The front office department is the most visible department in a hotel. The focal point of activity within the front office is the reception desk. The reception desk is usually the place in which guest make the first impression of the hotel. It is also the communication center of the hotel. Since it is the first and last point of guest contact with the hotel the hotel spends a lump sum amount of money to make it look more luxurious and beautiful. We can see in most of the hotel's front office or the entrance point of the hotel is decorated and made luxurious in every way. It is also the communication centre for the hotel operation. Front office department plays an important role in image building of a hotel.
Front Office Department (Source: www.salayapavillion)
The reception desk includes front office cashier, information, and registration section. The other section of the front office is telephone operator, reservation and business centre. Every section of the front office has their own functions.
The functions of different front office sections are as follows:
A request for accommodation by the guest in a hotel for any particular period is called reservation. Reservationists are the employees responsible for accepting or rejecting the reservations made by the guests from different modes such as telephone, e-mail, fax, letters, etc
Guest Registration (source: www.hospitalityschool.com)
This section of the front office is responsible for the warm and friendly reception of all guest. Staffs working in this section are known as a receptionist. Receptionist are the staff who have a direct contact with the guest, thus they should pose an amiable personality with high-level o grooming at all the times.
This is the separate section under front office department which is located on the back side of the hotel. They are connected to the front desk and cannot be seen by the guest. A telephone operator is an employee in this section, responsible for handling all incoming and outgoing guest call and hotel calls. Telephone operator is responsible for posting of all charges incurred by the guests and the hotel employees while making out calls.
This is another section under front office department, which is located at the visible part of lobby separately within the lobby area or joined together with the front desk. This section is responsible for providing information related to the hotel, rooms, and facilities and about the city or towns where the hotel is located. Information centre of the front office is also responsible for handling guest mails and messages.
This section of the front office is located at the front desk. Front office cashier, working in this section is responsible for updating guest bills, keeping up to date cash and credit transactions of the guest and get them settled before the guest departure. Front office cashier should ensure the timely collection of all guest bills from different outlets and posts them in respective folios in case if the Front Office is not computerized.
Modern technology has changed the pace of information system. People can do their job in a home country from far countries. The role of fax, photocopying and secretarial work is deemed important t to provide these types of services to the guest. There may be demand for guest to translate and interpret services as well as the hire of laptops, computers, and portable telephones in their rooms. The responsibility of such type of services comes under business services. The arrangement of meeting rooms, conferences, is also one of the duties of business centre staff. It the hotel has many none – English speaking guests , then bilingual secretaries may be required in the business centre.
Lobby is the place where front office sections are located. Front office is the part of lobby but lobby is not the part of front office;
The bellboy escorts the guest from the main door to the front office. After the guest has registered, the front office informs the bell boy the room assigned, so that the guest may be escorted to his room and the luggage placed thereafter.
In most of the hotels the guest wishing to check out of the hotel informs the bell desk for their luggage down. The bell desk informs the front office of the intention of the guest to check out so that the cashier can prepare the bill. Only after the front office is satisfied regarding the payments of bills and retrieval of the room key, then they would they allow the bellboy to remove the luggage outside the premises of the hotel.
Often the guest requests the front office for a change of room the front office intimates the belly desks to send bellboys to help in shifting of luggage. Immediately they prepare room – shifting format and which is sent to housekeeping, telephone and room service for information regarding alternation.
The information section of the front office alerts the bellboys to deliver guest mails and messages to their rooms.
It is the system of displaying the name of the guest on a small board with a long handle. The board is held above the head of the bellboy and has small bells, which are rung to draw the attention of the guest to the board. When a phone call is received for a specified location, a paging system is used. The bell boy does the paging in public areas, especially in lobby.
1. Housekeeping room report
To keep a tight control over rooms, the housekeeping and front office have to coordinate closely. One way is through the room report, whereby, the housekeeping staffs checks each room of every floor and advice their staff by maintaining small room report form.
2. Discrepancy report
A discrepancy report is prepared by the front desk on receiving the room report from housekeeping. Front office compares it with the room and for a reconciliation of room status. Discrepancies noticed between room rack and housekeeping room report and noticed down on a separate report called "discrepancy report" which is then handed over to the bellboy for a physical check and to report back to the room under discrepancy.
3. Room clearance arrangements
When a guest checks out, front office immediately informs to the housekeeping desk to clean the room so that to resale it. This information is controlled on departure information control sheet. Housekeeping in return would have to inform the Front Office immediately after the room has been cleaned and prepared for sale to the guest. The checked out room handed over to the housekeeping is called Departure Room and cleared room handed over to the front office is known as "cleared Room".
4. Occupancy status
After reconciling the room rack with housekeeping room report, the front office reception compiles data on the "occupancy" position of the hotel for the day in the form of a report. This completion and analysis of occupancy data is referred to as "night room report" and is invariably prepared by the night receptionist.
5. Special arrangement of groups and VIP's
The front office informs the Housekeeping to be alert to attend to rooms occupied by groups or VIps . Service has to be quicker and efficient. Housekeeping provides "flowers" for VIPs in the room on receipt of amenities voucher issued by the front desk. Guest amenities to be supplied may be flower bunch, cookies Basket / welcome back cake (From Room Service) , slippers and bathroom amenities.
1. Front office cashier
Front office cashier receives payments for guest stay in the hotel. This is the point where all the charge vouchers (bills) generated by the guests are received to be included in the overall bill. Close relation between lobby manager and front office cashier is imperative. The bell captain must inform the cashier about the intended check out of the guest so that guest bills are updated and kept ready for presentation. Also, a cashier is informed of a new arrival by the reception by opening and forwarding new folio in the guest name, giving room number and check in time with defined billing instructions which the cashier places in the bill tray against the appropriate room.
2. Night auditor
The night auditor audits all the guest bill received from the front office cashier. He prepares and proves all the transaction for clarity and accuracy.
3. City ledger
Credit section receives a bill from Front Office that has extended credit as per previous agreements between the hotel and guests. This department follows up with the individual or company for payment of bills.
1. Arrivals Departures
For the service of Food and Beverages to the occupied rooms.
2. VIP procedures
Front office extends a relation with Room service for the guest amenities to be supplied (only for VIPs). The information from the front office is through amenities voucher.
There is very close coordination between the front office and sales; especially in soliciting their help in improving room sales on lean occupancy days. The front office also informs sales and marketing department whenever a guest who influences the business of hotel "check in" so that especial attention can be given to him or her. Sales keep the Front office updated with the new contracts made with travel agents, airlines crews, etc.
For the supply of relevant forms, formats and stationary, the front office and other departments have to keep in contact with the store and purchasing department.
Interdepartmental communication of front office with various departments (source ihmnotesblogspots.com)
Oli Gopal Singh et.al., Hotel Management Principles and Practices-XI, Buddha Prakashan, Kathmandu.
Bhandari, Saroj Sing et.al., Principles of Hotel Management-XI, Asmita Books Publication, Kathmandu.