A hotel is often judged by the quality of service provided by its frontline staff.
Ivy Leung, human resources director of Langham Place Hotel, says to serve from the heart is vital to working in a hotel and other customer service sectors. "Our front office staff serve with the heart and think from the customer's point of view. I remember a case of a customer calling our front office to inform us he had accidentally broken a piece of glassware. Our staff were very concerned if he was injured and they offered to send help right away. The customer was really impressed. This `service from the heart' is something that cannot be taught. It is a value held by our staff," Leung says.
Newly hired frontline employees usually start as guest service agents with a monthly pay of no less than HK$10,000. "We prefer candidates with hotel-related educational background, but it is not a must. The important factors that we take into account are their communication skills and heart to serve. Good command of English and Mandarin is certainly a plus," Leung says.
To understand the hotel's operations, and become a front desk manager, one has to start from the bottom. Guest service agents take care of routine operations and have to be alert at all times as the job often involves handling cash and passports.
Guest service agents are promoted to senior guest service agent position, become assistant supervisors, then supervisors. They should be able to guide less experienced staff. The pay for assistant supervisors is between HK$16,000 and HK$18,000. The next level is duty managers who have to take care of customer inquiries and complaints and serve VIPs.
Outstanding performers can work their way up to front desk manager overlooking operations. The salary for this position can vary greatly, depending on the class and size of the establishment.
Hotel service is a 24/7 job and almost everybody has to do shift duty, including working overnight and on weekends. The front desk manager shows up on weekends to supervise big events or VIP visits.
According to Leung, job prospects for hotel people with front office experience are bright. "If front office staff wish to move on to other sectors, many customer-service-related industries such as banking and property management value individuals with hotel customer-service experience," she says.