Travel Tips: Secrets of a Front Desk Agent – Part II

September 15, 2015
Christina Nguyen
6 min read

It’s hard work being a front desk agent. It’s more than just checking people in and out of rooms. There’s a reason why you usually see young people at the front desk, and it is because there is a high turnover rate. The best thing you can do is treat them like a person and tell them they’re doing a great job. That’s why this week’s tips from a real hotel front desk agent are about how to get what you want from your hotel stay. You can read the previous post of the series here

Making the front desk agent your new best friend. 

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When staying at a hotel, if you are looking for a certain standard to your stay experience, it’s important to make friends in the right places. One of the most important tips to getting what you want from a hotel stay is to get close to the front desk agent. It may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be shocked at how these workers get chewed out by guests day in and day out. There is even an online community where they share stories about their ridiculously awful encounters. Sometimes, when you have high hopes for a trip and hiccups form along the way, it’s easy to forget yourself. Here are some tips on how to make the front desk agent your friend.

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It’s close to 11pm and a woman walks up to my desk to check in. My shift is nearly over, and I’m drained from the entire day. I greet the guest and go about the registration process as usual.

“I like your necklace,” she says.

“Oh, thank you so much! These are special beads my sister got for me when she visited India but I don’t remember the names. One is a stone and the other is a seed,” I respond while finding her reservation on the system.

“Yes, that seed is called Rudraksha and the stone is Sphatik,” she responds with a smile. “It’s a very beautiful mala and suits your energy well.”

We bond over some small talk, and I thank her for the names of the beads that I frequently forget. She writes them down for me as I finish making her room keys and offer her a wake-up call in the morning. She accepts the offer, but before I can enter it into the computer she immediately has a few other questions about the nearby restaurants and where certain hotel amenities are. As I guide her in the direction of her room, she thanks me by name and requests help for a taxi ride tomorrow. Happily, I promise I will set the ride up for the needed time and place, wish her a wonderful stay, then she goes on her way.

“You were wonderful, Christina. And don’t forget about the wake-up call at 6:00am, please.”

1. A compliment goes a long way

I almost did forget to add that wake-up call because of the extra questions immediately following. Even after she reminded me before heading to her room I still almost forgot due to setting up her taxi ride appointment, and admittedly being distracted at the impending end of my shift. I kept thinking about the happy check-in, however, and hoping for a good review, I luckily remembered to add the wake-up call before leaving. After this encounter, any time I saw her around the property I was sure to greet her and tried much harder to make sure she was receiving outstanding service. I take pride in my job to always strive for great service, but this woman’s good graces was something I didn’t want to lose. The key is to make it a genuine compliment, smile, and use their name. While this guest complimented my necklace, she also acknowledged my service skills. Try mentioning to the agent that it’s a tough job being at the desk and you commend them for their strength. If you’ve busted out your nicest complimentary guns and it’s not a hit with the agent, perhaps their jaded mood due to the high stress levels at the moment.

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2.Timing is everything

Take a look around. Is there a long line behind you? Are the phones ringing off the hook? The front desk experiences busy times in waves. If the situation answers yes to the questions, your agent may not be registering your friendship request because it’s far too busy. Offer to come back a little bit later when the rush is gone. You can go enjoy your day a little bit and call the desk while out to ask them how it’s going. If they don’t even answer then you know it’s not a great time to ask for special requests. If there’s no one waiting then you can head back over with the added bonus of the front desk feeling like you care. Another positive reason to come back later is you might get an entirely new agent. Perhaps the first one just didn’t have the hospitality spirit. Chatting up a different front desk agent may help you find someone a bit more willing to help. Come after a shift-change for a surefire way to a fresh face. Hotels generally run the desk in three shifts: from 7am to 3pm, 3pm to 11pm, and graveyard from 11pm to 7am, with a few middle shift extras if the hotel is better staffed. If you spoke to someone unfriendly at check-in time around 2pm, try to come back at 8pm for the evening staff while most hotel guests are already out to dinner.

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3. Tips can be a game-changer

If you want a view of the strip in Las Vegas, the underground secret is you slip a $20 to the agents and make the request. If they can do it for you they keep the tip and if they don’t have it available, they give it back. Things may have changed since I heard this story years ago and so it may take quite a bit more than that depending on the hotel and the person. Of course, it is the agent’s job to provide a certain level of service without tips. However, they see a lot of people everyday, it’s a demanding job, and they’re only human. There is always a little bit more that they could be doing for you or some information you might be missing out on. You can bet your dollar they will do whatever they can to earn what you give them. The amount you give them is completely up to you, as it really doesn’t take much to perk up a workday. It happens often enough that they will know what how to handle the situation, but if you feel a bit too awkward a tip doesn’t have to be monetary! If you have a certain request, offer to mention their name in a positive review on TripAdvisor or the hotel’s own survey system. Often times hotels give perks to employee who receive praise online.

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In the end, remember that front desk agents are people. By treating them as such they may go out of their way to being closer to a travel guide than just an anonymous staff member to you. These tips are the ways to getting the most out of your hotel, but if you would like information on how to get the most out of the actual trip visit our post about organizing group trips and why group travel is the way to go. Keep coming back to WeTravel for more stories and travel tips, and don’t forget to check out the latest trips you can go on with a seasoned local.