More time to serve guests

Ms Nurul Syuhaidah Senin was promoted from guest service officer to front office assistant manager in February and got a pay rise, after her job was redesigned. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES
Ms Nurul Syuhaidah Senin was promoted from guest service officer to front office assistant manager in February and got a pay rise, after her job was redesigned. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

Swissotel The Stamford's front office assistant manager Nurul Syuhaidah Senin used to feel stressed seeing long lines of guests queueing in front of her at the hotel check-in counter.

Then a guest service officer, she would spend time on administrative tasks like registering guests' passports and giving them room keys.

But since September last year, that part of her job has been replaced by automated check-in screens, where guests can do everything from registering and paying to scanning baggage tags so their bags are taken to their rooms.

"Now I can focus on talking to the guests, which is what hospitality is about - finding out their preferences and needs so that we can figure out how to go the extra mile and delight them," said the 25-year-old.

Staff no longer have to man a check-in counter, unless guests have issues with the automated kiosk, so only four guest service staff are needed at the lobby, down from eight at the counter and two at the lobby.

Ms Nurul, who joined the hotel in 2017, also helps guests with additional tasks such as dining reservations and other concierge enquiries. Because of this, she was promoted to her current role in February this year, which came with a pay raise.

"I initially had my doubts about whether the change was really going to be beneficial and cut our workload. But it's much better," she said.

"Guests are also very impressed by it after they see for themselves how it makes check-in faster and more fuss-free. If they're very tired they don't want to spend so much time at the check-in counter," she added.

More than 120 employees at Swissotel and Fairmont Singapore have had their jobs redesigned, said general manager Marcus Hanna.

They include housekeeping staff, who have a less strenuous job as they get help from part-timers who strip the linens, and purchasing staff, who now use digitised forms and processes.

"In Singapore, manpower can be very difficult to find. In our industry we don't have a lot of people knocking on our doors, so we need to find new ways of doing things," Mr Hanna said.

Although it took some effort to explain to staff why the hotel wanted to redesign jobs and how they would benefit, they quickly came on board, he added.

"The hotel benefits because we have more engaged colleagues. Their work-life balance is great. And if our colleagues are happy and engaged and enjoying their role, then our guests are going to be happy," he said.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'More time to serve guests'. Print Edition | Subscribe