Tag Archives: systems

Systems and resources

system daria-nepriakhina-474036Day 9 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

9. Systems and resources

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have any systems in place which make life difficult for your team members?

Poor systems can be frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Poor systems or a lack of resources inevitably puts extra pressure on the team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers…

Resulting in an inconsistent level of service, leaving the customers frustrated or disappointed.

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, ask your team for their observations and feedback.

Very often the simplest of modifications is all that’s needed to make all the difference.


How long is the queue at your hotel reception?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about first and last impressions. Now that so much of the booking and travel plans are made on line the reception is often going to be the first and last direct contact your guests will have with a real person.

Any hotel guest will know that the busy times on reception are early evening for check in, and after breakfast for check out. And what impression do guests get left with? The queue, and waiting to get your room key; or even worse, waiting to part with your money. I have yet to work out why this happens in so many of the hotels I visit.

What can hotels do to reduce this?


Firstly in both instances, the rush should not come as a surprise! So why are there never more staff on to deal with these peak times. I frequently see more people behind the front desk late morning when there is little guest facing activity, than there is during these busy periods. Receptionists’ hours should be based on accommodating these times, and if that means more staff then, and fewer at other times, so be it.

This does not mean that they can only work on reception; there are plenty of opportunities to combine roles so people work on reception for an hour before moving on to other areas of the hotel. Administration, staff meetings, accounts, or whatever else is happening back of house should come second to dealing with a guest who is ready to check in or out.

And then let the reception staff focus on checking in and checking out, and have others on hand to deal with non check in/out matters – answering the phone, giving guests directions, dealing with keys that don’t work, welcoming meeting and conference hosts and delegates.


99% of guests will already have made a reservation. So is there a system in place to ensure all the necessary paperwork is ready for their arrival? All that should be needed is a signature on the form and confirming payment details. Maybe guests would be more receptive to upsells if everything else is in order.

The same goes for check out. A guest’s bill should be ready at the point they arrival at reception. I know that express checkout has gone some way to alleviate some of the pressure during the morning rush. The problem with express checkout is that in most cases the guest has to wait for the receipt to be mailed on to them. This is no good if they need the receipt to claim their expenses, and the receipt is lying at home, whilst they are still away travelling, or the receipt takes 3 -4 days to reach them, and they have deadlines for expenses claims.

Your systems should also include preparing for the rush – is the printer well stocked with paper, someone else answering the phone, complicated invoices checked and dealt with by the person who knows the detail, for example.


However good your systems they won’t work unless everyone is trained in how to use them, and everyone works as a team. This requires training, not only in the systems, but what to do when things go wrong – when the printer jams, when there is a query over the bill, when their credit card won’t go through. The more smoothly and confidently these can be dealt with the better for everyone.

Reception staff need daily briefings so they know what’s happening in the hotel that evening or that day. This gives a smoother operation, without having to waste time asking others, and if they know what’s happening, there may be a greater opportunity for upselling too.

Remember the check in and check out will leave a lasting impression for your guests. Make sure it is a good one.

Caroline Cooper

Staffing and training is one of the topics covered on the forthcoming Hoteliers Leadership Coachig Programme commencing in September. Register here for more information or to attend the launch tele seminar

Guests’ first and last impressions

Yesterday I ran a workshop at a hotel. This was for a third party, so I had not been involved with the booking, but had the conference organiser’s name. Ironically the word “Welcome” was in the title of the workshop….

On arrival there was just one person at reception at the normally busy checkout time. She happened to be dealing with a guest’s bill, which one might expect at this time of day. But, I received absolutely no eye contact or acknowledgement that I had even been seen. I decided to try and locate another member of staff, or at least the meeting room where the workshop would be run. Any signs? No.

I came back to reception, laden with my bags, reluctant to leave my laptop unattended. By which time of course the lone receptionist was deep in the transaction of the next guest.

I waited.

Finally I had her attention and asked for my contact. “That’s me” she says, without a hint of apology for keeping me waiting.

So she finally comes out from behind the typical unwelcoming barrier of the reception desk, to appear in the most inappropriate dress I think I’ve even seen on a receptionist!  (Leggings, low cut smock top, bare ankles).  Mmm, not a good first impression……

Did they redeem themselves? Well, they could have done.

But, when it was time to leave, I passed 3 members of staff on the way out. Not one of them offered to help with my bags, not one of them thanked me for my custom, and not one or asked for any feedback. Not only did I not feel valued as a customer; what a wasted opportunity to get some feedback. Although I was not paying the bill, I’m sure that one booking earned the hotel considerably more revenue than any single accommodation bookings that day. And they certainly weren’t so busy that they could not have taken 2 minutes to ask me.

What seemed to be lacking was any hotel management, training or systems.  Did anyone recognise the  importance of first impressions?

The thing is, what was delivered in between was actually quite good. But it’s what your guests see first and last that leaves the greatest impression. And it’s that impression I’ll be thinking of when my client asks for feedback on the venue.

Caroline Cooper

The welcome is just one of the topics discussed by my guests on the tele seminar series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge