There are 4 main phases that a guest will go through when staying at a Hotel. These are:
Front office activity continues throughout the four phases of the guest cycle.
Pre-Arrival [Phase 1]
We are looking at the interaction between the guest and the hotel in this process before the guest arrives at the hotel. This involves guest inquiry, reservation making, terms confirmation, and any preparation that takes place in anticipation of the visit of the guest.
Prior to liaising with the guest, a hotel employee should have some knowledge of the hotel. This is significant because, for the duration of the stay, the first interaction with the potential guest will affect the way the guest feels
The guest may have limited hotel details. Depending on the efficiency of the individual who answers the telephone, or assists the guest at the front desk, he may decide to stay at that hotel.
In the modern world inquiries generally come through 3 main sources. Namely:
- Telephone call
- Online booking/inquiry forms
It can also be conducted by someone who makes the inquiry on behalf of the guest. For example a travel agent.
Remember this when selling Hotel rooms
Know, rooms that are not sold for a specific night, such as 18 October 2021, will be lost forever.
The fact that the hotel has a set room inventory means that every night, only a certain number of rooms can be sold.
Therefore, in order to compensate for the loss, if a room is unsold one night, the hotel cannot offer an extra room the next night.
Arrival [Phase 2]
It all starts with greeting the guest. In order to achieve guest satisfaction, welcoming a guest in a polite, friendly manner will go a long way. Bear in mind, to get to your hotel, the guest may have driven a long way and could be tired. A sympathetic comment and helpful attitude will create a good impression.
When a new guest arrives at your desk, even if you are busy handling someone else’s reservation, make eye contact and acknowledge his presence. Let the guest know that you’ll be with them as soon as possible. Do not allow any guest to feel neglected.
Check in / Registration
If the guest has not made a reservation, it is considered a ‘walk-in’ and they can only be accommodated if unreserved rooms are open. Guests who have made reservations already and have guaranteed these reservations should always take precedence over walk-ins.
You can retrieve the reservation and check the details if the guest has made a reservation. You may ask the guest to sign the registration indemnity form. Guests are supposed to fill out the registration form or card by law.
Some hotels will assign rooms to the guest only once they have completed the check-in and registration process. Other hotels will draw up the room allocations before arrival. There are advantages to each method and your hotel will choose a method that fits them best.
Once the room is allocated the Front desk will issue the guest with a key and they will be shown to their room.
What to do during check-in if the hotel is overbooked
- Do not tell the guest that the hotel is overbooked.
- Ensure that the hotel really is full.
- This can be done by way of looking at the housekeeper’s report to see if there are any vacant rooms that are not reflected on the front office system.
- Check whether any guests who reserved for a longer period have left before their expected departure date.
- Are there any rooms available where the occupant left the hotel without paying or informing the front desk?
- Are there any rooms marked ‘out of order’, which may be used at a reduced tariff. If, for instance, the air-conditioning needs to be repaired and the room is otherwise in order, the guest could be asked whether he would be prepared to stay in the room at a reduced rate.
- Check the arrivals list and see whether all cancellations have been processed so that the occupancy data reflects this.
- Check the arrivals list for guaranteed reservations, VIPs, or guests that require special attention. Guests with guaranteed reservations should always enjoy preference over those with non-guaranteed reservations.
- Check the luxury rooms and suites for any vacancies. Guests may have been upgraded (at no extra cost) to a better room. The hotel will have to bear the loss of the additional revenue that a luxury room may have generated.
There are also situations where a guest arrives and produces a letter confirming his reservation and you have no record of this reservation.
- Check that the guest’s letter originates from your hotel. It may be that there are similar hotels in an area and the guest has arrived at the incorrect one.
- Check that the date of arrival is the current date. Some guests get dates mixed up.
- Inspect your reservations information for the next day and the next month. The reservation may have been misfiled.
- Check your cancellation lists: the guest’s name could be been put onto it by mistake.
- Check your filing under both the first name and surname
- Finally, if the reservation cannot be retrieved and there are rooms available, try and allocate a room requested by the guest. Once the guest has been shown to the room, make every effort to locate the source of the miscommunication, to avoid billing the guest twice.
Occupancy [Phase 3]
During the occupancy phase of the guest cycle, the other departments will have their own duties to fulfill in order to ensure the guest has a memorable stay. The Front Desk will be responsible for organizing and communicating between the various departments.
Other services that the Front Office will provide to guests during the occupancy phase can include:
- giving information to guests
- canceling or changing room reservations
- replying to and filing mail
- cashiering and accounting duties
- making restaurant or theatre reservations on behalf of the guests
- giving directions and handing out maps
- dealing with complaints and compliments
- arranging storage of guest’s property
Departure [Phase 4]
You should plan for this function in advance. Preparation speeds up the guest checkout and departure process. One way you can do this is to get a list of departures scheduled for the next day.
All guests should be encouraged to check out on time and plan for their accounts to be settled. If a guest is eager to leave before a certain time they can arrange this with the FOH.
Front office staff should also be aware that often guests who were not completely satisfied with their stay will voice this dissatisfaction at checkout. Unfortunately, as you know this is much too late is it is impossible to fix the issue at this late stage, however, the way the staff member handles this guest complaint can be the difference between the guest returning to the hotel or not.