Many hotels have valet service, bell service, and a good team at the front desk but still, fail to provide a great arrival experience. The main problem is that the three teams do not work together as one team with the guest’s interest at heart. While the valet attendant, the bellman, and the guest service agent may all do a great job individually, the guest sees the arrival as one experience and may be frustrated.
The solution is communication… communication between associates and the guest. Here is how the ultimate arrival experience takes place:
A guest pulls up to the hotel and is immediately greeted by the valet attendant. The valet attendant welcomes the guest to the hotel and offers luggage assistance. The valet attendant does the normal tasks such as filling out a luggage ticket and asking the guest his/her name. The valet attendant loads up all of the luggage onto a bell cart and escorts the guest to the front entrance of the hotel. The valet attendant is then ready to hand off the guest to the waiting bellman.
Here is where the first important communication is required. The valet attendant should introduce the guest to the bellman and the bellman to the guest by saying something like “Mr. Smith, this is John. He is going to assist you with the check-in and then escort you up to your room”. We also recommend that the valet attendant discretely hands the bellman a small card with the guest’s name on it. Hopefully, the valet attendant got the guest’s name when the guest first pulled up.
Now the bellman can escort the guest to the front desk to check-in. Again, here is where communication is key. The bellman should introduce the guest to the GSA and the GSA to the guest by saying something like “Hello Lisa, this is Mr. Smith. He has a reservation for this evening.” Again, the bellman can refer to the card the valet attendant gave him if the name is difficult. Lisa can then handle the check-in while the bellman waits off to the side. Once the guest is checked in, the bellman is ready to escort the guest to the room. The bellman can escort the guest to the room, tell the guest about the hotel’s amenities, and thank him/her for staying at the hotel.
Among the highlights of the ultimate arrival experience:
The valet attendant, the bellman, and the GSA all used the guest’s name twice for a total of six times before the guest even gets to the room. The guest will immediately feel expected, respected, and like a VIP.
The guest only had to tell one associate his/her name. This will truly make the guest feel valued as a repeat guest.
The guest will actually be introduced to the associates and see how they are working together to take care of him/her. The guest will automatically know that if anything else is needed, he/she already met two or three associates that will take care of his/her needs immediately.
Now, compare that arrival experience to what our mystery shoppers experience most of the time. The guest arrives at the hotel and is greeted by the valet attendant. The valet attendant asks the guest for his/her name but does not use it. The valet attendant calls the bellman to bring a bell cart. The guest waits for the bellman. The valet attendant does not introduce the bellman to the guest or tell the bellman the guest’s name. The guest goes on his own to check in completely unsure of what is happening with his luggage. The guest has to introduce himself again to the GSA. The GSA checks him in and tells him how to get to the room. The guest waits for the bellman to show up with the luggage and escort him to the room.
The way that most hotels operate valet parking and bell services, it is more of a hassle than a benefit. It takes longer and is frustrating to have to keep explaining what you need to three different associates who do not communicate. With this ultimate arrival experience, your arrival scores will soar.
Don’t forget; stay flexible to account for different business levels. Here are a few more tips:
If your hotel does not outsource valet parking, consider having the valet attendant handle the bell services as well. Then a guest only has to work with one associate.
Make sure all three departments are also sharing information such as arrival lists and VIP lists. It sounds like a no-brainer but often the valet or bell team are completely out of the loop.
Find a solution for how the tips are handled. Often tips get in the way of providing good service. Valet attendants don’t want to do much work upon arrival because they will not get a tip. Upon departure, bellman and valet attendants both hang around waiting for a tip. It is very tacky.
Avoid any duplication of duties. If a bellman is escorting a guest to a room, the GSA should not mention the amenities at check-in or tell the guest how to get to the room. The bellman will have plenty of time during the elevator ride and walk down the hallway to explain everything.
If you really want to go all out, have a PMS terminal for the bellman to use and allow them to check in their guest and completely skip the front desk altogether. Now that is the ultimate arrival experience!