The hotel’s guest stays cycle can be divided into four main stages. Within these four stages, there is important task related to guest services and guest accounting.
Front office employees must be aware of guest services and guest accounting activities at all stages of the guest stay. Front office staff can effectively serve the guest if they have a clear understanding of the flow of business in the hotel. Guest Cycle also represents a systematic approach to front office operations.
1. Pre – Arrival
The Guest chooses a hotel during the pre-arrival stage of the guest cycle. Choice of the guest can be affected by many factors, including previous experiences with the hotel, advertisement, word of mouth referral by friends and colleagues, location, corporate, travel agent booking, hotel name, hotel loyalty program member etc.
The guest’s decision of making the reservation can also be affected by the ease of making the reservation and the way reservation agent interacted and described the facility of the hotel like room type, room rate, recreational facilities and other attractions near the hotels etc.
We can certainly call the reservation area as the sales office for non-corporate or group bookings. Its employees should be sales orientated and present positive, strong image of the hotel.
If a reservation can be accepted, the reservation agent creates a reservation on the hotel management software. The creation of this reservation record starts the hotel guest cycle. This reservation contains details of the guest specific request which will help the hotel to provide the guest with personalized service during his stay.
The details which are collected during the reservation also helps the hotel to complete pre-registration activities like assign room according to guest request, room rate to be charged to the guest folio during the course of stay etc.
Although the reservation details help in providing guests with anticipatory service the primary objective of making the reservation is to make sure that room will be available when he arrives at the hotel.
The arrival stage of the guest cycle includes registration and room assignment process. After the guest arrives, he or she establishes a business relationship with the hotel through the front office. It is the front office staff responsibility to clarify any query of the guest especially the details of room rate of packages he/she is booked on.
Front office staff should determine the guest’s reservation status before beginning the check-in/registration process. Guest with reservation and guest without reservation commonly known as walk-ins also provides an opportunity for business for front desk staff.
A Registration card or Reg. card is printed and completed at the time of check-in, which will help the front desk to collect essential information. The reg. card should contain details like billing instructions, reservation details, number of adults and children occupying, address, passport and visa for foreign nationals, full address, personal details and credit card details. Because the guest and hotel gain certain legal benefits it is mandatory to get guest signature on the registration card.
The registration process is complete once a method of payment and the guest’s departure date have been confirmed and duly signed by the guest. The guest may be given a room key and direction to the room or escorted by the guest service associate or guest service manager.
When the guest checks-in to the room the occupancy stage of the guest cycle begins.
The manner in which the front office staff represents the hotel is important during the occupancy stage.
As the main contact centre for hotel activity, the front office is responsible for coordinating guest requests. Among those providing information and supplies to the guests.
Front desk should take extra care to respond to the guest in a timely and accurate manner. The main focus of the front desk staff is to provide anticipatory service and to meet or exceed the guest’s expectations. This will encourage the guest to repeat to the hotel.
Security is also a main important concern during occupancy of the guest. Issues like protection of funds and valuables are among those. The front desk should also follow the hotel standard operating procedure for handling the hotel and guest keys, property surveillance, safe deposit boxes, guests personal property, and emergencies are also important.
A variety of charges restaurant charges, telephone, internet, travel desk etc. during the occupancy stage affect guest and hotel account. Most of these charges will be posted to the guest account according to front office posting procedures. And also in most cases, the Room charges are the single largest charge on the guest folio.
Other front office financial tasks during the occupancy stage are to verify the charges posted to the guest account and checking guest accounts against the credit limit.
Guest services and guest accounting aspects of the guest cycle are completed during the cycle’s fourth and final phase ie departure.
At Departure, the guest vacates the room, receives the accurate statement of the settled accounts, returns the room keys and leaves the hotel. Once the guest has checked out, front office updates the rooms availability status and notifies the housekeeping department. ( For hotels using Property management software the status of the room is updated automatically ).
At this stage front office also collect the feedback of the guest experience in the hotels by handing over the guest feedback form.