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In their study - From Clerk and Cashier to Guest Service Agent - by Nancy J. Allin, Director of Quality Assurance and Training and Kelly Halpine, Assistant Director of Quality Assurance and Training, The Waldorf-Astoria, New York, the authors state at the outset: “The Waldorf-Astoria has taken the positions of registration clerk and cashier and combined them to provide excellent guest service and efficient systems operation. The authors tell how and why the combination works.

That thesis statement defines the article, and puts it squarely in the crosshairs of the service category. Allin and Halpine use their positions at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to frame their observations

“The allocation of staff hours has been a challenge to many front office managers who try their hardest to schedule for the norm but provide excellent, efficient service throughout the peaks,” Allin and Halpine allude. “…the decision [to combine the positions of registration clerk and cashier] was driven by a desire to improve guest service where its impact is most obvious, at the front desk. Cross-trained employees speed the check-in and check-out process by performing both functions, as the traffic at the desk dictates,” the authors say.

Making such a move has resulted in positive benefits for both the guests and the hotel. “Benefits to the hotel, in addition to those brought to bear by increased guest satisfaction, include greater flexibility in weekly scheduling and in granting vacations while maintaining adequate staffing at the desk,” say Allin and Halpine . “Another expected outcome, net payroll savings, should also be realized as a consequence of the ability to schedule more efficiently.”

The authors point to communication as the key to designing a successful combination such as this, with the least amount of service disruption. They bullet-point what that communication should entail. Issues of seniority, wage and salary rates, organizational charting, filing, scheduling, possible probationary periods, position titles, and physical layouts are all discussed.

“It is critical that each of the management issues be addressed and resolved before any training is begun,” Allin and Halpine suggest. “Unresolved issues project confusion and lack of conviction to line employees and the result is frustration and a lack of commitment to the combination process,” they push the thought

Allin and Halpine insist: “Once begun, training must be ongoing and consistent.” In the practical sense, the authors provide that authorizing overtime is helpful in accomplishing training.

“Training must address the fact that employees will be faced with guest situations which are new to them, for example: an employee previously functioning as a cashier will be faced with walking guests. Specific exercises should be included to address these needs,” say the authors.