For dozens of hotel professionals who are in the business and have gone on to mentor talented employees, many will enlighten you that one of the most important areas to work in is the Front Desk. Since it’s the ‘hotels’ smile’, the place where you get to experience the excitement of dealing with guests, the complexity of overseeing crisis situations and the control that comes from overseeing the communications centre for the hotel.

It’s a lively and fast-paced working environment and being part of this operational hotspot isn’t for the fainthearted.

When people travel for any cause, their basic needs are the same: a clean room and a relaxing bed in which to sleep, assurance in the safety of their lodgings, and helpful, friendly front desk staff from customer service agents to the porters and concierge who are polite, knowledgeable and expert in their duties.

Duties of a Front Office Manager: A hotel Front Office Manager is tasked with the well-organised and smooth administration of the entire front desk operation, as well as the staff who work there. The role is intended to oversee, manage and maintain various managerial, staffing and guest related queries.

The Front Office Manager in general trains reception and reservations staff and is the communicator between this valuable department and the General Manager or owner. It’s a very demanding role, which often requires a lot of multitasking. It is a very hands-on role and requires a positive leader who is not afraid to make vital decisions. He/she must be skilled enough to guide a team, support other departments and make sure that each and every guest has an unforgettable experience.

Duties Typically Include:

  • Overseeing and training front office staff for their job roles and motivating them to offer guests outstanding service.
  • Make sure the front desk present a specialised and friendly service for all guests of the hotel, not only the ones who are checking in.
  • Dealing with guest queries and complaints.
  • Organise the staff shifts for the week/month.
  • Troubleshooting crisis situations and finding proper outcomes
  • Managing cash, guest valuables

Front Office as a career: To be a successful, you must seek steady enhancement and self-evaluation in order to stay determined and give of your best. Great Front Office Managers know how to make their clients feel special without having to do or say much.

Attention to detail always impresses guests – from a special greeting and warm welcome to an upgrade or assistance with some photocopying. They appreciate how the guest cycle works from the preliminary point of a guest reservation to checkin, payment and departure. They know everyone’s role and persuade their teams to be clear, uphold principles and offer outstanding service.

Skills needed:

  • One must have outstanding communication skills both on the phone, in writing and in person
  • Have skill to handle tricky situations with a level head
  • Have the aptitude to multi-task and execute under pressure
  • Must have the capability to make judgment without fear

This is a very satisfying profession as it offers administrator and managers a chance to learn how to face challenges and grow in their professional skills on a daily basis.

Various front office jobs are available in resorts, hotels, game lodges, cruise ships, spas, golf clubs and many more venues. There is for all time a need for experienced front office staff to work both locally and abroad. Job succession includes Rooms Division Manager, Assistant General Manager or General Manager. Hours of work comprise shift work (6 am – 3 pm; 2 pm – 10 pm) or an 8 am – 5 pm role to supervise the smooth running of both shifts.

Qualification: For those who wish to practise in this field will need ample of practical knowledge on the Front Desk. Most Diploma courses accept students who have cleared their 10+2, though a few do accept students just out of high school. For PG Diploma course in Front Office Management, a candidate should have completed their graduation in any stream.

Remuneration: Graduates, diploma or PG diploma course can easily find jobs as front office executives, office assistants, typists, personal secretaries, customer service executives, and telephone operators.

Generally, a fresher in the field can get a package of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month and it increases with the experience.

Front office management is not only about ‘people’, aspects of a business but also about contribution efficient back-end support to employees and run operations of an office or a retail store.

Modern technology also finds a variety of uses in Front Office Management today, from number crunching to overseeing time to assisting customers and staff members efficiently.

The writer is chief marketing officer, co-director of CEDP Skill Institute, Mumbai.