Critical Reflection

The Career Professional Development II module had indeed been an enriching and fulfilling journey for me over the last 12 weeks. I have gained foundational yet fundamental knowledge and developed skills that will prepare me for a life time of learning in school and at work. The importance of interpersonal communications was addressed where it is applicable in my daily life. I would like to thank Brad for being such a great deliverer in your weekly presentation.

Across the 12 weeks of learning, foundation of various communication tools was delivered from theoretical aspect with the aid from instructional units and various communication video. On top of that, what really literally got me off my seats during each lesson was that practical aspect of it. I do not just learn about what others have went through from the example of the life of many through numerous videos and journal articles but I get to participate in activities that I actively discover new insights about myself and also my peers around me. Examples of communication tools that was highly impactful to me was the concept of 7Cs, Johari Windown as well as Thomas-Kilmann conflict model.

Being equipped with the fundamental knowledge and skills had propelled me and my group to work on a project revolving around an issue that is happening in the hospitality industry. Mainly focus on the hotel industry as my team members and I majored in, we looked into the type of interpersonal communication issue that will take place in the daily life of a guest service agent. The critical issues were brought up through primary and secondary research study whereby it led us to the solidification of our training video. The weeks of preparation for the storyboard and filming on set was a challenging yet fruitful task as my team members and I get to really put what we learnt about interpersonal communication skills into action.

In summary, I would gladly and proudly say that I have not just conquered another module during my term of study but I have gained immensely from the practical importance of communication. This would be one of the defining module that would aid me to shape my identity as a person and hold me to my professional standards when I enter into the workforce. Once again, thank you Brad for bringing us onto this journey of lifelong learning. Your passion for professional communication had inspired me greatly!

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Project Synopsis: Final Draft

Workplace Context

The workplace context chosen for study is in a hotel setting, where interpersonal communications occur daily, between guests and staff. The study aims to investigate how front desk staff tackle situations which they will experience frequently such as rejecting guest’s request. Guests’ requests can range from reasonable to straight up outrageous. A front desk staff member must know how to handle such a situation when it occurs. When it is not possible to accede to a request, a front desk staff must be able to tactfully decline the guest without agitating them further. The goal of a hospitality service staff is to ensure maximum guest satisfaction (Belcher, 2013) and the interaction between employees and guests at the front desk forms guest’s first impression of one’s hotel standards of service (Högnäs, 2015).

As the study is tailored towards SIT students of the hospitality industry, selecting a hotel as a workplace context is highly relevant to their course of study. It can also serve as a reminder for all SIT hospitality students heading for the Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) in May 2017. It is with the intention of preparing and educating students that when such situations arises, they are fully equipped to handle it.

Thematic Focus

The project’s thematic focus is on the front desk of a hotel. It is the place with the highest level of interaction with guests, and where the most things can and will go wrong (Hartline, 1996). It is said that the front desk is where the first impression of a hotel is formed, and first impressions mean everything in the hospitality industry. Therefore, it is paramount to ensure that front desk staff are widely acquainted with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle any situations.

The project mainly focuses on the appropriate tone, verbal, non-verbal language and body language used in two areas, rejecting guests for early check in and rejecting inappropriate guest requests. Subsequently, study highlights the service etiquette required when front desk staff encounter such situations during their course of work. Lastly, the study re-emphasizes the need to understand guests, how to strategically reject them politely with right service decorum and to encourage discussion between trainees on how they would handle this situation.

Interpersonal Communication Problem

The interpersonal communication problem being explored is that front desk staff may not be declining guests in the best possible manner. Although, the front desk staff members are expected to be able to handle such situations, there is a distinct lack of training provided to the staff in the aspect of declining guests request. Hence, in the heat of the moment, staff members may unwittingly offend the guest through their words and body language, further enraging an angry guest who just had his or her request rejected. It is a situation which all hotels want to avoid as it often results in poor feedback and scathing reviews on travel websites (McEvilly, 2015).

This research study investigates fundamental communication skills and knowledge required to deal with common issues that one may face during IWSP and subsequently along career progression. In addition, the study explores the essential skills and knowledge vital to career success in hospitality industry.

Objective of Study

The aim of this study is to identify the verbal and non-verbal language in rejecting guests’ requests. It seeks to explore on how front desk staffs should positively carry themselves as service ambassadors for the hotel. In addition, this study highlights aspects of communication that front desk staff may not be actively conscious about, such as their facial expression, tone of voice and body posture that are of paramount importance during service encounters that guest indefinitely evaluate ones’ service quality.

Research Methodology

In order to fully capture the importance of interpersonal communication between hotel front desk staff and guest, primary research would be derived from personal experience and conversations with three hospitality students who have had working experience at front office. It seeks to highlight feedback on students’ time spent at the front desk, the emotions they felt and how they handled such situations when it occurred to them. In addition, related online articles, academic papers and various educational sources with unique case studies will be referenced as our secondary research, highlighting the importance of good interpersonal communication through verbal and non-verbal gestures.

Proposed Solutions

On a daily basis, whenever front line staff encountered circumstances where they are inevitably required to reject guests’ request, it has to be handled tactfully and professionally. The appropriate body language, tone of delivery and essential verbiage will be detailed. Our potential solutions that we intend to include into our project will include suggested words and phrases that a front desk staff member could use to reject guests. Discussion about the study between trainees could be held to explore how they think they should respond to the situation at hand.

Firstly, the staff member should let the guest know that they are genuinely listening by using words such as ‘I understand’. It is not ideal to reject the guest outright.

Secondly, staff members should be gentle and provide solutions. Inform the guest of the company policies and always offer a solution or next step, as this will show what you’re doing correct the situation. A diplomatic way to turn away a customer is by suggesting alternative providers who may offer the exact product or service they are looking for. This approach is generally well received because you are still going out of your way to help them. Provide them with not only alternative solutions to their problem, but solutions that go above and beyond to demonstrate the value placed on the relationship. If you have to say no, be clear, transparent and upfront about it so expectations are not misconstrued.

Thirdly, staff should say no with kindness and gratitude and do so while maintaining their own values as well as the hotel’s. Let the guests understand where the staff are coming from. If they understand where your company is and where you are, they’ll understand why the staff not able to comply with their requests without losing their respect. Maintaining their respect means next time they need help, they might come back with more agreeable terms.

Benefits to Workplace

The application of the project would result in staff being well-trained to handle difficult guests and their requests. This project allows the management to assess the daily interactions that front line employees goes through and showcasing beneficial tactics in different unique situations. Furthermore, with the essential knowledge and tactical skills garnered, it will instill confidence to employees moving forward to take ownership in handling difficult guests. Consequently, hotels can forge closer relationships to customers and gain a competitive advantage by reducing guest dissatisfaction (Day, 1998).

This project has the potential to reduce guest complaints and dissatisfaction if carried out well. It can further venture into a requisite training programme for new employees showcasing updated real life case studies that has occurred in the hotel and how it was professionally rectified. Last but not least, active discussion between trainees can act as a team bonding activity and help build cohesion between the front desk staff.

Conclusion

The hotel is a dynamic environment and the front desk is the department where guest interactions can be polarising. Ultimately, this study aims to advise hospitality students on how to reduce the negative reactions that they may experience at the front desk. The proposed solutions will reduce dissatisfaction for both internal and external customers. The project aims to prepare students in the workplace by creating awareness and instilling confidence in them to step up and handle difficult guest and their requests in a professional yet graceful manner.

References

Belcher, L. M. (2013). Customer Satisfaction in the Hospitality Industry. Small Business Chron. Retrieved 2017, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/customer-satisfaction-hospitality-industry-15722.html

Day, J. D. (1998). Relationship Marketing: Its Key Role in Entrepreneurship. Long Range Planning .

Hartline, M. D., & Jones, K. C. (1996). Employee performance cues in a hotel service environment: Influence on perceived service quality, value, and word-of-mouth intentions. Journal of Business Research35(3), 207-215.

Högnäs, S. (2015). The Importance of the First Impression in Hotel Customer Service.University of Applied Science .

McEvilly, B. (2015, July 8). How Online Review Sites Are Affecting Your Hotel. Retrieved 2017, from hospitalitynet: http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4070901.html

Hartline, M. D., & Jones, K. C. (1996). Employee performance cues in a hotel service environment: Influence on perceived service quality, value, and word-of-mouth intentions. Journal of Business Research35(3), 207-215.

Project Synopsis Draft

Workplace Context
The workplace context chosen for study is in a hotel setting, where interpersonal communications occurs daily, between guest and staff. Our group’s project will aim to train front desk staff on how to tackle a situation which they will experience frequently – rejecting a guests’ request. Guests’ requests can range from reasonable to straight up outrageous. A front desk staff member must know how to handle such a situation when it occurs. When it is not possible to accede to a request, a front desk staff must be able to tactfully decline the guest without agitating them further. The goal of an hospitality service staff is to ensure maximum guest satisfaction and the interaction phase between employees and guests are critical elements that forms guest perceptions of one’s hotel standards of service.

Being students of the hospitality industry, choosing the hotel as a workplace context is more relatable. This can also serve as a reminder for all students who are going out for their ISWP internship programme the upcoming May. It is with the intention of preparing and educating students that when such situations arises, they are fully equipped to handle it.

Thematic Focus

Our project’s thematic focus is on the front desk of a hotel. It is the place with the highest level of interaction with guests – and where the most things can and will go wrong. It is said that the front desk is where the first impression of a hotel is formed, and first impressions mean everything in the hospitality industry. Therefore, it is paramount to ensure that front desk staff are widely acquainted with the necessary knowledges and skills to handle any situations.

The training video will showcase three scenarios that happen in a hotel’s front office workplace commonly. Video showing hypothetical situations and possible ways to handle them, discuss vocabulary and phrases that can be used to politely say ‘no’, what to do when the guest does not take ‘no’ for an answer.

The three scenarios are mainly focusing on (1) rejecting guest for early check in; (2) rejecting guest for the request of late check out through phone  (3) rejecting inappropriate guest requests. The video will showcase the “Dos and Don’ts” when staff met with such situations. Subsequently, the video will end off with a summary, re-emphasizing the need to understand guest, how to strategically reject them kindly with key verbiages and set good examples

Interpersonal Communication Problem

The interpersonal communication problem being explored is that front desk staff may not be declining guests in the best possible manner. In the heat of the moment, they may unwittingly offend the guest through words and body language, further enraging an angry guest who just had his or her request rejected. It is a situation which all hotels want to avoid as it often results in poor feedback and scathing reviews on travel websites.

Many of us are in this degree programme because we would like to have careers in the hospitality industry. This project aims to equip us with some of the basic communication skills we need to solve common issues that we may face during our internships or future work. Not everyone has had the opportunity to experience life at the front desk, so this project would give a sneak peek into the situations that one would face should they ever be assigned there.

Objective of Study

The aim of this study is to identify the verbal and nonverbal do’s and don’ts in rejecting  guests’ requests. It aims to educate the viewers on how front desk staffs should carry themselves. The study would highlight aspects of communication that front desk staff may not be actively conscious about, such as their facial expression, tone of voice and body posture.

Research Methodology 

Our primary research would be derived from personal experience and conversations with our peers who have had experience at the front desk. We want to garner feedbacks on their time spent at the front desk, the emotions they felt and how they handled such situations when it occurred to them. In addition, related online articles, academic papers and various educational sources with unique case studies will be referenced as our secondary research to highlight the importance of good interpersonal communication.

Proposed Solutions 

A video simulating a guest interaction would be produced. The video would be set in a front desk setting of a hotel, and the mock scenarios will match the real life cases as closely as possible. Our potential solutions that we intend to include into our project will include suggested words and phrases that a front desk staff member could use to reject guests. Discussion on the video could be held afterwards to see how front desk trainees think they should respond to the situation at hand.

Benefits to Workplace

The application of the project would result in staff being well-trained to handle difficult guests and their requests. This project allows the management to assess the daily interactions that front line employees goes through and showcasing beneficial tactics in different unique situations. Furthermore, with the essential knowledge and tactical skills garnered, it will instills confidence to employees moving forward to take ownership in handling difficult guests. Subsequently,

This project has the potential to reduce guest complaints and dissatisfaction if carried out well. It can further venture into a requisite training programme for new employees showcasing updated real life case studies that has occurred in the hotel and how it was professionally rectified. Last but not least, active discussion between trainees can act as a team bonding activity and help build cohesion between the front desk staff.

Conclusion

The hotel is a dynamic environment and the front desk is the department where guest interactions can be polarising. The team is eager to share our advice on how to reduce the negative reactions that front desk staff may experience and that our proposed solution will reduce dissatisfaction for both internal and external customers. The training video aims to prepare students in the workplace by creating awareness and instilling confidence in them to step up and handle difficult guest and their requests in a professional yet graceful manner.

Reflection on Interpersonal Communication

A major interpersonal communication breakdown took place during the last month of my Oversea Internship Programme (OSIP) at Four Season Resort, Seychelles during my polytechnic days. I was assigned by my manager as a Food & Beverage Butler to be station in one of the 28 Residence Villas which was owned by the Deputy Prime Minister of UAE where he was considered the most important guest (VVIP) in the entire resort.  The job scope that was communicated before my deployment includes setting and clearing of tables, and manning the buffet counter for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. I was expected to work from 0800hrs to 2200hrs.

However, on the first day of my work, the personal butler of the VVIP told me that I am in fact hired as an assistant to them where my job responsible does not just includes setting and clearing or table/buffet counters. I would actually have to do whatever things I am told to do everyday. In short, instead of performing the role of an F&B butler, I am required perform duties liken to a personal butler. Hence, I ended up feeling very worn-out with work because on top of what I was briefed to do before deployment, I got involved in duties such as washing dishes, cutting fruits and vegetables, making fruits juices and doing equipment set up and tear down for their leisure activities. Frustration and resentment kicked in when I felt that I was being exploited as an intern by my manager.

When both my F&B director and manager visited me on the first night, they were shock to hear what I have been doing because what they have briefed me and what I have been doing was totally different. After my director left, my manager started reprimanding me for my bad body language and for not informing him of my situation over here. He added that it was my responsibility to cope with the expectations demanded by both resort and guest. Before we ended our brief chat, he highlighted that the resort is running at 100% full occupancy, that I have to learnt to work self-reliantly because manpower will be an issue throughout.

On the last day after VVIP guest left the resort, I told my manager that I was very upset with the way things had turned out as I have been working for more than 12 hours for nearly full three weeks without an off day. To sum it up, my manager apologized to me about the poor planning by the management in terms of allocating staff and broken communication to the personal butler of VVIP which resulted in this bad experience.

Looking back, although this interpersonal communication incident had tainted my work experience during the last month of my OSIP, I thought that perhaps if I have communicated and expressed clearly on my situation and how I felt during those dire moments, I would have gotten the support that I desired. Indeed, this incident was instrumental to my learning journey as I was taught on the importance of both verbal and non-verbal communication and how small misunderstanding and not clarifying doubts could affect one job performance and satisfaction.

How should I have managed work expectation? Should I have spoken up and ask for support? What could I have done differently to avoid such situation in the future?

 

Personal Branding

Today, I would like to share with my viewers on the importance of personal branding and how effective communication play a critical role to the success of ones’ individual and professional life. Personally, personal branding essentially speaks about who I am, what I want to be known for and what do people look to me for.

I am a firm believing of upholding and reflecting my character in positive light. I believe that in life, you are governed by a set of core values. This core values are foundational traits that reflects who you are as a person and subsequently how you go about displaying it through your daily assignments and interactions with people. Compassion and respect are two of the main core values that I hold dear to my heart. The day when I moved on in life, apart from being known as someone who had lived my life to the fullest, I would want an inscription on my tomb that reflect my life journey that goes the line of “A man that who loves and respect unconditionally.” By loving and respecting unconditionally, it is not just towards people that are easy to commune, but also difficult people that I will come across with from all walks of life.

In a professional setting, I believe that encounters with superiors and peers will not always be a smooth sailing experience, but how you positioned yourself firmly and reflects your true character in the midst of challenging moments will essentially stick in the minds of the people you have met. In addition, I believed that having a strong understanding of communication climates would greatly support my interaction with guests and colleagues. I want to be known as someone who articulates supportive behaviours more often than portraying defensive behaviours. For example, I want to be known as an empathetic manager that is concerned and respectful of associates as I believe that when the needs of my associates are well taken care of, they will take good care of my customers.

In summary, I would want to portray an image of being compassionate and respectful to people around me which I believe that it will still take a life long learning journey to attain it.

Self Introduction

To: Brad Blackstone

From: Joshua Tan Jun Kai

Date: 19 January 2017

Subject: Self-Introduction

Dear Brad,

My name is Joshua and I am currently a second-year student at Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) pursuing a degree in hospitality business, majoring in hotel integrated and resort management. I am writing this email to share with you on my educational background, professional experience, as well as my strengths and weaknesses in communication.

Having graduated with a diploma in leisure and resort management from Temasek Polytechnic, I could only count my blessings for the numerous opportunities that was given to me as an aspiring service representative in the hospitality scene. Significantly, I underwent a three-month overseas internship programme to Four Seasons Resort, Seychelles where I was privileged to be given the opportunity to hone my interpersonal skills, communication skills, and to embrace cultural diversity in its purest form.

Prior to my admission to SIT, I completed a nine-month contractual job at a corporate events firm, Reed Exhibitions Singapore. As an operations coordinator, I had successfully supported the head of operations on company’s major trade shows portfolio such as  Maison & Objet Asia, Tax Free World Association Asia Pacific and Build Eco Xpo Asia, where I have demonstrated the ability to partner with both internal and external stakeholders across different ranks regions.

Nonetheless, having been put to test the challenge of acclimatizing in a foreign environment during my polytechnic internship period as well as finding myself being exposed to the culture of corporate world, there are still areas of improvement to be made in my communication skills. I certainly believe that in order for me to be an effective communicator, there is a need for me to cultivate a lifestyle of being a good listener. Particularly in the hospitality industry, active listening is the key to accurately understand and meet the needs of a guest.

I hope that this brief introduction will provide you with a better understanding of me as person and I look forward to learning and exchanging of knowledge with you in the coming weeks ahead.

Thank you.

Blessings,

Joshua Tan

(edited: 09/02/17)

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