On completion of this module, YOU will be able to: • Demonstrate knowledge of the key functional • areas of front office • Describe the function and activities of the • reservations, reception and cashiers departments • Analyse guest accounting processes • Review the use yield management, statistics and • reports within the front office operation • Explain the importance of security and safety within rooms division including key • legislation for reception operations • Describe the key features of the communication services available to guests • Explain the role front office plays in selling hotel services and facilities LESSON 3 – FRONT OFFICE OPERATIONSprof.ssa Maria Luisa Savi
HOTELAREAS ENTERTAINMENT BAR - RESTAURANT WELLBEING COMFORT LOBBY RECEPTION Every area in a hotel is a nucleus of activities, tasks and duties OUTDOOR
HOTEL SECTIONS 1) WELCOME – reception, lobby • The hall is the welcome area of a hotel. Here the first encounter with a guest occurs and the guest gets his/her first opinion about the welcome he/she is going to receive, it doesn’t matter if It’s a business or leisure stay. It’s a very representative section. 2) ENTERTAINMENT – restaurant and bar • The restaurant is made up of two sections: a. In full view of the guests : the lounge. An agreeable, relaxing and cosy atmosphere. b. Out of guest’s sight: the professional kitchen, wine cellar, storeroom, pantry, kitchen staff’s offices and rooms, etc. • Bar
HOTEL SECTIONS 3) COMFORT – rooms and suites A room is the heart of the hotel, the place where the guest places all his/her expectations which will affect the stay satisfaction. It is the place which conveys comfort and intimacy and which can be soothing like one’s own home. Like home it reproduces the family spaces of rest and relax. 4) WELLBEING – gym, sauna etc. It is a very important area where the guest can be pampered and can dedicate time for self care and wellness. 5) OUTDOOR - garden, car park This area is the visiting card of the hotel.
THE PERFECTLY SERVICED HOTEL 1) Lobby Guests should be greeted on arrival and taken straight to their room and not have to wait at the check in too long. There should also be plenty of space for meetings and just sitting and watching the world go by. When the guests leave, they’ll be able to grab an espresso for that early Morning dash to the airport. The lobby has to be discreet and not too public. The lighting is low and welcoming. Staff never have casual conversation with each other in front of the guest. There’s plenty of seating in the lobby for meetings and waiting around. There’s a good espresso bar for early morning caffeine hits. There’s a manager around the lobby to deal with problems: he/she’s not hiding in the back office. Free wi-fi throughout the hotel. Elevators are silent.
ROOM FLOORS 2) Room floors. Staff should stop vacuuming as guests pass. Room service should come on trays not trolleys. 3) Rooms. Rooms should work as places to relax. There should be an old-school radio to capture the sound of the city, a wide choice of morning newspapers , cosy bathrooms, heated floors, soundproof windows that can be opened for a fresh start of the day. Heated floors keep guests’ toes toasty warm. There are lots of electrical sockets at the bed but most importantly beside the bed. An easy to operate TV with a wide range of international channels. An old-school radio. An alarm clock that can be set by the guest. The furniture is solid wood, no cheap veneers. Peninsula-style cupboards mean laundry and newspaper can be left without knocking . There are always fresh flowers in fresh water. An iron and ironing board are on hand: why wait 24 hours to have a shirt pressed? The mini-bar is at shoulder height: no crawling on one’s knees for a cold beer. Windows clean and a balcony where possible makes the difference.
First impressions by Saul Taylor Different cultures have very different notions of what constitutes a good first impression. Americans generally agree that a big white smile, a firm handshake and a loud, humdinger of a hello makes unforgettable impact, while the Japanese will bow, wait for someone else to introduce them and tender a business card before they even open their mouth. Similar cultural axioms apply to the hotel industry and, unfortunately, the majority of properties get the subtleties altogether wrong. One has to wonder whether there should be more efforts made to manage and monitor a universal ‘first impression manifesto’ that could bring some stateliness to hotel management the world over. In hospitality first impressions are paramount. Many elements combine to create a great first impression at any hotel in any location: the cut of a doorman’s coat or the just-so jaunt of a bell-hop’s hat; the slight resistance of a revolving door or the proper click on a polished parquet; and most importantly, the airtight attitude of the staff which should filter down from the general manager’s office and should all unite in flawless concert. Of course not all properties are the same, so expectations and mood alter around the art of arrival. At a grand Hong Kong property the feet should never touch the ground from arrival at Chek Lap Kok to crossing the threshold, while at a solid Swiss three-star you’re content to let yourself in late as the key glides into the lock. Everything is well lit and the front door closes with a reassuring thud.
First impressions What the two have in common is that they both work perfectly and respond to guests’ desires to be public, private or completely invisible. Hotels should be caring less about creating a ‘home from home’ (who in their right minds would want to stay in their own house when they’re away?) , and should concentrate instead on the new and reassuring maxim of ‘comfort comes from seamless service’. Apply this from the first impression to last and then maybe we can talk about a block booking. (from Monocle Feb. 2010) DISCUSS: what would you like for your stay in a hotel? A home-like stay? Something different but exceptional?
THE CHECK IN CHECK LISTWHY WE ARE ALL IN THE HOSPITALITY BUSINESS AND WHAT WE SHOULD DELIVER 1. A warm, genuine welcome. 2. A sincere smile and piercing eye contact. 3. Refreshments – warm and chilled 4. Speed married with thoroughness. 5. Impeccable manners and diction. 6. Genuine interest and curiosity. 7. Immaculate presentation. 8. Prompt follow-up and execution. 9. A twinkle in your tone. 10. An unswerving sense of dignity. (from Monocle Feb. 2010)
FRONT OFFICE OPERATIONS The primary function of the front office is that of a facilitator between the guest and other departments of the hotel. Another job of Front office desk is also to support and help in providing services to the guests. The number of interactions and transactions between the guest and the hotel during a guest stay, determine the type and nature of front office operations. The stages of guest stay are: • pre-arrival • arrival • occupancy • departure Various trans actions between the guest and the hotel, therefore, depend upon the stage of the guest stay. The transactions can be best understood by going through the guest cycle.
FRONT OFFICE OPERATIONS The Guest Cycle Transportation Baggage handling Reservations Guest cycle Bill settlement Departure Pre-arrival Check out Currency exchange Doormen & porters Arrival Check in Occupancy Safe deposits Registration Maintaining guests accounts Room assignment Mail and information Issuing of keys Telephone calls Baggage handling Transportation
HOTEL TRANSACTIONS All these services and transactions are handled by the front office department. The functions and services of the front office department can be differentiated depending upon the area where they are being performed. Some of the functions are performed by the reception desk as front-of-the- house operations and rest are performed as back-of-the-house operations.
FRONT OFFICE FUNCTIONS Front- office activity or back-office activity?
FRONT OFFICE FUNCTIONS KEY 1) Sell guest rooms Front office activity 2) Provide information on hotel services Front office activity 3) Coordinate guest services Front office activity 4) Chart room status reports Back office activity 5) Maintaining guest accounts Back office activity 6) Settlement of guest accounts Front office activity 7) Construct guest history file Back office activity
Front office operations What is the ‘front office’ ? When people decide that they want or might want, to stay in a hotel, they may: ● Check out the hotels, and e-mail the reservation department to ask about room rates and availability. ● Telephone the hotel or switchboard and ask to speak to someone (perhaps in the reservation department) about room rates and availability, the facilities and location of the hotel and other information that will help them make the decision to book. ● Walk in off the street and approach the front desk to ask about room rates and availability (perhaps test out the friendliness and general ‘look’ of the hotel). When the guest makes the decision on the exact room to book with the given number of nights, there may be some follow up correspondence to confirm the booking, give extra information (such as maps on how to get to the hotel) or make adjustments to the booking as the guest’s plans change. When the guest arrives, (s)he will go to a reception desk to register, be allocated a room & receive a room key (with information about the facilities and service of the hotel). There may be a porter to help the guest with luggage or to show the room to the guest.
Front office operations During the stay, the guest will come to the reception for many reasons; to collect messages, to leave and pick keys, to know some information, to make a complaint or to get a problem solved, etc. The hotel may offer additional service such as currency exchange facilities, or use of an in-house office facility, restaurant or spa, or an information and reservation/ticketing service for local attraction and activities. The guest will receive theses by ringing the hotel switchboard or approaching the front desk. At the end of stay, guest will handover the key to the reception and will settle the bill.: help may be required with luggage or onward transport. Even after the departure the hotel office will keep the guest’s registration details on file for a specific period. (any other queries or special offers) , so that the guest will arrive back next time. “First impression will be the last impression” so it’s the job of the front office/reception to make the guest satisfied.
Front office operations What is the ‘front office’ ? In a small hotel, front office functions may be carried out by a single person at a reception area or front desk: answering the switchboard, taking bookings, welcoming and registration guests, billing and processing payment and so on. In a large hotel, there may be separate departments dividing these responsibilities, including: ● Switchboard: taking and routing telephone calls ● Reservation: taking bookings ● Reception (or front office): welcoming and registering guests at the main reception desk ● Concierge / enquiries: answering guests’ and visitors’ questions; handling mail and guest keys; perhaps also handling car hire, tour booking and entertainment tickets for guests ● Billing office: preparing guests’ accounts and bills ● Cashier: receiving guests’ payments and processing other financial transactions (currency exchange) ● Uniform staff: luggage porters, lift attendants, doormen, cloakroom attendants, garage attendants or valet parking etc.
Front office operations Why are front of house activities important? Front of house activities are important for several reasons such as: ● Front office may be the first contact a guest or prospective guest has with the hotel (in written, by telephone or in person) – Help people decide to whether to choose the hotel (or not!) - winning or losing a prospective customer; – Influence everything else they think about the hotel. Due to what psychologists call the 'halo effect', a good first impression may predispose guests to think well of their rooms, the service they are given during their stay and so on. A bad first impression may put them on the alert for other bad 'signals', and incline them to find fault with everything else.
Front office operations ● Front office is the 'service hub' of the hotel: the area where most guest contacts and transactions take place throughout their stay. Guests' experience of 'hotel service' is, therefore, mainly shaped by front office personnel and procedures. This is important because the quality and style of service is a major factor in: – Providing an enjoyable, relaxing, satisfying experience for guests - which is, after all, the hotel's raison d'être; – Helping the hotel 'stand out' from its competitors, which may have similar rooms and facilities; – Ensuring that guests will want to return again - and meanwhile, will give a positive report of the hotel (recommend), to other people. Hotels rely on this positive word of mouth promotion, and definitely don't want guests spreading negative reports, especially since the Internet allows them to tell thousands of other travellers (in online hotel review sites or travel 'blogs') when they've had a good - or bad - experience. ● Front office has a special responsibility for dealing with guests' problems and complaints; the 'critical incidents' which can make all the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Front office operations ● Front office is the communications hub of the hotel (information is exchanged by and with all other departments). If reception fails to tell housekeeping to make a room ready for arriving guests; or fails to relay a guest complaint about faulty air conditioning to the maintenance department; or fails to make a booking in the hotel restaurant for the guest the system breaks down, and the guest is not served. Likewise, if reception fails to heed housekeeping's warning that a room needs repair or redecoration; or fails to add a dinner charge, sent through from the restaurant, to the guest's bill – the system fails. ● Front office is the administrative hub of the hotel, where reservations are logged, room allocations are planned, room status is monitored, guest bills are prepared, payments are processed, records are kept, information displays are maintained; etc. If all these tasks aren't carried out efficiently, the hotel would simply cease to function.
Organization structure : a small hotel A typical structure for a small hotel offering both accommodation and catering might be as shown In Figure 1.1. Staff members are likely to carry out a variety of tasks within their general area: (e.g.. The restaurant staff will also deliver room service and serve tea and coffee in the lounge; the receptionist will handle reservations, check-in and check-out, billing, mail and switchboard; etc. manager and assistant manager will handle a variety of administrative and decision-making tasks: purchasing, book-keeping, marketing and etc.). A simple small hotel structure Manager Assistant Manager Reception Housekeeping Kitchen Restaurant Porters
Organization structure : a larger hotel In a larger hotel, it is possible to organise staff into more clearly defined departments, each with a supervisor or department head (in a medium-sized hotel) or a manager (in a large hotel). There will also be more specialised staff, because the hotel can afford to employ more people – and there will be more work for each person to do. The main revenue-earning functions of the hotel are generally split into a Rooms Division (responsible for accommodation) and a Food and Beverages Division (responsible for catering). In a medium-sized hotel, there might be a manager and one or more assistant managers, who supervise operations (probably on a shift basis, so that there is some managerial supervision seven days per week). In a large hotel, there will be a general management team, responsible for planning and coordinating the business and operations of the hotel. Unlike the 'hands on' manager of a small hotel, the manager here is essentially a business manager, responsible for policy, planning and control: (s)he may only rarely encounter guests or intervene in day-to-day hotel decisions. The 'duty manager' – as assistant managers at this level are often called - is the one with hands-on responsibility for dealing with guests, and resolving problems and queries referred by front office staff. A number of duty managers may be employed to cover a 24-hour roster, so there is always someone available to deal with guest issues.
Organization structure : a larger hotel General manager Manager accounting sales/ marketing duty man. security HR/Personnel room division food & beverage security front office housekeeping maintenance kitchen restaurant reservation banqueting bars cashier room service reception
Reservations Reservations clerks are responsible for taking enquiries from prospective guests, travel agents, Group or conference organisers and other parties who may wish to reserve accommodation. Their role is to obtain the information required to make a booking; record that information in manual or computerised reservation records; monitor the levels of reservations; issue any documentation to guests to confirm the booking (e.g.. confirmation letters, requests for deposit); and ensure that reception is Informed of the confirmed reservation details and expected arrivals for each day. A reservations manager or supervisor will be in control of the section, organise staff duty rosters, And make decisions on whether and which bookings should be accepted (if the hotel is fully booked, or bookings have to be 'juggled' to maximise occupancy). Advance reservations may be handled by the receptionist in a small hotel, but many hotels will have a separate reservations desk or department - perhaps in a back office near reception, since most reservation requests come in by telephone, mail, e-mail or online, rather than via 'walk ins'.
Reception – front desk 'Reception' may be an umbrella term for all front-office functions, but in larger hotels, there is likely to be a specialreception desk. The main roles of receptionists (or front desk agents) are: taking enquiries and reservation Requests from 'walk in' Visitors; preparing for the arrival of guests; greeting guests on their arrival; checking guests in (registering them, allocating suitable rooms and checking methods of payment); selling the facilities and services of the hotel; responding to guest problems and queries, or referring them to other departments that can do so; providing information about Guests to other front office units and departments of the hotel; and maintaining guest records. The reception desk in a very small hotel may only operate extended business hours (say, 7.30 am To 8.30 pm) to cover the main peaks of activity. The hotel will often post an 'after hours' contact Number (or operate an intercom system) to allow late-arriving guests, or guests with problems during the night, to contact a designated 'on-call' person (often a resident caretaker or manager). A larger hotel will seek to cover the reception desk on a 24/7 basis, with a permanent night staff or night shift.