LANGHAM PLACE HOTEL boasts some of the most advanced technology for a hotel, such as wireless broadband connectivity and Cisco IP phone services throughout. But this has resulted in a unique demand - round-the-clock technical support for guests. The hotel had considered increasing the manpower in its information technology department or outsourcing the support service to an IT help desk. But as neither option delivered immediate support at customer service levels to satisfy the hotel, the management decided to train some of its own staff as 'guests' support technologists', or GSTs. This was decided shortly after the hotel opened in July 2004. Staff from all hotel departments are welcome to volunteer as GSTs. During their working hours, they are on standby to come to the assistance of guests with IT problems. When a guest calls for help, the GST must set aside his or her regular duties and immediately head to the guest's room to fix the problem. Although the GSTs receive no extra pay or incentives, their response has been enthusiastic, said Eva Lo, the hotel's training manager. Ivy Leung, the hotel's director of human resources, said: 'People who work in the front line of the hotel industry relish opportunities to talk to customers. They feel very good when they can talk to a customer about an IT problem and then solve it. They are proud to be able to help. That is the beauty of the programme.' In the first round of recruitment for GSTs, 20 employees signed up. The number of GSTs went up to 55 with two subsequent intakes. Before their training, these staff members might have been just as technologically challenged as the guests seeking IT help. But after their training, they were able to handle most common IT problems encountered by guests. Under the guidance of the hotel's IT manager, the GSTs are familiarised with the hotel's IT system, procedures, computer settings, the set-up in rooms and the different types of equipment guests might be using. Ms Lo is in charge of customer service training to teach the GSTs etiquette and communication skills. The trainees must score at least 75 out of 100 in a written test to qualify as a GST. The IT manager is present during a GST's first three visits to attend to guest problems. The GSTs are given points according to a checklist covering technical and communication skills. A minimum of 80 per cent is required to keep the title. GSTs gather every month for updates from the IT manager on the latest kinds of equipment used by business travellers. They also share their experiences as GSTs. It was found that GSTs were able to resolve 85 per cent of the problems reported by guests. The balance 15 per cent problems were rated as being 'too difficult' or 'too technical'. Customer satisfaction tracking showed that the GSTs had enhanced guests' overall hotel experience. The cost of investing in GST training has been minimal - the IT manager's and the training manager's time plus course materials - but the returns have been high.