One of the most overlooked career paths in the hotel industry is Guest Services. This job has many labels. It may include Director of Residential Operations, client experience specialist, fitness coordinator, Amusement Technician, recreation manager, activities supervisor, or activities director. Part of the reason hospitality management candidates do not see this as a career path is the fact that different hotels use different terms.
The Guest Services manager may work at the front desk, make sure pamplets are readily available to guests, and run reports. But if your career goal includes reaching the level of Director or General Manager then you need to understand the ‘unwritten’ job description.
A good Guest Services Manager takes responsibility for the entire guest experience. They work to become the first and the last point of contact with the guest. You are the friendly person who has time to listen to them. You are the personal touch.
A front desk clerk takes reservations, hands out keys, and smiles. A good Guest Services manager will also remind them when breakfast is served, what events are happening in town, What amenities the hotel offers. They are the concierge. You know what the most recent complaints are, both inhouse and from the online tourist websites.
This is the job for someone who enjoys long hours and staying busy. Management education is beneficial especially if you want to work in a high end hotel or resort, or earn a higher salary. But, this position can help you break into the hotel management field with little or no education. The starting pay for ‘entry’ level is little more than minimum wage, but a job in guest services provides the foundational understanding for how the entire hotel works.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor is tracking a 2 – 4 percent increase in jobs by 2026. This equals 40,900 job openings.
For many guests, the Front Desk staff are the only hotel staff they will meet. They are the ‘host/hostesses’. They build customer loyalty by building an emotional connection with customers. They are proactive, always looking ahead and fixing problems, or improving services before it becomes a problem.
It is easy to divide the good from the great. The good will smile at guests and is polite. The great will ask them if they need anything brought to their room. The good agent will coordinate room status updates with housekeeping, attends meetings, and reports to the manager.
The great agent will track housekeeping complaints and make it easier for housekeepers to do their job. They may even do a quick sweep of the rooms for those ‘things’ often overlooked. If a guest does complain the great customer service agent will already have a complimentary gift in the back room to make things right. They know where to buy tickets, where to eat late at night, and the first place to get breakfast in the morning. They may even know where children can be entertained for an hour, not the typical tourist outlets, but maybe a reading hour at the local library, or where the ‘stuff a bear’ store is.
Skills and Abilities
Work on your phone voice. Yes, those people with good telephone skills have actually taken voice lessons and were coached. They have some hotel management education. Coaching, negotiating, interpersonal, and motivational skills all help.
And, what career path can this work up to? A great Customer Service Agent or management may eventually find themselves working as a Casino Host/Hostess in one of the top Casinos in America.