over to me read like a long saga and I was expecting a couple of issues this morning. I was briefed about a male guest mistakenly entering a female guest’s room in the middle of the night and she had come down to the front desk and security and the Manager of Duty got involved.

Apparently, one of the staff in the overnight shift had mixed up room numbers and issued a wrong room key to a slightly intoxicated guest. In his state, he went straight to that room and upon entering scared the female guest. Amends were made to the female guest but because of the seriousness of the fault, comments were placed all over her account for the GM and the head of security to personally speak with her again and ensure she is satisfied with the compensation and care given to her.

While these are a fun inside look at what goes on behind the front desk, notes on a guest's folio have two purposes. One, to ensure the same mistakes and situations don’t happen again and two, to provide a level of documentation should facts between hotel staff and the guest need to be verified in order to identify the root of the issue. Thus, the front desk should ensure that the notes appropriately disseminate all relevant information and then, interact with the guest appropriately given the comments on their account. Almost all incidents entered are at the very least discussed with senior management and issues that have serious implications are noted for future reservations.

But if you're wondering if the hotel made a note of your drunken stumble back to your room, don't fret. While some comments address more embarrassing issues than others, the hotel staff is not there to judge, but rather to ensure the best possible lodging experience for all guests.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

Archived Comments:

Here's What I Think When I'm Checking In...

Aditya - Love your articles. This one resonated with me in response to an item I recently posted on my blog. I'm a regular traveler and customer for hotels (and airlines). I make it a point to understand where the service person is coming from and NOT be like some of the people you've described above.

Looking forward to reading more of your pieces from behind the front desk. And...


<a href="http://thumbnailtraveler.blogspot.com/2015/02/i-think-these-things-when-i-stay-at.html">http://thumbnailtraveler.blogspot.com/2015/02/i-think-these-things-when-i-stay-at.html</a>