When the golden sunshine breaks the darkness, the entire Hangzhou city quietly wakes up with the whisper of birds. And the lung of Hangzhou, the beautiful Xixi Wetland also emerges from the light fog. The hotel I’m working for, Banyan Tree Hangzhou is right next to the wetland, where is called the Westbrook Resort (Xixi Haven) now.
Hangzhou – The Heaven on Earth: The Lotus in West Lake
The Xixi Wetland
“Is this all I’ve been searching for, is this all I’ve been waiting for….” One of my favoured songs recently resounded in the room at 6:30 and I quickly mute it within 5 seconds. Slightly open my eyes and look around, luckily that my alarm didn’t wake up the other five roommates. At 6:45, my second alarm sounds and this time I really need to kiss my lovely bed and say goodbye to it.
The morning routine takes about 45 minutes to refresh myself. Of cause, the most important part is the makeup. As a profession front office staff, my appearance is also part of the first impression of the resort. Appropriate makeup makes me look fresh, smart, profession and friendly. Living in a residence with colleagues doesn’t give me the chance to cook breakfast myself, I have to grab a quick breakfast from the tiny food shop near the residence and finish it before I on board the shuttle bus 7:40.
Smile & Be Confidence
The sign in process is easy and quick with the finger print identify system. The locker room is already crowed at this moment, ladies from each department are standing in front of the mirror to do the final check of their appearance – makeup, hair and uniform – everything should meet the standards of Banyan Tree. With the beautiful Chinese style uniform, I finish the final check of my appearance before I enter the front house. Telling myself in my mind that “Crystal, get ready, work hard and enjoy the job”, the smile on my face gives me a great beginning and the confidence I need for my day.
There are lots of things to do when I arrival the front office. The first thing I do is to check the log book and chart with staffs who is working the morning shift to see if there’s any important information I need to know (what happened last night, any special request from guests, things that need to be follow up, & any message for other departments – especially the reservation and sales department). Then it is necessary to check the Opera system to know how many people will stay over, departure and arrive. This information is crucial in terms of create the first impression as it help us prepare our signature welcome drinks and towels.
Going over the profile of each guest prepares me for the later communication with other departments such as housekeeping and concierge. The white board in the office is always a helper that talks the small details of our daily operation. Making sure we have enough towels and drink for the morning, I’m ready for my shift at 8:30AM. Seems lots of things to do, the key is to check everything efficiently and get ready for the day.
Be the Operator and more…. the Guest Service
Answering phones sounds easy and simple, but that’s not the case for us in the Banyan Tree. The guest service agents who are actually doing lots of other things. The following is what I need to do:
1). Of course, transfer external/internal calls to different departments
2). Deliver the last night’s messages to the related departments
3). Record and deliver messages for other departments if they are busy and department heads if they are attending the morning meeting
4). Handle requests from the in house guests and arriving guests by contacting related departments and doing the follow up (clean the room, arrange transportation, order the In Suit/Villa Dining, late Check Out, & etc.)
5). Book Spa & restaurant appointments for guests if these outlets aren’t open yet
6). Be the information source for guests and potential guests (provide information like room types, room rate, facilities, location, direction, information of Xixi Wetland and Hangzhou, our promotions & etc.)
As front office staff, I need to know almost everything in the hotel which can influence the experience of each guest.
Banyan Tree Hanzghou
Lunch…With the General Manager
Although today is now the busiest day of the week, it is still a busy day for us in order to satisfy the guests’ requests and to assist everyone who calls the resort. Time flies and it’s time for lunch. Typical Hangzhou dishes are served in our staff cafeteria, which mostly use the local and signature Hangzhou ingredients. With my lunch, I seat beside the biggest table and wait for other colleagues and General Manager because I am invited to attend today’s GM meal.
This regular gathering with GM is always a good time to know the new colleagues, to know what’s happening in the hotel and to share our experience in the hotel. Great comments are shared to encourage us, but of course, the bad ones to motivate us to improve the service. The future plan of Banyan Tree is also mentioned to ensure we know the development of the brand and the opportunity of career development.
Gift from the GM meal: Fan with Our Map
The Peak of the Day – Make Teamwork Your Responsibility
The time between 12:30pm and 4:00pm is always the busy to time for us. If needed, like today, I will assist the resort hosts to check the rooms and place the personalized welcome card for arrival guests. Walking in the resort is also my small exercise for the day while enjoying the beautiful scene.
Making sure that the rooms, welcome drinks and towels are ready is crucial parts of the check-in preparation. Guests usually arrive after our afternoon briefing at 2:30pm. Knowing what’s happening in the resort prepares everyone for the rest of the day. When lots of guests arrive at the same time, teamwork always makes things go smoothly and easier. I greet the guests, serve the welcome drinks and towels and collect IDs. All of these help our resort hosts to efficiently check in guests while creating a great first impression.
Escorting guests to the suite/villa is always a fun job. The unobtrusive conversation during this period gives me the chance to introduce the resort, up sell the services we provide and notices some special wants and needs.
Be Trained or Train
It is more quiet after 3:15pm and several regular trainings (Trainings for English, Hangzhou’s Tourism Hotspots, local souvenirs ant etc.) usually are hold around 3:30pm while the bit of the day slow down. However, there is not training today so I use this time to teach the new employees in order to ensure they know the general information of the hotel. I’m responsible to ensure that they know the resort, and the services/products Banyan Tree Hangzhou offers before they learn the specific jobs from their mentors.
After the this, I will update the training manuals if I found something information is unclear or is not mentioned. This is also the time for the new staff to observe how to use proper language and how to handle some guest requests. However, I like to catch every possible chance throughout the day to teach them rather than making the training time boring.
Around 5:00pm, my shift is almost done. I double check the log book to ensure all the guests’ requests are done or need to be follow up. Then I record important issues on the operator’s book so that my colleagues can do the follow up later. The last thing I do is to set up the lobby for the night. The romantic set up of candle lights and rose makes the night of the resort an unforgettable experience.
Romantic Evening Set Up of the Lobby
Saying goodbye to my colleagues, a long day is ended and I am going to charge myself with the delicious Hangzhou cousin. Tomorrow is my day off so it’s time to explore this beautiful, city which is known as the “Heaven on Earth” in china. Ciao and have a sweet dream!
Life in Hangzhou
The Copper Museum: Copper Lotus
“Sir. Do you want more tea?”
The House of a Qing Dynasty’s Government Officer