Week (10) Introduction This Training Resource will help you develop skills and knowledge to provide porter services. It deals with the skills and knowledge required to provide services associated with bell desk or concierge in a commercial accommodation establishment. Within small accommodation establishments, reception or other staff may carry out these services. Knowledge Summary • To be competent, you must also have knowledge of and skills in: * a range of typical bell desk services; * occupational health and safety procedures specifically for luggage, including safe lifting and bending; * typical procedures and systems for the movement of luggage within hotel. * features of typical luggage storage systems within hotel; * Relationships between the bell desk and other departments * Bell desk security procedures. What the porter does for the guest Porter’s duties are: Porters/bellhops/ concierge are the staff who greet guests as they arrive at the hotel, manage guests’ luggage and provide general information services to guests as part of their role in the concierge department.. Concierge : An staff whose basic task is to serve as the guest’s coordinator with both hotel and non hotel attractions, facilities, services and activities. To provide personalised guest services. Learner Resources continued A concierge can provide a wide range of services for guests and also plays many roles on behalf of the hotel. If there is anything a guest needs or has a problem with , concierge is the person to call. Concierges almost always help, either by taking action themselves or by knowing exactly to whom to refer the guest. Learner Resources Desirable Qualification of a concierge Enthusiasm: must be a primary ingredient in the concierge’s personality. Organisation and efficiency: Since several concierges work at the desk during different shifts, accurate record keeping is a must. ( tickets, flowers, babysitters etc) Sensitivity to the feelings of others is another important asset. To succeed as a concierge, you have to be constantly attentive to the other person. Honesty Command of foreign languages is important but not necessary Learner Resources continued Stamina : concierge are often on their feet all day long so stamina is vital. Discretion is of the essence. Concierge often knows intimate details of their guests’ lives (See everything, say nothing) must be your motto. A warm and friendly personality Have a high regard for personal grooming and hygiene Be attentive and courteous Have a excellent interpersonal skills ( good social and communication skills) Developed selling skills: Understand the various needs of the hotel’s target markets. Learner Resources What are some items you need at the Concierge Desk Reference materials Log books, Official Airlines guide Telephone books Hotel Personnel list Brochures and handouts & maps Street Cityrail Bus and tour brochures Hotel brochures and advertising Learner Resources continued Stationary: all kind and sizes, envelopes, luggage tags Packing supplies: String and twine Various types and sizes of tape Guest mail boxes: Outgoing mails Special amenities Forms In house forms Delivery service Tour reservation books Learner Resources Four basics of guest relations The four followings are required to become a concierge 1. Greet the guest 2. Use the guest’s name. 3. Maintain eye contact 4. Smile. Learner Resources Services provided by a concierge/porter General information and directions (within the hotel and surrounding area) Accepting/posting Mail and Packages Escorting guest to other departments Escorting guest to guest room Room inspections Delivering special amenities (Cufflinks, medical kits, safety pins, scissors,) Wrapping Showing room Learner Resources Workplace example • It is important to remember that this unit applies to most establishments where accommodation is provided. • Provide porter services • If you are to be successful in this unit, it is critical that you: 1. know the range of services offered by the bell desk; 2. can provide courteous and friendly service to guests; and 3. can safely handle luggage and use luggage storage systems Continued • You will be expected to use current equipment, technology and enterprise procedures for moving luggage safely including luggage marking systems; • amount of luggage to be placed on trolleys or taken into lifts; procedures or designated routes for moving luggage through public areas; • restrictions on areas into which luggage can be taken; order in which luggage is to be moved; procedures for dealing with heavy items; • lifting and bending procedures; procedures for taking luggage from rooms; placement of luggage within rooms; and group luggage procedures. continued • Other services you may be asked to provide to guests include mail, wake-up call, messages, organisation of transport, luggage pick up, paging of guests and the preparation of guest information directories. • Other enterprise/room features you may have to advise guests about include dining options within the establishment; sporting facilities; floor facilities; operating procedures for room equipment such as phone or TV; and general services such as laundry, valet and meal arrangements. Preparing for and greeting guests on arrival • The Bell Attendant or Concierge is usually the first point of contact a guest will have when arriving at an establishment. Your aim should be to create an impression that influences the customers’ feelings about their entire experience. • Not all establishments require a Bell Desk or Concierge department, but the service still needs to be performed. A receptionist, a waiter or a manager could carry out these duties. To be successful in a service industry, you must like people, especially in Bell services where you are with people for your entire shift. When you put on your uniform to start work, a happy smiling face must come with it, regardless of how you feel. continued To make your first impression a positive one: make sure you are well groomed; * greet all your customers and guests courteously; * keep your workplace clean and tidy; * smile sincerely. * Checking the arrival list Arrival lists contains information that is needed to ensure the smooth, efficient operation of the Bell Desk to maintain the best possible guest service standards. Depending on the establishment, the arrival lists may contain the following information: Arrival date; Name of guest; Type of room booked; Number of people staying in the room; Departure date; whether the guest is an frequent independent traveller (FIT) or travelling with a group. continued the rate the guest is paying; whether the booking has been guaranteed or not; any special requests that have been made (either by the guest or management); ETA (estimated time of arrival), if known; ETD (estimated time of departure), if known; Depending on the Front Office system the establishment is using, arrival lists may be generated by the computer system or prepared and typed by the Reservation department or Reception. Arrival lists contain confidential information and should not be left lying around where anyone can look at it. continued Preparation and anticipation are key elements to the successful operation of the Bell Desk. By using arrival lists a number of planning activities are possible. These include: n rostering staff according to business; n communication and preparation for special requests and VIPs; n scheduling of daily duties in quieter periods; n preparation for group arrivals; n preparation of storage areas for luggage, if rooms are not prepared. Special Request Depending on the establishment, special requests can be quite varied. Arrival lists may itemise each request and may include: n a guest with a disability; n guests with an ETA prior to check in time or after 1800 hours; n flowers in the room on arrival. Establishments that are computerised may have a number of reports, giving detailed information. These include: n Special Request report n Group Arrivals report n VIP report. continued Despite many of these requests being handled by departments other than the Bell Desk, it is important to be aware of the daily situation within the whole establishment. One needs to ensure requests are followed through and to action requests that have been overlooked. A Bell Attendant may be called on to assist other departments at any time. The unexpected may occur after a department has closed for the evening, and the Bell Desk is then called on to perform the activity. You may notice a request has not been fulfilled by the responsible department. If so, you should try to rectify the situation immediately. Preparing for a guest with a disability It is important to not only know a guest has a disability but what that disability is, thus allowing you to be better prepared. n a guest with a walking disability; n what special facilities would you expect to find in a room designed for a person with disabilities? When preparing for the arrival of a guest with a disability: n be aware of the wheelchair access to all areas; n if an ETA is known, have a staff member wait at the entrance; n be familiar with the set-up of the disabled person’s room and the special facilities it has; n know the location of the public toilet for disabled persons. Preparing for group arrivals Group arrivals can make for an easy cost effective method of checking people into an establishment if well organised. Groups usually work to a schedule. This means that the establishment will know the group’s movements at all times. With good communication and follow-up between the Reservations department and the group organisers, the following information will be known: n estimated time of arrival for the group; n how the group will be arriving, e.g. by private coach or individually by car; n how many pieces of luggage each person will have; n meal times and where the meals will be taken; n times that the group will be out on tours, in session or on free time; n areas to leave messages if guests are not in their room; continued This information is called an itinerary and may be contained within a form produced by the Groups department. This form is a vital part of the communication process. In any establishment, regardless of size, the key to a smooth operation is communication. Information must be exchanged between and within departments. Problems arise when communication breaks down. It is usually the guests who suffer as a result and ultimately the establishment when guests do not return. Discuss with your Trainer what forms of communication are used within your establishment to communicate information regarding group bookings. Preparing for early and late arrivals Not all establishments provide 24-hour service. Irrespective of this, it important to know if guests are arriving outside normal hours to ensure: there are rooms available; a staff member is on duty to check in the guest. It is normal industry practice to hold a room vacant for an expected guest until 1800 hours. After this time, the room may be sold if the reservation has not been guaranteed with either a deposit or a credit card number. Why would it be important to know if guests are arriving earlier or later than the normal arrival or departure times? continued What preparations do you think might be required for a guest: n arriving prior to check-in time; n arriving after 1800 hours; n departing early in the morning; n departing after the normal check-out time. Preparing for VIPs All guests are treated equally. However, consideration must be made for Very Important People, VIPs. As a general rule, they are people who are important in the community or to your establishment, such as: n a frequent guest; n government officials; n titled people; n a person staying for an extended period. Most establishments have set procedures for handling VIPs. The level of courtesy and the added extras extended to them depend on the importance of the guests. Welcoming guests promptly on arrival A first impression of an establishment is based on the warmth and professionalism of their welcome. This welcome may occur: n when guest pulls up in the car; n when the guest enters through the front door; n at the reception desk. Wherever it occurs, the greeting is very important as it says a lot about the establishment and the staff. A greeting should be: n welcoming n personable n sincere offered with a smile while looking at the person A welcome or greeting should contain: n the guest’s name or title; n (the establishment name) ‘welcome to’; Remember continued Acknowledge the guest first, before he or she speaks to you. If you know the guests name, use it; if not, ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, ‘ladies’ or ‘gentlemen’ are acceptable. Do not be overly familiar or too casual. Observe others in your department greeting guests; develop your own greeting that you are comfortable using and check it with your Trainer. Labelling luggage Most establishments provide luggage labels. It is a good idea to use these particularly when you have a lot of luggage to deliver. It helps to avoid the wrong luggage being delivered to the wrong rooms. As soon as you know the details, i.e. name of the guest and the room number, write these on the luggage tag you have already attached to the bag. An example of a luggage label is pictured below. Identify the labels being used in your establishment and ask your Trainer to instruct you on their correct use. Directing guests to the reception area for registration Escorting a guest to Reception is preferable but not always possible. When escorting a guest take care to: n walk with the guest, not ahead of the person; n smile and be friendly; n talk to those who wish to talk; respect the privacy of those who don’t; n introduce the guest by name to the receptionist: ‘Mr Jones would like to register’; n leave with a greeting: ‘I hope you enjoy your stay with us, Mr Jones’. If conversation is difficult for you, try asking a question, e.g. ‘Did you have a pleasant trip, Mr Jones?’. continued If you are unable to escort the guest, give clear directions and remember to: n stop what you are doing; n look at the person you are speaking to; n speak clearly and concisely with confidence; n use your hands to indicate the way if necessary; n end the conversation with a smile; n check that the guests are heading in the right direction; n if available, provide a map of the establishment to assist guests in finding their way around; never say, ‘You can’t miss it’ Displaying a helpful and attentive attitude In the Hospitality Industry, the guest is the reason for your work, not an interruption to it. If there were no guests, you would not have a job. You are part of a service industry and your job is to give good service. When a guest asks questions, you must never think of it as an inconvenience. React promptly, give the guest your full attention and show genuine interest in the questions asked. If you know the answer to the guest’s request: n n n advise the guest; ask if there is anything else you can help with; finish the conversation with a pleasant greeting, e.g. ‘I hope you enjoy your stay’; n never make up an answer in the absence of knowledge or say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘that’s not my department’. Assist guests with luggage One of the main duties of a Bell Attendant is to assist guests with their luggage when checking in and checking out of an establishment. Health and safety issues must be considered when handling luggage. Basic precautions to follow are: n test all bags for weight before lifting them; do not be deceived by small bags; n ensure the correct lifting techniques are followed: n bend at the knees; n keep a straight back; n use a trolley if luggage is too heavy or if there are too many bags; treat all luggage carefully; it may contain fragile or breakable items. continued If you do not know the answer: n direct the guest to someone who does know; n offer to find out and get back to the guest with the answer; n do not keep the guest waiting while you try to find the answer; make sure you follow up and get back to the guest promptly Providing guests with information Holding a prime, front-of-house position, the Bell Attendant is required to have at his/her fingertips an abundance of information regarding the establishment and the local area. In your case, this knowledge may be gained through orientation prior to your first shift, by asking questions during your normal work day and by reading the literature that is in your department. When a guest asks a simple question, such as ‘What time is breakfast served?’, it can be very embarrassing not to know the answer. This portrays a poor impression of the capabilities of the staff and communication from management. Know your establishment As a Bell Attendant you are required to have information about all areas of your establishment, from Food and Beverage to Housekeeping and Business Centre services. That is a lot of information to absorb and items such as the menus in the restaurants will change constantly. You must ensure your knowledge is up to date. Describing the safety and security facilities By law, all accommodation establishments must have: n fire exits that are clearly marked and left unobstructed at all times; n well-maintained fire extinguishers and other fire fightingequipment; n signage outlining the correct equipment to be used on different fires and where equipment is stored; n a sprinkler system that automatically releases water when heated; n a smoke-activated alarm system. continued It is the responsibility of the establishment to compile emergency and evacuation procedures and to train staff in these. Fire drills and fire extinguishing methods should be carried out on a regular basis. In all guest rooms - usually located on the back of the door - there should be a floor plan of the establishment, clearly marking the fire escapes and the closest designated evacuation area. Safety deposit facilities Safety deposit boxes in most establishments can be: n located in a secure area of Front Office; n individual boxes securely located in guest rooms; n smaller establishments may use their main safe. The Bell Attendant must be aware of the location and the correct procedure for use because of the security aspects involved with these facilities. It is very important that correct procedures be followed exactly. There should be only one guest key to a safety deposit box; a second master key is required to open the box and this is usually kept at Reception. If a guest loses a safe deposit box key it is a serious matter and should be referred to someone in authority immediately. Key control/security Key control in accommodation areas is important for the overall security of the building and guests. Most establishments have the room number written on the key tag, but not the establishment name or address. Why would this be? Some establishments use a card system for entry to guest rooms. This card is similar to a credit card and is slid into the lock on the room door to disengage the door. Each keycard has its own individual program. The keycard is issued when the guest checks in and is valid only for the duration of the stay. Once the guest has been checked out of the system, the keycard is automatically deprogrammed. Information on and directions to local attractions An important role of the Bell Attendant is to advise guests on the local area and its attractions, and to give directions on how to get to a particular destination. This information may already be displayed or stored somewhere within your establishment or may be found in a variety of directories, guide books, pamphlets and tourist publications. As a Bell Attendant, it is a good idea to add a section to your information book on ‘Local Attractions’. Where possible, experience the attractions for yourself. Often suppliers will give you a complimentary pass. Do not just hand over to guests whatever promotional materials you have. continued When asked for directions or information: n review the information with the guest; n ensure you have answered all the guest’s questions; n offer all the alternatives that you are able to provide. Escorting guests to their room Escorting guests to their rooms can be one of the most enjoyable duties in the Front Office. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the guests, thus pre-empting any needs or inquiries that may arise. As well, it offers the opportunity to promote the facilities of the establishment and local area. When check-in is completed, the receptionist should inform you of the guest’s name and room number and hand you the room key . Remember Once you know the guest’s name, use it frequently. Escorting a guest When escorting a guest it is good manners to: n allow the guest to set the walking pace, even though you are leading the way; n speak clearly and with the appropriate volume; n look at the guest when speaking to them; n be courteous and polite; n use the guest’s name; the more you use it, the greater the chance you will remember it when next you see the guest; n keep the conversation on a professional level; do not be too familiar or use slang; n keep the conversation on a positive note; do not voice your opinion on any issues; n use your intuition to know when to withdraw from a guest or be quiet; sometimes guests do not wish to communicate and you should respect this. Describing the features of the room It is important you are familiar with each type of room and understand the correct operating procedures for the various facilities. As you are normally by yourself with the guest it will be difficult if you do not know the answer to simple questions. When describing the room and facilities you must vary your presentation depending on: The first-time guest who has plenty of time and wants to know everything about the room; the first-time guest who is showing some interest, but does not want to know everything; Continued The first-time guest who is not interested at all, but whom you still must inform about the important issues, such as fire exits; The return guest; find out when the guest last stayed at the hotel. There may have been some changes since then. Regardless of which option is available to you, you should have a set order you follow. Choose a starting point, usually just inside the door, and move clockwise or anti-clockwise around the room. This will reduce the risk of leaving something out, and it saves time. Providing guest services and guidance Depending on the type of establishment, the processing and handling of guest mail, messages and wake-up calls will vary. Whichever area is performing the duty - Reception, Telephone Department or Concierge - the procedures should be the same. Every guest request or mail/message received should be recorded on the appropriate form and delivered promptly so as not to cause inconvenience to the guests. Mail Mail is usually delivered during quiet times of the day when this work can be performed without interruption. Frequency depends on the establishment. If you have a reason to go up to guestrooms, it is a good idea to check if there is any mail to be delivered. This may save you a trip later on. When mail is received or a message left: n check that the guest is registered with you; n date and time stamp the mail with your establishment’s stamp; n record the particulars in the mail register; n sort mail by room number; n if possible, activate a message light on the phone. continued The guest should show proof of identity and sign the register when mail is collected from the Concierge or Reception, particularly if the item is registered mail or a package. There should be one location only where mail and packages are held waiting collection by guests. When delivering mail or messages to a guestroom, place the item under the door or inside the room continued Remember If you are entering a guestroom for any reason, it is important that you follow these steps: n knock on the door; n identify yourself, e.g. Concierge or Bell Attendant; n wait for a response; n knock and identify yourself again; if no answer, enter the room. Messages A common complaint from guests is that messages are received too late or not at all. Some establishments have message lights on guestroom telephones to alleviate this problem. Messages should be recorded on the appropriate ‘guest message’ form. Make sure that you: n use neat and clear handwriting; n record the guest’s name and room number; n record the time the message was taken; n record the caller’s name and telephone number; n record the message in full. If the guest is still to arrive, the mail or message should be held with the registration card at the Front Desk and handed to the guest on arrival. Wake-up calls Ensure wake-up calls are logged and actioned correctly. This is an important guest service and is used frequently because people need to meet prior engagements. Many establishments provide an alarm clock in the guest room and/or have an automated service via the telephone whereby a guest or the operator, can program a wake-up call which rings the phone automatically at the designated time. Requests for wake-up calls should be recorded in a register or log book. Ensure you: n hand write neatly and clearly; n record the guest’s name, room number and requested wake-up time. n manual system: n transfer the information directly to the wake-up call request form; n ensure the wake-up call form is given to the person who is to perform the action; n electronic system: continued n enter the request into the system immediately; n initial the record book to signify it is actioned. The manual wake-up call is administered by: n dialing the room number at the requested time; n letting the phone ring until answered by the guest; n announcing; ‘Good morning, (guest name) this is your (hour) wake-up call’. If the guest does not answer, you should take this seriously as you have an obligation to fulfil in waking the guest at the correct time. If, after trying again on the telephone, there is still no answer, a staff member should go to the room and check on the guest. The guest may have woken earlier and gone to breakfast, could be sleeping very heavily and not heard the phone, or could be ill or injured and in need of assistance.