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PEOPLE AT WORK: Hotel front desk staff on front lines of concierge service

August 3, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Mirror Lake Inn Front Desk Supervisor Lauren Ruppert believes the two top reasons why people return to a hotel like hers is for cleanliness and friendliness

And that's why, she estimates, the small burgundy rug at the foot of the resort's front desk is vacuumed 45 times a day. Resting atop the front desk a few feet above the rug, at most any time of day, you will find a tray of the Mirror Lake Inn's homemade cookies with their specific recipe.

So each time a guest drops a crumb, the rug is attended to.

Article Photos

From left are Mirror Lake Inn front desk attendants Meghan LaHart, Kristen Lagerstedt and Heather Hayhurst and Front Desk Supervisor Lauren Ruppert.
(News photo — Antonio Olivero)

"That rug does get more attention," Ruppert said.

It's this attention to detail that is at the core of the service Ruppert, her staff of 14 front desk attendants and the rest of the hotel's concierge and overall staff provide guests.

No request is too outrageous to consider. No phone or in-person conversation must have a time limit. And no chocolate chip cookie crumb is left not retrieved.

"As long as it is ethical, we really try not to say no to a guest," Ruppert said.

In order to provide this, the kind of accommodation services that enables the Mirror Lake Inn to, say, purchase a piece of furniture for a specific guest's request or trade out decorative pillows in a guest's room from another to make them happy, Ruppert and the rest of the concierge staff must do two things: keep their inventory and knowledge of the hotel as organized and as efficient as possible and have experience with elements of a guest's stay - inside and outside of the hotel - that will enable them to make recommendations.

And that comes down to lists and detailed documents, whether it be what exactly is in each of the resort's 131 guest rooms, or which restaurants in town the hotel is OK with recommending to their visitors.

"We do have a list," Ruppert said of the recommended restaurants.

Ruppert estimated there are about 15 restaurants currently on the Inn's list.

"We've had it for a while," Ruppert said, "gone back and forth with certain restaurants, too. We want to have a lot of options. It's not like we want it to be limited."

Ruppert mentions how recently the new Salt of the Earth Bistro on Cascade Road invited her and each of her front desk attendants to come by and try an entree. In the world of Lake Placid restaurants and hospitality, this was the chance for Ruppert and her concierge team to test a new establishment to ensure it wouldn't end up being a bad experience for their guests. The bistro passed the test.

As the supervisor of the front desk, Ruppert, a former front desk attendant herself, generally works 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week, though there is always someone at the desk. This includes a "night auditor" from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. each night.

As the Inn takes all of its reservations in house - there's no outside call center like other hotels - each phone call is answered by a person here. These reservations are taken in the back, behind a door at the rear of the front desk area.

Reservation requests run the spectrum from quick and ordinary to seemingly endless and overly detailed.

There are guests for more than a dozen rooms who have stayed in the same room three to four times a year. Then there are guests who leave no stone unturned in terms of amenities.

"What the room looks like," Ruppert said. "Which way the bed is facing in the room, to look at the lake. What the decor is. What type of wood is on the furniture? Is there a desk or chair in the room? Does the chair have arms on it? Some people have very, very specific requests. And we listen."

Many of the Inn's rooms are "classic," similar in terms of their layouts, but Ruppert said all of its suites are one-of-a-kind. As a result, as the concierge team needs to be able to answer questions by knowing exactly what a room looks like, it's not uncommon for someone to run up to a room to double-check before changing the direction of a bed or swapping out a mattress.

This is all in the name of making the guest's stay as ideal and painless as possible.

"People will call and say, 'I need a firm or hard mattress,'" Ruppert said, "and the housekeeping department literally knows which mattress is in every single room. We will go out of our way."



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