Front Office Department
The front office is the nerve centre or hub of a hotel.
It is the department that makes the first and last impression on the guests, and the place that guests approach for information and service throughout their stays.
The attached image shows an organizational chart for the front office of a large hotel.
This illustrates the structure and lines of communication which operate within the front office department.
Front Office Manager
The front office department is headed by the front office manager (FOM) whose main duty is to enhance guest services by constantly developing services to meet the needs of guests..
The Assistant Manager represents the management in handling the daily operations and functions of the hotel and may directly report to the general manager in some hotels.
The Guest Relations Officer reports directly to the assistant manager.
They review the hotel arrivals list daily and attend to customer inquiries and assist them with their needs.
The telephone department is headed by the telephone services manager.
The telephone supervisor and telephone operator process all incoming and outgoing calls through the hotel switchboard. Staff in this department generally possesses good language and communication skills.
In order to provide better service, some hotels have introduced the “one-stop service” with all guest requests being carried out through the telephone department.
Phone department members need to:
Provide general information regarding the hotel or local attractions to guests
Place international calls, morning calls and wake-up calls as required by guests
Administer the paging system of the hotel, which provides a communication service between certain hotel staff and management staff
Administer the in-room movie system of the hotel
Stay familiar with the names of Very Important Persons (VIPs) in the hotel
Protect guest privacy by not disclosing room number or guest information
Communicate with management, engineering, security and guests
Perform the role of communications centre in the event of emergency
For example, if a guest called in and wanted to place a booking with the coffee shop, the line would be transferred by the telephone operator to the coffee shop.
With the “one stop service”, the telephone operator will take the booking for the guest. This can speed up the booking process and leave the guest with a better impression.
The reservations manager takes charge of this section and makes decisions on whether room reservations/bookings should be accepted when the hotel is fully booked. That is, to stop taking room reservations or to allow overbooking of rooms.
The reservations supervisor will monitor closely all the room reservations taken and report to the reservations manager when abnormal situations happen. For example, there is a larger number of room cancellations than usual.
Handle reservation requests and prepare reservation confirmation slips
Request guests to confirm or guarantee their room reservations
Keep records of each reservation and the number of room reservations taken
Provide the front desk with details of reservations due to arrive the next day
Prepare VIP lists
Update guest history records
Listed below are some of the different sources that reservations may
Direct reservation via telephone, fax, letter, e-mail or Internet
Reservation network systems such as Leading Hotels of the World (LHW)
When a reservation request is accepted, the details of the room reservation will be recorded on a reservation form.
Reservation information details are usually the guest name, staying period, room type and rate, method of payment, guest contact information and special requests.
For guaranteed reservations, the hotel will hold the room for the guest overnight or during the guaranteed period as the guest has prepaid for the room but no refund will be given if the guest does not show up.
Overbooking occurs when a hotel takes more reservations
than the number of rooms available. It is a common practice
of hotels which contributes to a higher chance of full house
while reducing the loss of last minute cancellations.
For those who cannot get a room upon arrival, the hotel will have no choice but walking the guests. This means that the hotel has to reject the guests, by turning away a guest with a reservation the hotel has breached the contract which can lead to legal actions.
It is common practice for hotels to overbook during peak season in order to ensure full occupancy, as some guests are likely not to show up. Overbooking refers to a situation whereby the hotel takes more reservations than the number of available rooms. Usually, the reservations clerk will request guests to guarantee their booking during peak season.
Major problems of overbooking which should be noted, include damage to the hotels reputation, increase in guest dissatisfaction and complaints.
Generally, receptionists should be able to anticipate overbooking and take appropriate actions prior to a guests arrival.
The front desk is headed by the front desk manager whose main duty is to ensure that the hotel achieves the highest possible level of room occupancy and the maximum revenue. Assisting and reporting to the front desk manager is the front desk clerk.
Front Desk Clerk
The duties of the front desk clerk include:
Greeting the guest
Providing information and promoting hotel facilities and services to guests
Checking in the guest
Maintaining guest account
Checking out the guest
Administering the safe deposit system of the hotel
Providing foreign currency exchange service to guest
The chief concierge is the overall in charge of this section. He/she normally works at a desk in the main foyer. The following guest services are provided by the concierge:
Providing information/advice on hotel
Confirming airline passages and purchasing
Reserving tables at restaurants and tickets
Arranging the hire of the hotel limousine or
other transportation services
Handling guest requests and inquiries
Greeting hotel guests at the airport
Arranging hotel transportation for guests
from the airport to the hotel
Answering inquiries from guests
Taking hotel room bookings
Assisting departing guests at the airport
Liaising with airlines for special arrangements for guests
The hotel drivers, duties include:
Taking guests to and from the airport
Upon request, acting as a personal driver
for a guest
In general, the door attendant works outside
the hotel’s entrance.
Door duties include:
Greeting all new arrivals
Providing door service to guests
Summoning baggage porter to assist arriving guests
Calling taxis and providing the hotel address card for guests
Paying taxi fare on behalf of the hotel guests who do not have local currencies
Directing traffic and parking of vehicles at the main entrance
Baggage Porter (Bell Attendant)
The baggage porters duties include:
Handling guest baggage
Escorting guests from the front desk to
Running errands for the executive office and
Delivering mail/messages to guest rooms
Handling storage of guest baggage/belongings
for late check-out
The executive floor manager oversees the smooth operation of the executive floors and business centre.
Business travelers who require an environment in which to conduct business with comfort and privacy may choose the executive floor for an additional fee.
The executive floor is usually the top floor of a hotel. Guests of the executive floor will enjoy a range of complimentary exclusive privileges and benefits which vary from one hotel to another.
Many hotels provide a business centre to both their business and leisure guests.
The range of services and facilities provided may include business equipment, presentation supplies, computers, meeting and function space with wired or wireless Internet access, secretarial and translation services.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Overbooking
Discuss the following questions:
1. What are the advantages of overbooking to a hotel?
2. What are the disadvantages of overbooking to a hotel?
3. What should be done in minimizing the problems of overbooking?