The purpose of the reception desk is to receive guests and to welcome them to the hotel. The moment of arrival or check-in is the raison d’etre of the whole department. It is the duty of the receptionist to make a new guest feel at ease on arrival.
The reception staff must be well prepared with all the relevant check- in information to hand so that everything may proceed smoothly.
The receptionist should be able to allocate rooms to customers immediately without their having to wait in the foyer and he must keep a watch that customers do not leave without paying.
The reception desk should be in the front office near the main entrance so that it is easily visible on arrival by guests who do not know their way about the hotel. Another reason for putting the reception desk near the main entrance is to keep an eye on the guests either arriving or leaving the hotel.
An entrance which is unsupervised is an open invitation to guests to walk out without paying or to smuggle extra customers into their rooms.
Some customers, who have no previous booking, approach the reception desk. The receptionist should greet this chance arrival and enquire if they have a reservation or not. The receptionist should collect the information regarding the type of room required and if any such room is available.
If the answer is in the affirmative the guests should be given registration cards to complete. Next the customers should be asked for a deposit by the receptionist.
The moment a guest arrives at the reception desk it should be ensured that the legal implications of the registration legislature are compiled with. Legally a non-alien has to give only his or her full name along with nationality and address and signature. If the guest is an alien, he has to furnish the following information:
(i) The number of his passport or registration certificate.
(ii) The place of issue of his passport or registration certificate.
(iii) Details of his next destination and. if possible his full address there.
The main problem is that the guest, particularly the chance guest, should not leave without paying. The best policy is to ask all guests to pay a deposit on arrivals so that in the event of their departing without payment, a part of the bill may be covered.
Since a hotel is a public place, it is open to many different types of fraud or security problems, which the receptionist has to prevent.
The arrival of a tour or large group puts severe strain on reception and front office staff. When a large group of people, say 40 or 50 arrive at the hotel, all expect to get their rooms as quickly as possible.
Registration of a tour group through the checks-in process may be a problem. If the tour company sends the guests’ details in advance, there is no necessity for each customer to register individually.
It should be remembered that legally a hotel is obliged to accept every traveller who arrives and the only grounds for refusing a person a room are if the hotel is already full or if it is felt that the customer is unfit to be received. By unfit, the law could mean a person who is drunk or who is a known prostitute. In either case it is better to simply say that the hotel is full.
The Guest In-House:
It is the responsibility of the front office staff of any hotel to deal with any information the guests might request and to answer any enquiries. The staff of the front office should be able to provide guests with information.
If any front office staff feels that it is not his responsibility to answer to queries from the guests it might be disastrous to guest relations.
Having completed their stay in the hotel the final morning arrives when customers have to pay for all those services that they have made use of during their stay.
The Cashier in hotels are generally responsible for accepting Payment for guests’ bills as well as dealing with the exchange of foreign currency. It is also an important task to undertake the safe custody of guests’ valuable if so required.
It is an offence to leave a hotel without paying and the hotel may prosecute in order to obtain payment.
House Keeping is perhaps the most important front office support department. The house keeping department inspects rooms for sale, cleans the occupied and vacated rooms and co-ordinates a room’s status with the front office.
Within the rooms division there is the uniformed service packing attendants, door attendants, porters, drivers and bell persons. Uniformed service personnel have a great degree of contact with guests.
They greet and help guests to the front desk and to their rooms. At the end of the stay, they take guests to the cashier and to their means of transportation.