Georg Strauch, Director of the Corporate Reception Department: “The reception is the heart of a hotel”

date_range 8 June, 2023 question_answer Leave your thoughts

The first thing we encounter when we start our holiday in a hotel is the reception area. The staff here are in charge of welcoming us and making the first impression on us. This marks the start of our holiday. But, are we aware of everything that lies behind the hotel reception? A great team of people, but also a tremendous amount of work carried out at RIU‘s headquarters by the Corporate Reception Department. Their job is to study the needs in the reception areas of all 100 RIU hotels, make the relevant changes and ensure that these are implemented.

Today we explain how this is managed as well as everything that lies behind the smile that greets you at the start of your holiday.

“My team is the backbone and the know-how of all the work we do”

In order to understand the work that is carried out in this area of the company, we talked to Georg Strauch, Director of the Corporate Reception Department. He started at RIU in 1997 with the aim of establishing the department he now heads. He currently has a staff of 12 that he feels “lucky to have. We are the musketeers, one for all and all for one. They are great ideologists, without them we would not have achieved anything like what we have today.”

Georg Strauch, Director of the Corporate Reception Department

Georg Strauch, Director of the Corporate Reception Department.


“From the head office in Palma, we are responsible for defining the hotel reception standards, the procedures to follow, how to assist RIU guests, and how to check in. These are issues that are constantly evolving.”  They are the back office of a reception. Like all the departments, they have been adapting to the needs that have arisen as the chain has grown. There are more and more hotels, more countries and more staff.

From left to right: Biel Cladera, Víctor Castro and Toni Guasp, Functional Support; Ernesta Simkute, Jose Luis Moreno, Toni Molina and Delia Robaina, Reception Staff.

From left to right: Biel Cladera, Víctor Castro and Toni Guasp, Functional Support; Ernesta Simkute, Jose Luis Moreno, Toni Molina and Delia Robaina, Reception Staff.

They also do auditing work. They set guidelines and regulations for front desk staff. “It is important to remember that a lot of payments for stays are made here and there must be transparent management.” With the changes in hotel marketing, direct payments at the hotel have grown considerably. Many years ago, almost all our bookings came through travel agencies and were prepaid packages. Today up to 20% of RIU’s turnover comes through reception. This is also a sign of the increased responsibility that reception has taken on.

Another of their important roles is at hotel openings. They have to ensure that their area is well designed and that everything that will be needed is in place. For example, the space and structure of the reception area must be suitable so that the service can be provided correctly, in terms of function and workload. Staff training is also carried out during openings. “It is perhaps one of the most important and rewarding tasks, and it is not only limited to openings.” Training and the creation of new tools are ongoing tasks and these affect various departments within the hotel, from Reception to Housekeeping, Technical Service, Mini Bar and Management.

Our colleagues in charge of functional support are also located at head office. They are the ones who deal with any incidents in hotel management (PMS). All system-related user problems are reported to them; they either solve them or pass them on to the corresponding department.

In addition to the head office team, in America there other people responsible for ensuring that the hotels in their areas comply with everything defined by RIU head office. “They have detailed knowledge of the problems and changes experienced by the hotels on the other side of the Atlantic. They experience their hotels on a daily basis.” Together with Operations, they are in charge of coordinating the departments and are constantly training, monitoring and reviewing. “They are the compass that guides America’s front desks and the link to other central departments when implementing changes that may affect the management of a hotel in relation to the work in reception”.

Yamilka Doyley


Floira Silverio


 Eno Oleo


Lakis Charizanis


Knowing how each destination works allows the Corporate Reception Department to learn about the diversity of cultures and opportunities they encounter. “You learn from every country, and at RIU we are always looking to take advantage of this knowledge for other destinations.”

A little history

At the beginning, the hotels worked by hand and on paper. It was in 2003 when the first technological leap was made, with the internal tool RUMBO. This replaced a more basic version, adding a number of functions beyond the hotel’s own reservation and rack rate management.  However, it was not until 2010, after the opening of the first Riu Plaza hotel, the Riu Plaza Panama, “when we left behind the age of paper”.

“Technology plays a fundamental role in the management of a hotel”

In 2018, we switched to mobile management with the implementation of Hmobile. Through RUMBO, this connects all the hotel’s departments and makes day-to-day operations much easier. Until then, all the hotel’s needs were congested at reception, but now each department can access them.  In addition, in 2019, the RIU App was launched for guests, with our supplier STAY, from where they can access all the hotel’s information, make restaurant reservations, view activity schedules or request a towel without having to go through reception. In total, some 150,000 monthly requests from clients worldwide are handled through this app.

Another great step forward has been online check-in. Thanks to this, reception processes have been greatly streamlined and waiting times have been reduced. “Now technology serves us by facilitating daily tasks, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy so that hotel staff can dedicate themselves exclusively to the guests.”  Additionally, “Today’s guests want an immediate response, they have changed, it is no longer the same as in the past when they would send you a fax or a letter. Thanks to technology we can give them that quick response they are looking for.”

In terms of technology, work and evolution are constant, every year there are improvements and new developments. “It’s the small changes that make the difference. From setting up a payment gateway to automating amenity management or making restaurant reservations.”

“When a guest walks through the door of the hotel, their holiday has already begun”

The task of the people who set up the working systems is just as important as that of the people who implement them. Thanks to all the work carried out at Headquarters, the reception teams are able to carry out their daily duties. All guests pass through this area. Here they are welcomed, checked up on, and then bid farewell when their holiday is over. They have a great deal of responsibility because “The first point of contact is the lobby area and if this is full and the waiting time is long, the guests are not going to forgive you. They have already started their holidays and don’t want to wait.” On many occasions there is even a pre-stay relationship, when the guest lets them know what they need a few days before they arrive. Like the hotel’s other departments, reception staff aim to make the customer feel at home so they enjoy their stay with us.

RIU hotel receptions are open 24 hours a day. Depending on the shift, staff functions vary. If they are on the morning shift, they will probably have to do more check outs, and there are more check-ins in the afternoon/evening. During the day, they also attend to the various needs of guests who “are already at home”.

The number of people at a reception “depends a great deal on the size of the hotel. The smallest have about six staff members and the largest can have up to 40.” These teams are made up of receptionists, customer service staff, porters, reception managers and reception assistant-managers. In total, there are about 2,000 workers in the chain’s reception area.

Many directors and deputy directors come from the reception or bar and dining room teams”

It is very important that the reception staff have a vocation for service. “They are people who have service in their blood, it is vocational.” It is also very important that they speak different languages and “This is something that is not easy to achieve in all destinations.” “Perhaps the most difficult thing is volume management. There are days when 2,000 people come to the hotel and you have to manage their arrival while avoiding queues.” They are also in charge of managing many of the complaints that crop up on a day-to-day basis and finding solutions for these. “It is not always the easiest and most rewarding task. But somehow we have to find solutions for the clients.”

If you work in reception you do not have to stop there. If you demonstrate your vocation at RIU, you can become head of reception and even part of the hotel’s management team.

“The main difference between a Plaza and a holiday hotel is the average length of stay”

There are certain differences between working in reception in a city hotel and at a holiday destination hotel, as the type of guest is different. In the first type, people stay for less time, so there are more arrivals and departures, while in the second, there are fewer arrivals, but the client demands much more attention during their stay because they spend more time in the hotel. You have to understand that a Riu Plaza hotel guest, whether they are there for business or pleasure, does not usually spend as much time inside the establishment. Besides, “In city hotels there have other elements, like conferences and work conventions that involve different procedures.”

And it is in terms of technology that this department will continue to incorporate innovations in the coming years. We are working on a new project to implement payments during online check-ins. Another goal is for the customers to get their room key on their mobile phone. But without a doubt, the biggest project is to make a qualitative leap with the RUMBO tool (our PMS) and to change all the technology so that we can apply functions that we have not yet implemented, in other words, to evolve the tool.

The smile of the reception staff is very real, as it reflects all the effort that has already gone into the job. Our colleagues at the front desk and hotel receptions do a great job to guarantee you the best possible service. Everything is planned and carefully thought out so that you feel at home and have everything you need as soon as you walk through the door of our hotels.

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