Four tips to successfully adapt front office operations in times of COVID

Like most other hoteliers, Covid has probably forced you to reconsider every part of your operations, especially how you interact with guests during check-in, check-out and while they’re in-house.

The good thing is that there are many tech tools and innovative solutions you can take advantage of to make your recovery phase a success all while sticking to the many new rules and regulations.

Keep reading to learn more and download the complete eBook with expert advice and links to videos full of post-lockdown tips for your front office department.

We thank industry experts Arian Roehrle (General Manager, Seehotel Schlierseer Hof) and Nathalie Mulder (Rooms Division Manager, Kimpton De Witt Hotel) who shared their expertise.

Take the first steps to adapt your front of house to the ‘new normal’

Even though Covid has brought on a lot of changes for the hospitality industry, your hotel’s primary purpose stays the same: to welcome guests and make them feel safe and at home.

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Here are three ways to continue living this purpose today:

  1. Acknowledge Covid’s impact on your hotel and understand that the more quickly and creatively you adapt to new guest demands, local rules and regulations, the better your chances are of recovering.
  2. Make hygiene and safety your priority in public areas by spacing out seating, sharing information about local and in-house guidelines and setting up stations with hand sanitiser around your property.
  3. Include new standards and procedures in your budget since things like PPE for staff and guests, disinfectant and hand sanitiser as well as the increased time spent on Covid-related admin will impact your bottom line.

Revisit your front office services

At a time when one of hospitality’s main pillars, direct personal service, could be a potential health risk, it’s important to find creative ways to bring together safety, social distancing and engagement. However, in some cases it may be even better to encourage guest autonomy and adopt a more hands-off approach.

The three points below offer ideas on how to keep your standards high while slightly changing how you provide your signature services.

  1. Check-in and check-out. Allow guests to check in and out online so they can avoid the reception if they want to. This provides extra flexibility to your patrons and gives you more time to focus on other pressing tasks. After every in-person check-in and check-out, remember to sanitise your desk, the credit card machine and everything your staff and the guest touched.
  2. Porter service and valet parking. Encourage porters to disinfect their equipment regularly and to leave bags outside the guest room after announcing their arrival by a knock on the door. Valets can sanitise the cars they park both when they enter and leave to ensure their safety and your guest’s.
  3. Allow guests to choose. Services like showing a guest to their room, taking their bags or parking their car were a given in many hotels before Covid. Since people are more careful about close physical proximity now, ask your visitors which services they’re comfortable with before you go ahead with anything.

Leverage tech solutions

Digitisation and tech tools can be a great way to add extra value for your guests and make your team’s life easier by automating repetitive tasks.

Consider implementing the following five options to get the most out of today’s technology solutions in your front office department.

  1. Offer a direct communication channel via your website by adding a chat feature and possibly using a bot to answer FAQs.
  2. Continue guest communication via a centralised messaging platform that allows you to be in touch with patrons before, during and after their stay.
  3. Drive revenue through pre-arrival upselling by using an automated upselling solution that proactively reaches out to guests and promotes upgrades and ancillary services.
  4. Improve internal communication by using a tool that helps departments quickly share relevant information and complete action items more quickly.
  5. Digitise services and amenities like your in-room A-Z guide or the reading materials you offer at breakfast to save both time and the cost of sanitising the physical copies after every use.

Focus on providing experiences

Especially during these challenging times, guests want to have a great experience to forget the drudgery of the past months. Make a stay with you worth it for your guests in three simple steps.

  • Offer localised experiences to help guests discover the fun side of your region. Think of something that will wow even those who are travelling close to home this year and may otherwise feel like they’ve already ‘seen it all’.
  • Create new ways to interact with guests either through digital means or by moving your check-in from the front desk to the lounge. There, staff and patrons may even have the option of removing their masks, since they are often not required in F&B venues. This can make interactions feel more personal and friendly.
  • See changing guest demands as an opportunity to try something new. Use your creativity and you’ll probably find ways to revamp some outdated processes that you’ve been itching to do away with for a while. Now is your chance!

On to you! Let the points above inspire you to give your guests a warm, safe welcome and an amazing experience at your hotel when demand starts picking up once again.

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