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A day in the life of a Front of House Manager

Monday, 14th May 2018

Cathryn Watson
Front of House Manger, The Barton Grange Hotel

I’ve worked at the hotel for 13.5 years now and being the front of house manager is a hugely responsible role.  I think of myself as the Barton Grange Hotel’s ambassador of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbyes’.  I am the first person a guest sees when they arrive, and often the last Barton Grange Hotel ‘face’ they see as they leave.  For me, this is a crucial role to play.  Guests will always remember a great welcome to our Hotel, and when heading home, that friendly smile and chat as they leave is a wonderful parting memory.

I begin my day at the Hotel at 7.00am, where I start working on the reception desk dealing with guests checking-out. The first thing I do is catch up with the night team to go through what’s happened since I left the night before, and if there’s anything urgent that I need to action.  I also catch up with my team and emails, phone messages and any other enquiries that have come in overnight.   Once I’ve dealt with them, we have a morning team meeting with all departments and our General Manager, Daniel Rich, and then it’s back to my reception desk.

We are a very busy department and, as the summer holiday season kicks in, the workload increases.  We have guests checking in throughout the day, alongside guests visiting the Hotel for meetings and weddings, or dining in the Walled Garden restaurant.  With the addition of our new beauty rooms, we are also seeing many more people just stopping-by for coffee after a spa treatment.  Plus, with the launch of our sister project, the Flower Bowl leisure complex this summer, I think we will get even busier!  For example, guests will be able to book tickets for the Flower Bowl’s cinema or bowling with our ‘virtual concierge’ service, and then have complimentary transport to the Flower Bowl.  It’s created a lot of interest already, and I can only see this increasing.

Most days there’s an event taking place at the Hotel.  From weddings to christenings, to birthday parties to corporate events.  As the reception manager I know exactly what’s happening in the Hotel hour by hour, so we can ensure that every guest knows where they should be, and how to get there!  Customers tend to come to the reception as soon as they enter the Hotel to ask directions and any queries about their stay, so it’s a busy place to be.  I think of it as the heart of the Hotel.  I love it though, as the time flies by!

I’m often asked what it takes to become a reception manager, and my top tips are: 1 – gain a qualification in hospitality or work in a hotel beforehand so you know exactly how a hotel business works; 2 –be able to stay calm under pressure, always be happy and smile at everyone who comes in and out of the Hotel. If there is a busy check-in or large group arriving all at the same time, I focus on delivering the best service I can to every individual; 3 – be pro-active – thinking and planning ahead is vital.  We work on events and guest stays months before they take place and ensuring you have dealt with any potential issues well ahead of a stay is key; 4 – be very organised in terms of your own work load and your team’s.  We have several systems in place designed to guide a smooth check-in/out, so following them is important; 5 – you must be a team player, can work well with all different types of people and adopt a ‘can do’ attitude.

As the day progresses, we have more guest’s checking-in, so my role is very much to liaise with the housekeeping team so that we know which guest rooms are cleaned and available.  We can then allocate rooms to specific guests – some regular clients have favourite rooms!  I will often deliver ‘on the job’ training in the afternoon, or catch up on any outstanding paperwork, plan any special guest requirements and manage rotas for the coming weeks.  After a brief update with our general manager, Daniel Rich, and a last run through our evening arrivals lists, my day is over.

I hand over to the night team and ensure that they are aware of any guest’s special requirements, and which guests will be arriving late for check-in.  Then home……ready to re-charge for another day tomorrow.

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