On being nice

I shared on Facebook last week my delightful check-in experience at The Hilton East Midlands, after a long day of disrupted travel and cancelled meetings.

Staggering through the door after 2 planes, a bus, a train, a taxi and a 16-hour shift, I was welcomed by Alice.

Alice lit up my day in a way that was shareworthy.

Let’s just remind ourselves how Hilton do their training for receptionists.

  1. a residential course at The Hilton Academy working at a mock-up front desk
  2. an apprenticeship beside an experienced receptionist at another hotel before…
  3. you “get your wings” and are allowed on the front desk at your home location

During this schooling period, you are taught the 38-step check-in system contained in the Hilton Brand Standards Manual (BSM).

There are BSM’s for every department in Hilton – concierge, conferencing, restaurant, housekeeping.

The 38-steps in the BSM are both performance and behaviour related.

The performance steps are about getting me checked into my room quickly and safely.

The behavioural steps are where the system comes to life for the guest:

  • If the guest has stayed at the hotel before, welcome them “back” to the Hilton;
  • Use the guest’s name at least three times during the check-in process;
  • Make eye contact;
  • Smile:
  • Ask if they have had a good day or travelled far;
  • If the guest has a loyalty card, then thank them for their loyalty and offer appropriate upgrades (for me that means an Executive Room and complimentary wifi);
  • Show genuine interest;
  • Enquire as to their travel arrangements the next day and whether you can be of help;
  • Use your initiative if you can go the extra mile.

The list goes on – but in its purest form is a system for being nice.

Four Seasons hotels call this The Golden Rule:

do unto others as you would have them do unto you

I’ll bet Alice isn’t earning any more than a dental receptionist – nor the barista who served me at St Pancras late last night and offered my coffee free of charge, just because I smiled at her.

But Alice and the barista have a system that includes being nice to people – no matter what mood you are in or what is going on back-stage.

Being nice is free and makes both parties feel good.

It’s essential to have a system for being nice when your business is like a three-ring circus a lot of the time.

Sadly, in the absence of a system, there are some people on reception who don’t think that “nice” is part of their job spec.

That’s when the thousands you spend on branding and marketing may as well be poured down the grid.

Alice is a wonderful brand ambassador for Hilton, as were the barista and the young lady who supervised my check-in a The Premier Inn last night – not as swish but equally nice.

It makes such a difference.

Are your Front Desk team systematically nice?


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.