Luis Santos has seen both sides of working as a front desk clerk - at a hotel chain and a timeshare - and he's here to tell you the job description is not the same.
"Everything is different, from your training to the customer service experience to the way your day unfolds," says Santos, who has worked at both the Comfort Suites and Island One Resorts, where he is currently a front desk manager.
To become a front desk clerk at the timeshare resort, Santos took 30 days of in-house training when he was hired, then was put on a 90-day probation before assuming his new position. Island One offers training at its corporate office, seminars and upgrade courses at least once a month.
"When training to work the front desk at a hotel, it was straight to the point," Santos says. "The learning was very specific, you learn very quickly, and there's not much to learn the system. Check in, check out, calendar dates." He has never taken formal, outside courses, though he's now studying real estate law to further his career in the timeshare industry.
Unlike Santos, front desk manager Cindy Michaud, who has worked at the Great George Hotel for four years, studied for a tourism and travel management diploma, and has achieved four certifications in such areas as reservations, guest services, and front desk management. "The schooling I had was geared to tourism," she says. "When I got into it (working as a hotel clerk), I thought it was just a job, but now I see it shaping up to be more of a career."
While front desk clerks at both hotels and timeshare resorts are on the front lines of customer service, there are differences in their experiences. Both hotel and timeshare clerks can be the first impression a guest forms when walking through the doors. Says Michaud, "You have to really like people; being a front desk clerk is definitely not for someone who wants to be in a back office." Being a people person is paramount for both types of operations, and many of the tasks front desk clerks perform for guests are the same, but there are significant differences:
Strong administrative skills are key for job seekers interested in working as a hotel front desk clerk. The position involves great organizational skills, from arranging room assignments, using a computer and handling cash to dealing with a variety of customer service expectations.
Here's what Cindy Michaud's day looks like:
"You're looking for any potential problems and taking care of these things ahead of time, if possible," she says.
A day in the life of a timeshare resort's front desk clerk is much less predictable.
Luis Santos's day begins and often ends at the same time as Michaud's, but the similarity ends there.
Front desk clerks at a timeshare:
The answer to this question depends on what type of customer service relationship appeals to you - the challenge of dealing with new guests everyday or the more personal experience of developing a long-term customer rapport. Each is rewarding in its own way.