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Module 15: Hotel Front Office Operations

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Front Office Relationship to Other Departments

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Hospitality Management

Front Office and Other Departments

The front office is the centre of guest transactions in a hotel and so often acts as the centre for collection and distribution of guest information.

Such information may help other departments in providing the best service to guests throughout the different stages of the guest cycle.

Housekeeping

The housekeeping department requires the following information from the front desk:

Check-in, occupied and check-out rooms in order to organise room cleaning
Special requests from guests, such as baby cot or extra blanket, etc., so that extra amenities and services can be provided to guests

In return, the housekeeping department will provide the actual room status to the front desk for comparison with the computer record which ensures that the front desk has the correct room status. Any discrepancy found will be double checked by the Assistant Manager.

Engineering

The engineering department is responsible for maintaining properly the hotel facilities under the care of the front office department such as the proper of functioning of the guest lift.

Security

The front office needs to provide guest information to the security department in the event of emergency; such as fire alarm, power failure and so on. When guest reports loss of property to the front office, security department will be informed to handle the case together with front office’s assistant manager.

Registration and Check-in Procedures

Most hotels allow their guests to check-in at 2 p.m. or after.


The registration procedures performed by receptionists should be efficient and accurate.

These contribute to a positive first impression to guests upon their arrival.

The standard procedures that should be followed by staff at the front desk, for the registration of guests, include the following:

Greet the Guest

Receptionists should always be attentive to the presence of guests at the front door and lobby areas. They should give warm greetings to the guests when they approach the front desk.

Verify the Guest’s Identity

Ask if the guest would like to check-in. Verify the guest’s identity by checking his/her passport, booking voucher and confirmation number

Verify the Guest’s Identity

Ask if the guest would like to check-in. Verify the guest’s identity by checking his/her passport, booking voucher and confirmation number

Confirm the Method of Payment

If a credit card is used, check the guest’s name, the card’s validity and its date of expiry. For guests who prefer paying cash, make sure they have paid in advance with cash deposit. Guests should also be reminded that they will not be allowed to post any charges to their guest accounts if no credit card is provided at the time of checking-in.

Check and Update the Guest’s Information

Check if any mail, message or article is received before the guest’s arrival. Select and assign a suitable room to the guest according to his/her booking information.

Issue Room Key and Give Further Information

While issuing the room key and giving directions to the guest, staff should also take the chance to provide more information on the hotel. For example, the breakfast arrangements; the operation hours of the hotel’s outlets and facilities

Escort Guest to the Room

Ask if the guest needs assistance from the baggage attendant who can take the guest’s baggage and escort the guest to their room.

The registration procedures of group guests (e.g. tours and event attendees) are different from the general procedures of checking-in an individual guest.

In order to speed up the service process and prevent guests from waiting too long in the lobby, the following procedures are usually performed by staff at the hotel reception desk.

Up-selling During the Check-in Process

By examining the check-in procedures of a front desk receptionist, please discuss and answer the following questions:

At which stage should reception staff conduct up-selling during the check-in process?

What kinds of products or services can be recommended by reception staff in an up-selling task?

In which situations should reception staff forego up-selling?

During the process of registration, the front desk clerk will request to see the guest’s identity card or passport to check if the guest is an alien, for verification purpose.

When all formalities are completed, the front desk clerk will issue the room key to the guest. The baggage porter will then take the guest’s baggage and escort the guest to the guest room.

Guests who arrive at the hotel without having made a reservation are known as walk-ins. It is common practice for hotel staff to obtain from the guest a substantial deposit or credit card imprint before checking the guest into the hotel.

Mr Christie, a walk-in guest, will stay in your hotel for one night only and will be fully responsible for all charges incurred.

As a front desk clerk, how would you explain to the guest that you have to collect one night room rate plus a 10% service charge from him as the deposit for a check-in?

The standard hotel check-out time is usually set at 12 p.m. or before, although this can vary by hotel and location.

The check-out procedures are as important as check-in since guests would expect they can leave with no troubles on their bills.

Important issues that the reception staff should put into focus are payment collection, customer assistance and to create a positive parting impression to guests.

The standard check-out procedures that should be followed by reception staff at the front desk, include
the following:

Greet the Guest

Same as the check-in procedure, through greeting, reception staff can take the chance to ask the guest for his/her comments on their stay.

Check Guest Details

It is important to check guest’s details, e.g. the guest’s name and room number. Double check with the guest so to make sure satisfactory services were provided to the guest during their stay. Also ask the guest to return the room key.

Check for Late Check-out Charges

Normally, hotels would request their guests to check-out before 12pm. Receptionists should follow the hotel’s policy for handling the cases of late check-out. Some hotels would charge 50% of the daily room rate for those who check-out before 6pm and a full rate is charged after 6pm.

Double-Check the Hotel Charges

Produce the bill for guest inspection and master bills for a tour escort’s inspection. The receptionist should print and present the bill to the guest for his/her checking before settlement. It is the responsibility of the receptionist to explain the charges to the guest and if he/she has any queries, make corrections if necessary.

Settle the Guest Account

Re-confirm the method of payment. Some guests, especially business travelers and tours would like to split their bill into two different bills:

Master bills, include room and breakfast charges only.
Incidental bills contain personal expenses

Offer Assistance

Ask if the guest needs any assistance with bell service, shuttle bus or arrangement of other transportation. Some may request the front desk to keep their baggage for a certain period before their departure. Staff should also take the chance to help guests in making future reservations upon request.

Update Room and Guest History Record

After checking out the guest, make sure to update the room status to facilitate room cleaning and make the room available for sale as efficiently as possible. Through the help of new information technology, guest-history profiles can be automatically created and updated upon check-out by the property management system (PMS).