Shuttles are the new front desk20 Jun, 2013 By: Elliott Mest Hotel and Motel Management
|Guests are urged by drivers not to board shuttles until they are prepared to depart, and are informed that shuttles are always in transit.|
First impressions are everything, especially for travelers coming to a hotel fresh off a flight. For these guests, meeting personable hotel staff directly at the airport can set the tone for their entire stay before they even set foot in the lobby.
“For us, the front desk is no longer the first impression for guests. It’s the shuttle driver,” said Kathryn Menio, director of front-desk operations for the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel. “Guests need to be greeted by someone familiar with hospitality, which is what we will look for in our drivers. Finding them is the secret; you cannot train genuine hospitality.”
Leslie Tune, the director of operations for the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Amelia Island, Fla., recommends holding pre-shift meetings specifically for transportation staff to know who is coming to the property. This allows drivers to prepare themselves for guests’ expectations before their first encounter. “Shuttle drivers are often the first contact between guests and the property,” Tune said. “Airport transfers give us 40-minute blocks of interaction to make ourselves known to the guest.”
During trips to locations on the property, shuttle drivers can give guests an overview of the surrounding area and can help recommend places to eat or visit during a guest’s free time.
Though the Hilton Boston Logan property offers complimentary transportation to and from the local airport, as well as trips to a water taxi, special requests can be made with pre-bookings available. During larger meetings-based excursions, group leaders are in direct contact with shuttle drivers. By ensuring that the same driver who dropped them off is there to pick them up, the process is smoother and helps build relationships with the hotel.
“With good communication, we are also able to run our shuttles more efficiently on a schedule,” Menio said. “We tell our guests not to board a shuttle unless they are ready to take off at that moment, so when a guest boards and says they are still waiting for someone, our drivers are personable enough to convince them that another shuttle is on the way.”
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