Front Office Department In Hotels: Functions And Guest Cycle
The hospitality industry, like every industry, has two parts - the front office and the back office. The aim of the front office is to represent the company to the outside world, such as its clients, customers and communications. The aim of the back office is to run the operations smoothly. The front office department in hotels are important as they manage the guest cycle as well.
I’m sure everyone here has an idea of what the front office department in the hotel does, taking reservations, managing and coordinating sales and purchases, allocating rooms, check-In, and check out and attending to guest complaints and conflicts.
However, they have a much more important role and in this blog, we will break down the hotel front office department, its composition, role and how it helps the hotels function on a daily basis.
Table Of Content
Front Office Department In Hotels: Introduction
Importance Of Hotel Front Office
Hotel Front Office Department: Functional Roles
Hotel Guest Cycle
Front Office Department In Hotels: Introduction
The front office department is among the most important departments for hotels. It is this department that represents the property to the customers, and to the outside world. The aim of this department is to make reservations, guest service, room allocation and adjustment, check-in, check-out and various other functions.
This department is known as the hotel front office department because it is located in the foyer, the first thing visible to the guests. They are the first point of contact between the customers and the hotel before they arrive at the property and after arriving at the hotel. This process of interaction between the hotels and the guest is known as the guest cycle.
The front office department in the hotel is among the main revenue-earning departments. Their performance will determine the hotel’s profitability and growth. This department provides valuable services to the guests at all stages of the guest cycle - Pre-arrival, arrival, Occupancy, and departure.
The Importance Of Hotel Front Office
With diverse functions, the front office department in hotels is considered the nerve of the hospitality industry. Its main job is to coordinate with other departments and ensure that the hotel has a great reputation with the guests.
The front office department also maintains a database of all the important information of the guests. It also records all the transactions and settlements related to rooms, services and add-ons.
Hotel Front Office Department - Functional Roles
Now that we have discussed the basics of the hotel front office. Let us now discuss the various functional roles.
1. Front Office Manager
The main job of the front office manager is to oversee the front desk management. His or her job is to ensure the best guest experience at all stages. The front office manager has the responsibility is make schedules and ensuring that the front office is always staffed.
2. Reservation Manager
The primary role of the reservation manager is to handle reservations and ensure that the guests are getting the rooms they have booked. It also deals with cancellations and changes in bookings. It coordinates with the housekeeping and sales department of hotels. It is an important position in the front office department in hotels. They are the first point of contact in the hotel guest cycle.
3. Guest Service Manager
Some hotels have a guest service manager, whose main task is to ensure quality guest service and experiences. It also takes care of the training, staffing and scheduling, and also ensures that the other departments are working towards their goals.
4. Night Audit Manager
This position is known as the night auditor because it happens during the night time when the day gets over. The Night Audit Manager ensures that all the financial transactions are accounted for and all the settlements are completed. They also keep track of all the settlements that are still pending, especially those that are supposed to be settled after check-out.
5. Concierge Manager
Many hotels now have a concierge. Their main aim is to take over some functions of the front desk such as restaurant reservations, excursion bookings as well as booking tickets for various attractions. Their main purpose is to enhance the hotel guest experience.
Hotel Guest Cycle
The hotel guest cycle refers to the various stages of the guest experience. It is of utmost importance for the front office manager to understand these guest cycles and how to interact with the customer during each stage.
The guest cycle can be divided into - Pre - Arrival, Arrival, Occupancy and Departure and Post Departure. Let us understand each of these stages in detail. All the departments and managers within the front office department in hotels have to coordinate to get the best result.
This is the first stage of the guest experience. Even though the guest has not checked in yet, it is important to provide the gist of the hotel experience. The reservation manager plays an important role at this stage. He or she takes enquiry from the guests and takes the booking.
This is the stage where all the doubts and queries of the guests need to be cleared. If the guest does not have a smooth experience while making bookings, the guest will not book the stay and will choose some other hotel instead. Since OTAs have now become a major source of bookings, a channel manager is required as well.
Once a reservation is made, the reservation team records the booking in the reservation management system. The room is allotted at this time as well and recorded in the property management system.
This is the most important stage in the guest cycle, especially for front office managers and reception. It is at this stage that the guest arrives to stay. There are usually two types of booking, advanced bookings and walk-in bookings. For the walk time bookings, consider pre-arrival and arrival as the same stage.
As far as pre-booking is concerned, you need to confirm the booking with the guests. Nowadays, OTAs and booking engines send a confirmation list to both the hotelier and the guests. The hotel front office needs to check whether they have the confirmation email.
If it's there, then voila! The rooms are allotted, right? Actually, there is another important stage. The IDs of the guests need to be checked before the booking is allotted, as per law. The ID should be a government-provided one, with a photo and name.
In case of any discrepancy, for example, the hotel didn’t get the booking confirmation from the OTA or booking engine, then the hotel has to compensate by either:
Booking a room for them on the spot
Getting them an upgrade
Giving them a refund.
However, you need to avoid any mistakes at this stage. It is after this stage that the occupancy stage begins.
This is the most important stage for the hotel because this is the time to showcase the hotel guest experience. You need to coordinate with the housekeeping department, F&B Department and various other departments to ensure the best performance for the hotel.
The front office needs to be attentive to the guest's requests and ensure that they are being fulfilled. They also need to take stock of the guest's complaints and resolve any issues in a polite and professional manner.
This is also a great time for the F&B department, as well as the other departments to shine. If your property is located at a popular sightseeing location, you can also have a travel desk to book tickets and provide guides for excursions.
This is the stage at which the guest checks out and the bills are settled. You need to remember that a good farewell is as important as a good welcome. You need to take feedback with a smile and even inform them of any new upgrades that will be ready to use in the future. You can also try to sell them loyalty programs, that the guest can then use for their next stay.
5. Post Departure
Many people assume that marketing ends when the guest leaves the property. No! You have to up your game even post-departure! You need to keep promoting your property to the guests, and also keep on taking feedback on how to improve the guest experience. Remember, you are building a relationship, not merely selling a hotel room. It is the concluding stage of the hotel guest cycle.
We hope that we have given a good gist of the front office department in hotels. It is among the most important departments of the hotel industry, without which the entire operations will be dysfunctional.
Bigfoot Hospitality is a one-stop solution for Hotel Revenue Management, Hotel Marketing and Reservation management. We have a team of dedicated reservation managers who will take care of enquiries and reservations. We also manage bookings through OTAs and hotel websites. We are a complete hotel management package!
Read our blogs to know more about the hotel industry and its various concepts, trends and challenges.