Hotel staff training, skills, manners.
To most people, the hospitality industry consists only of hotels and restaurants. However, the Oxford English Dictionary defines hospitality as the “reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers with liberality and goodwill”, and according to the Macmillan Essential Dictionary it is “friendly and generous behavior towards visitors”. It means that the hospitality industry also includes a wide range of businesses, such as small guest houses, snack bars and fast-food outlets.
The hospitality industry provides services for people who are away from home for short or long periods of time. Therefore, it is important that hotel staff must be able to identify the various needs of their customers and be able to act and provide the services expected.
In order to provide a wide range of services efficiently to its guests, a hotel is usually divided into different departments, each being responsible for certain functions and duties. It is vital that the various departments understand each other’s work.
Major departments of a hotel
Marketing & Sales
-Reservations -Food Production -Employee Recruitment -Assistant Controllers -Sales Managers
-Front Office -Food Services -Benefits Manager -Finance Operations
-Housekeeping -Room Service -Training -Purchasing
-Laundry -Beverage Manager -Storeroom
-Security -Convention & Catering -F&B Controller
-Engineering -Stewarding -Credit Systems
Hotel departments can be divided into the front-of-the-house and the back-of-the-house departments. Front-of-the-office departments are those in which employees have extensive guest contact, such as reception, cashiers, concierge, restaurants, room service, bars, recreational areas, etc.
Back-of-the-office departments are those in which the staff has little or no direct contact with guests, such as housekeeping, personnel (human resources), accounting, and the engineering departments.
The first and the last place in which the guest comes into direct contact with the hotel staff is the front desk, it‘s one of the most important departments in a hotel. A hotel’s front office is where guests are greeted when they arrive, where they are registered and assigned to a room, and where they check out. Usually, the telephone operator, other guest communications functions, and the bell staff or those employees responsible for delivering luggage and messages and attending to special guest requests are also included in the front office department. The reservations department takes and tracks the hotel’s future bookings. It is crucial that the staff in this depatment is well trained, good-mannered, responsible, polite, communicative and active.
The housekeeping staff is one of the busiest in the hotel. This department is responsible for cleaning guest rooms and public spaces, in addition to that it provides valuable information to the front office. Once a room is cleaned, housekeeping must inform the front office so that the room may be sold. A great deal of interdependence exists among the subunits of the rooms department. Certain tasks within the rooms department must occur in a specific order. For example, when a guest checks out, the front office must inform housekeeping so that the room may be cleaned or housekeeping cannot properly provision a guest room if the laundry does not supply enough clean towels or bed sheets. Engineering cannot replace a defective light switch in a guest room if housekeeping does not report the problem. Effective management of this busy department calls for standardized plans, procedures, schedules, and deadlines, as well as direct communication between the executives who manage the rooms department.
Food & Beverage department
The food and beverage (F&B) department offers a variety of facilities to guests but concentrates mainly on the provision of food and drink. These services may be provided by coffee shops, snack bars, and speciality restaurants, and also by the banqueting and room-service departments. Hotel might also have a lounge, a nightclub, and a lobby bar. On a busy day (or night), it is quite likely that functions will be booked in many outlets at the same time. In addition, some outlets may have multiple events scheduled for a single day. There is great diversity in the types of activities performed by a food and beverage department, requiring a significant variety of skills on the part of its workers. Because of that, the food and beverage department is typically split into subunits. The executive chef runs the food production, or kitchen, department. A variety of culinary specialists who are responsible for different aspects of food preparation report to the executive chef. The actual serving of food in a large hotel’s restaurants is usually the responsibility of a separate department, headed by the assistant food and beverage director. The food service department is composed of the individual restaurant and outlet managers, maitre d’s, waiters, waitresses, hostesses, and bus help. Very often, the reputation of the hotel’s kitchen will increase its business. The stewarding department is responsible for cleaning the food and beverage outlets themselves as well as of washing pots and pans, dishes, glasses.
It is only through continuous cooperation and coordination that a hotel’s food service function can be carried out effectively. A guest who is dining in a hotel restaurant requires the joint efforts of the kitchen, food service, beverage, and stewarding departments.
Maintenance refers to repairs that are made to upkeep of the hotel. This involves painting, plumbing, repairing broken furniture and so on. Nowadays the utility conservation is one the most importnat objectives of the maintenance department. With the cost of energy increasing, the level of the hotel’s water, electricity, and gas consuption must be under control.
Personnel and training (human resources) department
The human resources department plays a vital role in a hotel’s efficient operation. The three functions of the human resources department are employee recruitment, benefits administration, and training. Hotels nowadays tend to put more effort into the training and development of their staff, and into revising their recruitment policies in order to retain their existing workforce. The director of human resources is also expected to be an expert on federal and state labour laws and to advise managers in other departments on these topics. The human resources department’s major challenge is in its interactions with other hotel departments. Although the human resources department recruits, interviews, and screens prospective employees, the final hiring decision is made by the department in which the potential employee will be working. The same is true of promotion and disciplinary decisions; the human resources department’s input is, in most cases, limited to advice and interpretation of legal questions. The human resources department’s effectiveness depends on its manager’s ability to form effective working relationships with managers of other departments.
The main responsibilities of the general manager are:
· Participating in the formulation of hotel policies and strategies
· Implemenings hotel policies and strategies
· The overall performance of the hotel.
· Coordinating the work of all departments.
In addition to being in charge of overseeing all of the departments, the hotel’s general manager is responsible for defining and interpreting the policies established by top management. In addition to thorough understanding of each operating department in the hotel, the general manager must also be decisive, analytical, and skilled with both computers and people. He or she must be able to see the big picture and how all of the parts of the hotel fit into the overall organisation. In my view, the main characteristics that a good manager should have are leadership and organizational skills.
The hotel industry is highly people oriented. Hotel’s reputation is easily made or destroyed by its level of customer service. Guests can forgive an occasional shortcoming if the level of service is exceptional. For this reason, it is essential that the hotel management provides training programs to assist their employees in addressing customers’ expectations. Customer service training helps ensure that guests’ expectations are exceeded. In a 5-star hotel, expectations are very high, and a trusting bond can be quickly established if the hotel employees are sensitive to guest needs.
The teaching and training new employees in front office operations is difficult. The front office is the first and usually the most vital impression of the hotel, that is why hotels are reluctant to allow inexperienced staff to train using real customers and real problems. The use of case studies instead of real-life experience is a useful and practical method in this situation.
Customer service training gives the employees the means to understand what is expected of them as representatives of the establishment and identifies what guests expect from their visit. Seeing the process from the guest’s point of view helps employees meet or exceed expectations. Training is a major influence on the success of an organisation. Staff are crucial, but expensive, resource. In order to sustain economic and effective performance it is important to optimize the contribution of employees to the aims and goals of the organisation.
Good managers must be good coaches who know how to encourage staff to raise their performance at work, improve their knowledge, and realize their full potential. Coaching is inherent in the whole management process and should not be confined simply to performance reviews and annual appraisals. As a manager, take an initiative by setting staff goals, by regularly encouraging staff to achieve higher standards, and by discussing any strengths or weaknesses. As the people being coached gain in confidence and performance, they will take on more responsibility for setting personal targets for improving at work.
Training serves three purposes: teaching, strengthening skills needed, and motivating staff as they become more competent.
teach strengthen motivate
Although hotels often attempt to employ fully qualified individuals who require little or no training, training is usually essential for new organisation members as well as for seasoned managers, who require improved skills to advance in the organisation. Employees at all levels: operative, technical, and managerial will require some training at one or more points in their careers.
On-the-job training is the method of learning the specifics of a job in the actual work environment. It is the most commonly used training program and I think the most effective, especially within hospitality business.
The benefits of training
The purpose of training is to improve knowledge and skills, and to change attitudes. This can lead to many potential benefits for both individuals and the organisation. Training can:
· Increase the confidence, motivation and commitment of staff
· Provide recognition, enhanced responsibility, and the possibility of increased pay and promotion.
· Give a feeling of personal satisfaction and achievement, and broaden opportunities for career progression
· Help to improve the availability and quality of staff.
Good training enables the manager to build people’s capability, which will often have remarkable results. Training should be viewed as an investment in people; it must be real, operational and rewarding. Training requires the co-operation of line managers, adequate finance and resources, time, skilled staff and a supporting appraisal system.
The hospitality industry operates in a very competitive environment with rapidly changing consumer requirements. In order to meet these consumer trends a lot more emphasize should be given to the hotel staff. Hotel staff’s behavior should say they care about and respect their customers, colleagues and employees. In customer's mind, there is often little difference between one hotel and the competitor's. What make the hotel stand out are the professional touches—the manners. Manners are a form of communication. The slightest lapse can cost money. Good business etiquette equals higher revenue.
Here are examples of good manners successful professionals display:
· Address clients formally, be polite and smile.
· Dress appropriately for customers.
· Understand the customs of international guests.
· Turn cell phones off.
· Send brief e-mails that are clear and spelled correctly.
· Do not "overindulge" at company or industry events.
· Do not criticize co-workers in front of clients.
· Do not tell potentially offensive jokes in front of customers and co-workers.
· Attend industry functions to focus on the customers, not for the food and drink.
I’ve been working as a hostess in the Rickshaw restaurant in the Corinthia Towers Hotel for more than a year. It’s a great opportunity to see how the food & beverage department in a five-star hotel really operates. Our restaurant is rated the best Asian restaurant in Prague, and it was awarded with Seven Stars and Stripes award. Before I started my work the manager introduced me to the restaurant staff, showed me the kitchen, the dining area, explained me my duties and responsibilities and gave me a list of useful information that included basic hotel description, important phone numbers and telephone standards. It took me about a week to learn and remember all my duties and be able to work without any guidance. From my personal point of view, I can say that even though I’d learned all that I was assigned the first week of my work, I’m still learning new things because I have a direct contact with customers. Training is a really long-lasting and never-ending process. I was impressed by the high standard of the staff, the commitment to work and desire to satisfy customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. For example, eye glasses that we can offer to our guests in case they have forgotten theirs, the green tea that we serve as a welcome drink and pour it from the beautiful Chinese teapot, the whole atmosphere in the restaurant is very relaxing and welcoming. And it’s not only the excellent oriental cuisine that is prepared by the professional Thai chef, but also the wait staff’ service that make people come back to our restaurant.
In my opinion hospitality and all its segments will need a more efficient and sophisticated structures due to growing competition, high customer’s expectations, globalization and fast-changing world economy. The future success of a hotel depends on the ability to foresee and being open-minded for new changes. The key organisational trends nowadays are: visionary leadership, globalization, diversity, flexibility, flat structure, customer focus, zero defects, and being in the information fast lane. The organisation must be able to respond to increasingly globalized sales and labour market.
Diversity means the organisation must respond to a workforce that is heterogeneous sexually, racially, and chronologically; innovation and conflict/communication issues; and different styles of interaction, dress, presentation, and physical appearance.
Flexibility in the modern hotel organisation means assuring that systems, processes, and people can respond differently to different situations; fewer detailed rules and procedures; greater autonomy and encouragement of initiative; and lifetime employability rather than lifetime employment.
The trend toward flatness in hotel organisations means fewer levels of management, workers empowered to make decisions, and fewer differences in responsibility. Traditional organisations that follow well-documented rules must be raplaced by modern ways of organisation that can balance discipline and flexibility.
A customer focus must reflect business decisions at all levels of developing and operating a hotel organisation.
Hotel services are based primarily on people, not on computers or other equipment. It is very difficult to meet the standard of zero defects in service. Today customers expect a consistent and predictable level of service wherever he or she traveled, that is the standard, not the exception, as is the expectation of sophisticated technology in hotel rooms to support business needs.
Today’s hotel organisation must recognize the need for visionary leadership. A focus on leadership in ideas, information, inspiration, vision, and teamwork is more applicable todays than the old command-and-control model of leadership.
Being in the information fast lane is critical. The role of information technology is not only in back office support for accounting and reservation systems. Information technology today influences all aspects of business from corporate strategies to organisational structure. Information technology must enable organisations to react faster to market needs and fulfill the customer demands both quickly and accurately. Information technology delivers, but it has to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.
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2. Jeremy Huyton, Sue Baker, Pam Bradley. Hotel management and operations. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2001. ISBN 1844800903, 9781844800902.
3. R. K. Malhotra. Encyclopaedia of Hotel Management and Tourism. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 1997. ISBN 8174884882, 9788174884886.