Introducing new rules to the front desk – on the example of changing a discount policy
Building decision awareness among employees (not only at the reception desk!) is crucial. It lets you create a team that develops independently and shapes a reception reality – without the participation of the on-site manager.
For this reason, my today’s advice not only should be applied to the process of changing the discount policy. It can be applied to every rule or policy you plan to implement.
The highest discount that can be granted by the reception desk should be included in some procedures. Make sure the employee knows what the highest profitable discount is and why. Here, the word “why” is extremely important. You, as a manager, obviously have more options.
The reception, by knowing the discount policy, the benefits of discounts, as well as the causes and effects, will be able to independently decide when such discount is appropriate. Your front desk will also be able to use the discounts to increase sales opportunities, e.g. for additional services or the accommodation itself (if they accept direct bookings).
The discount policy itself also helps to improve the service at the reception desk. It makes your receptionists more “flexible” and allows them to react faster to what is happening on the spot. In the case of hotels operating 24/7, such speed of response is obligatory…
Introducing new rules to the front desk
Okay, the meeting with the reception is organized, everyone sits in a circle, and you feel all those eyes on you. What now?
Explain in turn:
🔹 The purpose of the discounts.
🔹 The logic behind the creation of the entire discount policy (why did you create it, what influenced you).
🔹 When the discount policy should be flexible. Be sure to provide examples of such discounts.
🔹 Show the dependencies that shape the profitability of your business. Explain where the room cost comes from. Why at some point you cannot go below the given price? And if you do, what countermeasures should be applied to remain profitable?
The entire training should leave a space between the flexibility and knowledge of the receptionist and the analysis of a given situation that requires discounting.
What problems may arise during the training?
I see two potential problems:
🔸 You can’t let the employee be flexible and decide for himself.
🔸 You don’t explain why you are introducing something.
In the first case, try giving at least a small degree of freedom to your receptionist and let him learn your logic of thinking.
I’ve always tried to talk to the receptionists or my team so they could understand why I was making a given decision. Even if it took a while, each time I analyzed the situation with the employee who approached me, and at the end, we “made” a decision together. A mini-coaching, you may say 😊
This way, you create a versatile team that can handle the matter in the same way as you would handle it yourself (e.g. during weekend shifts, the front desk will quickly react to sales opportunities or guest complaints). It creates the perfect situation – you can focus on your own development, and the team feels empowered because they have your trust.
The second case shows how important it is to explain your decisions (where did they come from). No matter what, always try to explain why something is happening. Sending the pricing policy in the PDF attachment when the receptionist doesn’t even know the room cost is a huge mistake.
Before introducing discounts, check the knowledge of the reception desk. Do they know what sales channels you are on? What are the prices there? What is the cost of additional services? What are the commissions on the given channels? Which channels are the most profitable for you?
When I called and booked a stay, be it in Poland or abroad, I faced many moments when the receptionist referred me to Booking.com when I inquired by e-mail or by phone. He was completely unaware of the importance of direct reservations, and how they affect the hotel’s finances.
Now ask yourself these questions – do your receptionists know the room cost? Where does it come from? Do they know the lowest price in the season that they can’t go below? Do they know the Food Cost for breakfasts?
No? So how do you want them to sell or negotiate with guests?
How did I monitor the results of my own hotel reception?
I’m positive that you already have your own methods. I chose my techniques depending on how “young” was the team I was dealing with and what property type it was.
I base my entire team management on building trust. I also try not to control everything and everywhere – it certainly won’t allow me and them to develop.
Control is important and should be performed depending on what changes you are introducing and how experienced your team is.
But remember – even for an experienced team, new processes are… NEW, so control and feedback must be most intense at the very beginning.
I also believe that, whether at the reception desk or in the restaurant, the manager should try out all hotel jobs. It helped me countless times to notice what was going wrong, and I could react quickly. I highly recommend it every now and then!!
The training itself, as well as weekly briefings and summaries, can take many forms. We can use them to analyze problematic events from recent days. I recommend this not only for the reception but also for the housekeeping staff.
The most important thing I have to consider as a manager?
“Why my team didn’t know this?” “What is the cause of this situation?” Based on that, I organize a series of individual training sessions and meetings, etc.
However, I will repeat myself – in order to build a team that will truly support you, you have to rely on mutual trust. I want the team to trust me, and I also want to trust them.
Leading and controlling a team is a grand topic. I’ll happily share my experience someday!
See previous articles in this series: