REFLECTION: INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION ISSUE

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Ocean Suite 908 

I would like to share about an interpersonal communication problem that happened during my time working in Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). I was the guest services agent manning the ocean suite reception desk, providing services exclusively for guest staying in suites and villas. As guests are paying a premium for the stay,  they tend to be more demanding with high expectations of receiving quality hospitality, attention and benefits from the hotel. For example, early check-in and late departure are one of those common requests that I will receive on daily basis.

There are only 11 Ocean Suites available for booking. 908 is the suite strategically located in the middle of the stretch which is deemed to have the best view of the underwater sanctuary. Thus, it is constantly being blocked as show room in order to present the best to entice potential guests. One of my daily duties was to do room assignment as well as monitor arrival and departure movements to ensure the operation flow is smooth. The incident took place when I decided to allow a young Japanese couple to check-in early into the corner suite, 912. The reason was because I knew from their profile itinerary that they will depart early in the next morning. Therefore, I thought they will be grateful and extremely satisfied for the early check-in since they could now have more time to enjoy the facilities.

Furthermore, I also expected the couple to be more reserved and tolerable according to my understanding of their cultures. Little did I know, despite the language barrier, they complaint about the partially blocked view of the aquarium in the suite. With prior research done on the accommodation, they were in fact aware that the middle suites present better view. Therefore, halfway into my conduction of in-room orientation, they had already refused to unpack and insisted to wait inside the suite until a room move is available. At the moment, I did not try harder to change their perception of the suite by explaining the other attractive features to the couple to convince them to stay. Instead, I simply agreed to their opinions and request for room move.

The consequence was I had to have housekeeping to rush a suite for the room move. At the same time, with the couple occupying 912, I was not able to assign it to another early arrival. It messed up my initial plan with everything else got delayed and had to extend late check-out for a few rooms. Internally, it also added extra pressure to the workload of my housekeeping peers as they have to quickly tidy-up suite 912 again as an inspected room for next arrival.

Reflecting back on this incident, I realized the importance of understanding others through communication. It could help to remove any wrong perceptions and impressions that we might have of others. Therefore, what could I have done differently to ensure I understand the expectation of the Japanese guests or even to convince them to stay in suite 912?

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8 thoughts on “REFLECTION: INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION ISSUE

  1. Hi Eon,

    This highly reflective and detailed post that you have written has highlighted the importance of interpersonal communication in the front office context. With similar internship experience as you, I could relate to your situation and understand the level of stress that you must have went through!

    I too, agree with you that it is important to understand others through communication, and this is especially so for working in the hotel, as the departments have to work closely together to get job done. In my humble opinion, I felt that instead of assuming the Japanese has a reserved culture, maybe you could also check on their preference or if they have any request (Example: High floor, near elevators, Non-smoking room, Corner room, view of room) before performing the check-in formalities for the guests. This way, it would avoid any miscommunication or conflict after the guest checks in to his room and realise that he is not satisfied with a corner view.

    Also, since the young couple arrived relatively early and way before the check-in time, maybe you could consider to upsell the guests to a higher category of room, such as the villa. Upselling guests to a higher category of room is one of the most commonly practice strategy in hotels especially when guests arrives early. Since they are a young couple, they are most likely here for honeymoon or for a relaxing trip. Hence, you could bring the guests for a show room to a higher category of room. When the guests have a chance to enter the suite and experience for themselves the facilities and amenities the suite has to offer, they would be more inclined to the upsell. This would not only result in guest satisfaction but also increased revenue for the hotel.

    Overall, your reflection indicated a great thought process given a concise yet comprehensive post. Great job Eon!

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Cheers,
    Shufang

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  2. What an interesting post, Eon! It includes a very detailed description of your job scope and and the problem situation, and you present a careful discussion of your assumptions. You also have included the requested question to allow your reader to respond. (And Shu Fang has done s beautifully.)

    I really feel like I learn something in this post.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Dear Eon,

    Thank you for a well-chronicled reflection post on the interpersonal communication issue that you have encountered during your work stint. Although I have never have significant experience with regards to the duties of a front office guest agent i could totally empathised with what you have well through emotionally as I have faced similar experiences as a personal butler for high profile guest group.

    The expectations of VIP guest are often “demanding” or “extreme” in our eyes because we never knew the degree of premium, quality service they have received in the past. Their mindset of quality service can be framed by past experiences from other hotel stay.

    I believe many guest will be very appreciative of you in taking extra effort to be sensitive in their culture. Additionally, I believe you have done the necessary work in going through the profile itinerary from the PMS system. Perhaps to tackle the issue of them insisting to wait inside the suite, you can offer club lounge and some free F&B while waiting. This will actually show that they know you are trying your best to provide a service recovery and at the same time reducing the perception of waiting time.

    In addition, may I offer my humble opinion on not just your interpersonal communication with the Japanese guest but also towards your colleagues. I think what could be improve is in the way you deliver “last minute request” to your colleagues in the housekeeping. Rather than appearing to be demanding in your request, show empathy that you this situation is not what you have expected, something that we wished we wouldn’t have to handle. By doing so, when housekeeper understood the predicament that you were going through, he/she might end up encouraging you or complimenting your thoughtfulness. And guess what, they might be the most heartening words you need in those stressful moments.

    Overall, i enjoyed reading your post! Looking forward for your future post!

    Blessings,
    Joshua

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    • Hi Joshua,

      Thank you for your constructive feedback! I really like the idea of approaching colleagues differently for their help in tackling the last minute issue. I too, believe that they will show empathy with my situation if things have been tactfully communicated. Appreciate your thoughts!

      Cheers,
      Eon

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  4. Looking back at this situation, after gaining several constructive feedback from my peers, In fact, I realized I could have handled it properly in a professional manner. The common advice form peers is the need to be more firm and confident in dealing with guests. The words I have uttered should in fact contain some form of authorities and shall also be respected by other parties including guest. For instance, when I informed guests that they are not allowed to wait in the room despite not messing the room; there should be a power that enables them to follow instruction instead of raging and complaining.

    In the situation, I had neglected my own concerns to satisfy concerns of the Japanese couple in not getting a centralized suite which deemed to have better aquarium view. However, after reflection and critical analysis; I realized I should not be accommodating to their request of changing room which caused two vacant rooms being occupied for no reasons. If similar incident was to happen again in the future, I will try my best in selling the uniqueness of corner rooms to guests instead of agreeing to demanding requests from guests.

    Under the Thomas-Killmann conflict mode instrument, the issue could be solved by compromising method that looks for mutually acceptable solutions. For example, Shufang’s recommendation to offer room up-sell and Josh’s idea of offering lounge area with drinks to have guests settled down and not affecting the operations.

    I am glad that this incident had occurred. It showed me areas in which I need to apply critical thinking as well as communication skills that I need to develop. Take-away from this post will definitely be placed into good use one day in the future. :O)

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