• To explore the generic skills required by the front-office staff in luxury hotels.
• To highlight the managerial perspective regarding the significance of foreign language as an additional proficiency w.r.t. the front office staff.
• To comprehend the issues and challenges encountered by the front-office staff to attain foreign language proficiency.
• To examine the steps undertaken by the management of luxury hotels to develop this expertise.
GENERIC SKILLS REQUIRED BY THE FRONT-OFFICE STAFF
As per theCentre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (August 2005), the generic skills required by the front office staff can be categorized as follows:
The front line staff has to greet guests in a friendly and approachable manner as they enter the hotel, thank guest for the stay and invite them to return, give guests any messages being held, acknowledge concern, apologize for inconvenience, interact with customers to resolve service problems, respond to medical emergencies, e.g. reassure guest, empathize, answer phones to make reservations, transfer calls, read incoming faxes/e-mails from clients to make reservations, ensure that all the required information is provided.
The front line staff has to know how to operate in-room safe: answer guest’s questions about use of safe, inform guests about safety measures and procedures, describe how to use portable fire extinguishers, determine operating guidelines [to operate office equipment]: attend training sessions; obtain assistance from supervisor or coworkers, review safety guidelines of property, for example: participate in fire drills and training sessions.
The front line staff has to inform guest of hotel foreign currency exchange rate, inform other departments of early and late check-outs, e.g. guest services, housekeeping, contact trained personnel through emergency number, call security department or police if security problems or concerns arise, suggest events and attractions that meet guest’s needs, if authorization [for credit card] is declined: inform guest [and] arrange for alternate form of payment, deal with disgruntled guests who were not told in advance that they would be charged for any mini bar items used. Then explain the policy, and, if necessary, offer a good will gesture such as a discount, to make amends, notify maintenance of potential hazards, for example:, frayed electric cords, loose flooring, faulty alarms, inform guests about safety measures and procedures: ask guest to use double locks on room doors; encourage guest to ask questions, e.g. ask to see employee’s identification.
The front line staff has to be familiar with specific events and attractions around property and area, describe main features, for example, hours and days of operation, costs, provide necessary information to group leader or entire group, for example: directions to facilities and rooms; luggage handling procedures; location of information board; guest restrictions, e.g. use of telephones, orient new employees, assign routine tasks to other workers, liaise with other departments, for example: ask sales department about upcoming promotions and events; ask food and beverage outlets about special promotions, e.g. daily specials, participate in staff meetings to discuss hotel policies and offer suggestions to improve guest services, participate in formal discussions about work processes or product improvement.