A well-tuned Front Office Upgrade Program can contribute over $5 to REVPAR at 75% net profit, and the heartbeat of a successful program is what we call the Program Coordinator or Property Champion (“PC”). This key resource makes sure there are well-formed daily goals and motivating activities that shape success and reinforce the right behaviors at the moment of arrival.
Put simply – it is a critical set of responsibilities that should be taken seriously, and the person given these duties should be selected carefully. We have done focus groups in over 20 countries to determine the top three considerations when choosing a PC to optimize the success of an Upgrade Program.
First, they must have the time to dedicate
A PC must have the focused time to handle all their existing activities and responsibilities, as well as to manage the daily Upgrade Program elements. That includes coordinating with Housekeeping, communicating the daily game plan with the front office team, and reporting to management.
Therefore, an FOM is often not a great choice. An FOM is usually too busy to give the program the necessary time and you are really looking for an eager, talented supervisor or respected Agent who can lead this valuable program.
Second, they must be team-oriented
As Front Office team members come and go, the PC must make sure that all agents get the initial training and ongoing practice to be successful. This includes making sure new agents get the necessary room tours to speak confidently about Upgrade opportunities to guests, making sure they are comfortable handling Upgrades in whatever operating system you have at the Front Desk, and giving new (and all) agents regular role-playing opportunities and coaching reminders.
It is also a good idea for the PC to keep the Agents informed of how they are doing through the month. The more the team can see how they are doing MTD and YTD, the better they will understand their role in the program’s performance and their potential commissions.
PCs need to keep an Upgrade program fresh and come up with motivating contests and activities that drive monthly success. These should capitalize on the daily or weekly ebbs and flows of inventory. Furthermore, games and contests need to be driven on a DAILY, WEEKLY and MONTHLY basis- not just monthly. Month-long contests often get forgotten or even worse, the Agents will procrastinate in participating. They need to also find ways to recognize and reward as many Agents as possible, both individually and as a team and ensure that they are not always rewarding the same top performers.
Third, it (really) helps if they qualify for incentives and commissions
This is not a deal-breaker, but it is another reason why an FOM is a sub-optimal choice. They are often salaried and therefore disqualified from any additional incentives that could be assigned to them. When structured properly, the extra work that is assigned to PCs can come with extra compensation, which is paid for entirely by the program’s success. In short, PCs who have extra “skin in the game” put that extra effort into their program.
The difference between a successful or unsuccessful Upgrade Program very much lies with whom you have chosen to run your program in the Front Office trenches. Be mindful that one person cannot do this alone. We recommend training a minimum of two PCs who can keep things running no matter who takes a day off, goes on vacation, or who gets promoted.
Look for individuals with high energy, enthusiasm and a sense of teamwork to lead your team to success, because when you have the right people running your Upgrade Program, guests are happier, associates are motivated and performing, and the property generates important incremental revenue.
For more on this topic see: Top three reasons a successful front office upgrade program falls apart
About the authors
Leigh Mamuad is Senior Vice President of Operations at Drake Beil and Associates, LLC (DB&A), an international consulting firm based in Hawaii since 1980 focused on worldwide hospitality industry. DB&A specializes in “Service Excellence Upgrade Programs” for hotels and resorts interested in increasing incremental revenue and REVPAR in Rooms. Leigh has been with DB&A since 2006 and launched over 100+ properties in 20 countries worldwide. Leigh has been in the Hospitality Industry for the past 25 years and is a 1997 graduate from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Management.
Dana Beil is Vice President of Training and Development at Drake Beil & Associates, an international consulting firm based in Hawaii since 1980 focused on the worldwide hospitality industry. Dana specializes in creating incremental Upgrade revenue for hotels and resorts at the moment of arrival. She currently manages a portfolio of over 60 properties throughout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. Email [email protected] for a complimentary Upgrade revenue assessment for your property or portfolio.