Matt Shiells-Jones, front of house manager at De Vere hotels, is the author of new training book, How To Be A Hotel Receptionist. He spoke to Janie Manzoori-Stamford
What prompted you to write the book?
It started as a training manual for my own reception team and grew from there. I realised that there was very little material for receptionists that actually explained events such as overbooking and bedroom allocations. Many of the texts I found are very process orientated. My book is person orientated and explains why things are done and how that impacts on a guest's experience. It only took me about eight weeks to write.
What do you think of front-of-house standards in the UK?
They vary massively. The UK is very good at staying calm in a crisis and we pride ourselves on high standards. The problem is that with increased international trade to the UK, and spectacularly high standards in places such as Dubai, coupled with economic pressure to survive, the renowned British standard of service is being eroded and surpassed by other hotels. I want to put the Great back into Great British Hospitality!
How has the book been received?
I have only had positive feedback so far, which is extremely gratifying. I have had offers of international translation and have seen the book bought by hotels of all sizes across the world, from small 10-bedroom guest houses to five-star hotels, to suite-only properties and 500-bedroom resorts. If only one guest's experience has been improved by the book, I have achieved my goal. My own team were surprised by it and my general manager even has a personally signed first edition!
Has De Vere made any plans to roll it out across the business?
I am currently working with our personnel and development team to discuss such an option. In the meantime, I have become a writer for De Vere's Great British Hospitality blog on its Facebook page, as well as a representative on the De Vere regional hospitality team to help drive the business forward and maintain standards.
Any plans for a second book?
There are plans for a few. I am working on expanding the complaint handling section to a full volume of its own, along with creating a version of the original book for managers. I am also working on a guide to hotel standards for the industry, so it is a very busy time for me.