CPD PROJECT SYNOPSIS
This report will address an interpersonal communication problem with the scope of study focused on the hospitality industry, specifically, hotels. The team has decided to explore the topic of creating a positive nonverbal first impression in the front office context while performing a check-in procedure.
The tourism industry has been identified as one of the fastest growing sector that contributes a sizeable portion to Singapore’s economy. In 2016 alone, Singapore received more than 16 million visitors (Singapore Tourism Board, 2017). Sentosa, the main attraction hub in Singapore, comprises many five-star hotels such as Hotel Michael, Treetop Loft, Festive Hotel and Hard Rock Hotels. Besides the aesthetics and products being offered in these hotels, service is the key focal point, where true hospitality begins from the heart by creating a positive first impression.
Hence, this project will focus on interpersonal communication problem existing in E Hotel Resort World Sentosa, a five-star hotel situated on the southern tip of Singapore within Sentosa. E Hotel is the latest addition to the Resort World Sentosa collection of hotels and recently opened its doors to public in 2012 (corporate citation from EH/ corporate website, 2017). Besides offering the perfect getaway for both nature lovers and families, it is also located in close proximity to some of Asia’s best attractions such as the Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A Aquarium.
The project focuses on the way a front office agent in a hotel creates a positive and lasting first impression. It emphasizes on the nonverbal aspects of communication such as appearances which is known to influence social interaction which leads to further repercussions (Wolffhechel et al., 2014).
In general, individuals are evaluated by those who are forming a first impression. These first impressions have been characterized as difficult to overturn, making those first encounters extremely vital (Mann, 2016). This is of importance, especially in the hotel industry, as first impressions help to set the tone for all the relationships that follows.
The focal issue is on how a front office associate should portray a positive first impression. As E Hotel strives to be the leading hotel in service excellence, the hotel must take the first step in providing adequate training for the employees on how to create a good positive impression.
Portraying positive first impression is of high importance especially in the hotel industry. This is because front office agents are the brand advocates of the hotel and are the first point of contact between the hotel and guests. Hence, when guest visit the hotel, they will develop an impression of the hotel within the first few seconds based on their interaction with the front office agent.
In that slice of time, they will judge the associate in various ways which may affect the way they perceive a hotel and that impression formed is difficult to change. This puts the hotel’s brand reputation at risk and might result in negative comments on the hotel’s social media such as on Facebook, Instagram and Trip Advisor.
Should customers check a property’s social media before deciding on staying with them, the negative comments posted might affect the way they perceive the hotel and even affect their decision to stay. This factor along with customer satisfaction will be affected which will eventually lead to a decrease in revenue. Future customers will hence, form a bias even before visiting the hotel and this will lead to a devastating effect in the long run.
5.OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
The objective of the study is to educate the future front office agents on the importance of creating a positive first impression during the check-in procedure. It aims to educate the agents on the proper code of conduct on how they should carry themselves in workplace setting. This emphasises on nonverbal aspects which includes both grooming standards, body posture.
According to Hognas (2015), one of the most important things that guests pay attention to upon check-in, is whether the employee in the reception notices and greets them. More than often, a bad impression is formed if the front desk agent did not pay attention to them. Therefore, it is vital for hotels to come up with training programmes to educate the employees on the importance of first impression.
An individual’s words often suggest a message but his or her body language could send a conflicting signal. Understanding body language is a talent that can help increase one’s successes in life. Individuals will be able to recognize the way the other party feels and think through the examination of their body language. Thus, it is vital for front office agents to learn how to interpret body language of their guests as well as know how to display positive body language. Front office agents should learn how to present themselves properly through body movements, provide guests with full eye contact, good facial expressions and gestures as it allows one to read into a person’s genuine intentions.
It is suggested that training programme could be in place to educate front office agents on the Dos and Don’ts of front office employee in a five star hotel setting. This includes the way the employee present themselves in terms of their grooming standards and body language. The human resource manager would be in charge of educating the front office agents on how to display a positive first impression through the nonverbal communication such as greeting guests, providing a firm handshake, good eye contact and body posture. Besides, grooming standards would be a good topic to educate the employees as well, which includes having a neatly pressed uniform, lipstick, name tag attached on correct side of uniform and hair neatly tied up.
Training programme would be scheduled for new hires to attend during orientation week with the hotel. This will better allow them to understand the standards of the hotel and what is to be expected. From time to time, senior employees would also have to attend the training session to reinforce their knowledge and to ensure that they stay relevant and updated.
7.BENEFITS OF THE WORKPLACE
Results showed that implicit revision emerged after the delay, even among those with poor explicit recall or who were not cued to recall (Mann, 2016). By emphasising the importance of providing a positive first impression for guests, it results in various benefits for the workplace, such as raising the confidence in employees and increases customer satisfaction which ultimately leads to increased overall profits.
The first benefit would be employees feeling good about themselves. Mr Deong mentioned that when employees are certain of their role and job scope, they appear to be more confident and they generally feel better about themselves. As a front office agent, confidence is key in this aspect. This boosts employee morale and makes the hotel a better and more conducive working environment.
Secondly, there would be an increase in customer satisfaction. According to Hognas (2015), when the customer enjoys the service and the result of the service, it in return provides the company with income, which is essential for the existence of the business. Hence, when front office agent creates a positive first impression for guests, they would be impressed with the level of service, and this increases their chances of returning back to the hotel to stay in the future.
Besides that, positive word-of-mouth would also be spread such as through reviews on TripAdvisor website or to their friends. This helps to create awareness for the hotel and with increased bookings, it ultimately increases the revenue stream for the hotel.
The methodology selected to find out how to create a first positive impression during the check-in process at a five-star hotel includes primary and secondary data collection. For primary data collection, a short interview session was conducted with the reception manager of E Hotel, Mr. David Deong.
This interview was conducted to find out the views on the importance of creating first impression during check-in, as well as some strategies to ensure perfect grooming and body language. Two face to face interviews were also conducted with front office agents of E Hotel to gather more information and gain further insights on the training programme the management provides them with on creating a positive first impression.
For secondary data collection, academic journals and online sources were being tapped on to gather information based on previous research to substantiate our points. In addition, data was also taken from the E hotel’s employee handbook on the certain grooming standards that an employee has to adhere to.
The hotel industry has been developing and transforming in the past decades. Coupled with the fact that there has been so much more increased competition in this industry, hotels no longer compete in the room aspects and facilities their properties is able to provide, but rather find a niche to work on such as focusing on the customer service aspect (Lahap et al., 2016). Customer service in the hotel industry is of significance as there is only one chance to create a positive first impression and brand image is especially important in any hotels. Hence, this project is meaningful and serves as an important focus that managers and leaders of hotel industry have to take special note of.
Overall, this project would allow us to further understand the importance of nonverbal communication especially in the context of the hotel setting. The focus on grooming and body language is vital especially for a front office agent because they represent the hotel and is the first point of contact that guests would have when they first arrive in the hotel. In essence, with training in place, it would allow front office agents to pick up the importance of grooming and body language, and to create a positive and lasting first impression for guests.
Hognas. (2015). The importance of the first impression in hotel customer service. Business Economics and Tourism. Retrieved from https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/96496/Sandra_Hognas.pdf?sequence=1
Lahap, J., Ramli, N. S., Said, N. M., Radzi, S. M., & Zain, R. A. (2016). A study of brand image towards customer’s satisfaction in the Malaysian hotel industry. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 224(IRSSM-6 The 6th International Research Symposium in Service Management), 149-157. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.05.430
Mann, T. C., & Ferguson, M. J. (2017). Reversing implicit first impressions through reinterpretation after a two-day delay. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 68122-127. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2016.06.004
Singapore Tourism Board. (2016). International visitor arrivals statistics, (December), 4–9.
Wolffhechel, K., Fagertun, J., Jacobsen, U. P., Majewski, W., Hemmingsen, A. S., Larsen, C. L., & … Jarmer, H. (2014). Interpretation of appearance: The effect of facial features on first impressions and personality. Plos ONE, (9), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107721