8 common problems hotel employees have (and how they fix them)
Even those who are in the consummate customer service field of hospitality gripe about their job. Whether it’s those just starting out in non-management roles like housekeeping or the front desk, or those in more skilled posts such as sales and finance, there will always be problems that need attention and fixing. Read on for candid talk on such issues and how insiders would improve upon getting their work done.
1. Burnout: “Hotel jobs can be extremely taxing on a person’s mental health. Companies spend vast sums of money recruiting talent, yet once the talent has been brought in to the fold, many times, new employees are left to make their own way in the organization. While some large hotel chains offer benefits covering mental health care, employers can do more to reduce employee stress,” says Jimmy Wright, program coordinator who worked in hospitality for a decade.
2. Mentors needed: “Mentoring and professional development breaks down barriers between employee classes and promotes openness and a team culture. Such assistance allows employees an opportunity to see why things are managed the way they are, and how everything fits together in the hotel. This could result in fresh ideas for streamlining processes and increase employee satisfaction and productivity,” says Wright.
3. Avoid being pigeonholed: “This is especially a concern for second and third shift workers, who have little visibility or contact with strategic managers who tend to work day shift hours. It’s easy to fill undesirable scheduling holes with the same employees over and over, especially if they do good work, however, it’s critical for management to stay connected to these employees and to think of them when new opportunities arise. If an employee does good work in one area of the hotel, it’s quite possible he or she may excel in another as well,” says Wright.
4. Getting promoted: “While it is not always possible to promote employees for a variety of reasons, including financial or staffing stagnation, a good manager might tactfully help the motivated employee step-up to a better opportunity in the broader industry. Strong relationships between managers and employees create life-long networks that can pay off overtime for all parties,” says Wright.
5. Dealing with unclear policy (and unhappy guests): “The challenge of working with third-party websites, is that people (guests) may not read the cancellation or specific-hotel policies on the website. Guests unfortunately don’t realize that they are not guaranteed a specific room type when booking online. There isn’t much of a solution unless third parties become more willing to make these policies more obvious on their websites,” says Alyce Brown, hotel general manager. Kim Dennis, general manager of a Homewood Hotel, agrees. “Reservations and cancellation policies puzzle me. If it is the brand policy or third-party booking condition, I work to keep brand/policy integrity. Why then do brand or third-parties tell guests it’s is up to the hotel to refund no show or break non-cancellables, or waive late cancel fees? If you make a policy, and expect hotels to abide by it, then stand by it,” she says.
6. Not user-friendly: “There is lack of consistent innovation in the hotel space. There should be a seamless process from reservation to check-out … mobile enabled every step of the way,” says John Lipscomb, former brand manager for IHG.
7. Expectations are too high: “With owner expectations of a high profit margin and keeping variable expenses low, we run very lean operations these days. It’s hard to find good, customer-centric employees who are willing to work for pennies over minimum wage. It’s hard to be as customer-focused as you want to be with a skeleton crew,” says Amanda Singer, former trainer for IHG.
8. Managing unrealistic expectations: “Due to companies like Amazon and Google, customers think they can get anything they want. If they can’t, they tweet about it and will get it by complaining on social media. Today, we not only have to manage the performance of our teams, the day to day operations of the hotel, manage the expectations of our customers standing in our lobby, but also in our virtual lobby, who may not even be in house. They may have checked out, or haven’t even stayed with us yet. The online marketplace has added a significant level of complexity to not only the booking side of the industry, but the service side as well. I don’t have a solution… if I did, I’d be a millionaire,” says Singer.