Deck the halls

For those of us in hospitality, the party season in particular is one of the most challenging and busy periods of the year. Huge increases in the number of events, guests and bookings mean that many providers will be looking for additional help, particularly for those busy reception areas. Added to this is the extra amount of energy put into festive events and, of course, any decorating.

It goes without saying therefore, that the need for a Christmas workforce that fits seamlessly into your organisation and is able to enhance the services you provide in this crucial time, is essential. Your colleagues should be representing the company in a positive light all year round, but the team you have around the Christmas period could include extra hands. No one wants a co-worker who is stepping into the unknown for the first time and therefore able to add no value to the role they are asked to do, albeit temporarily. Here, Anthony Bennett, founder of bespoke hospitality provider Bennett Hay, provides invaluable tips on how to utilise added support during the festive period, by achieving an elite ‘relief’ team, who are fully integrated into the business and aligned with your company values.

  1. Give the gift of excellent staff training and clear briefing

Everyone within your company needs to reflect company standards and embody values. The relief team – who can be from other departments, or work on a part time basis – have a shorter amount of time to get this right. To help these particular recruits to achieve this, employers realistically need to invest their time in training their staff and helping them feel at home with their new, or temporary, team members. Allowing enough time to train will translate into excellent service, enthusiasm and commitment. In short, without providing adequate training and clear briefing, companies are setting themselves up to fall short of the excellent (and consistent) service they should be providing all year round – including this all important festive period.

  1. Leave room for growth

Relief team members need to feel that they are being challenged and are progressing – whether it’s in the catering, reception, porterage or office services department. By allowing room for your relief, as well as your regular staff to develop and grow, you will get the best out of them. Creating team incentives, inviting all members to any colleague drinks or dinners and setting personal goals can make everyone feel valued. And, you never know, if your relief receptionist excels in that operation, you may just find you’d like to extend their stay on a permanent basis when opportunity arises.

  1. Choose wisely

It sounds simple but you need to suss out the correct person who will be able to adapt to the client they’ll be supporting over the Christmas period. Time is precious and therefore relief staff should be the most adaptable, self-motivated and independent members of the company, as they’ll need to juggle different tasks and quickly feel at home doing something outside their usual remit.

Festivities at this time of year are great, but they do require extra work and a coordinated effort. Many of the demands and stresses around this time of year tend to be placed with the reception team. Decorating the workplace, whether on a grand corporate scale, or smaller tinsel-around-the-desk affair, is usually allocated to the reception staff. Additionally, the heightened number of guests and increase in postal deliveries places further demand on the wider reception and hospitality team.

Fundamentally, at this time of year, employers are looking for someone who can enhance their services and work well with their permanent teams. By supporting your colleagues in their role and letting them get fully involved in your team you can hope to see excellent organisation, enthusiasm and service which will be evident in the faces of your guests and visitors who come in expecting service with an extra sparkle






Anthony has over 20 years experience within both the hospitality and facilities service industries, his roles have included sales, operations and marketing at Director level. He co founded bespoke hospitality provider Bennett Hay in 2010, the company operates in London workplace buildings providing guest services, food and wellbeing and workplace support to their clients.