Front Office Interaction with Other Departments in the Hotel The front of? ce staffs interacts with all departments of the hotel, including marketing and sales, housekeeping, food and beverage, banquet, controller, maintenance, security, and human resources.
These departments view the front of? ce as a communication liaison in providing guest services. Each of the departments has a unique communication link with the front office staff. Food and Beverage Department Communication between the food and beverage department and the front of? e is also essential. Some of this communication is conveyed by relaying messages and providing accurate information on transfers, which are forms used to communicate a charge to a guest’s account. Communication activities also include reporting predicted house counts, an estimate of the number of guests expected to register based on previous occupancy activities, and processing requests for paid-outs, forms used to indicate the amounts of monies paid out of the cashier’s drawer on behalf of a guest or an employee of the hotel.These vital services help an overworked food and beverage manager, restaurant manager, or banquet captain meet the demands of the public. Incoming messages for the food and beverage manager and executive chef from vendors and other industry representatives are important to the business operation of the food and beverage department.
If the switchboard operator is given instructions on screening callers (such as times when the executive chef cannot be disturbed because of a busy workload or staff meetings, or vendors in whom the chef is not interested), the important messages will receive top priority.In a hotel that has point-of-sale terminals, computerized cash registers that interface with a property management system, information on guest charges is automatically posted to a guest’s folio, his or her record of charges and payments. When a hotel does not have point-of-sale terminals that interface with PMS point-of-sale terminals, the desk clerk is responsible for posting accurate charges on the guest folio and relies on transfer slips. Also, the night auditor’s job is made easier if the transfer slip is accurately prepared and posted.The front of? ce manager should work with the food and beverage director in developing standard operating procedures and methods to complete the transfer of charges. The supervisors in the food and beverage department rely on the predicted house count prepared by the front of? ce manager to schedule employees and predict sales. For ex- ample, the restaurant supervisor working the breakfast shift will want to know how many guests will be in the hotel so he or she can determine how many servers to schedule for breakfast service.
Timely and accurate preparation of this communication tool assists in staffing control and sales predictions. Authorized members of the food and beverage department will occasionally ask the front of? ce for cash, in the form of a paid-out, to purchase last-minute items for a banquet, the lounge, or the restaurant or to take advantage of other unplanned opportunities to promote hospitality. Specific guidelines concerning cash limits, turnaround time, prior approval, authorized signatures, and purchase receipts are developed by the general manager and front of? ce manager.These guidelines help to maintain control of paid-outs. Banquet Department The banquet department, which often combines the functions of a marketing and sales department and a food and beverage department, requires the front office to relay information to guests about scheduled events and bill payment. The front desk staff may also provide labour to prepare the daily announcement board, an inside listing of the daily activities of the hotel (time, group, and room assignment), and marquee, the curb side message board, which includes the logo of the hotel and space for a message.Since the majority of banquet guests may not be registered guests in the hotel, the front office provides a logical communications centre.
The daily posting of scheduled events on a felt board or an electronic bulletin board provides all guests and employees with information on group events. The preparation of the marquee may include congratulatory, welcome, sales promotion, or other important messages. In some hotels, an employee in the front office contacts the marketing and sales department for the message. The banquet guest who is unfamiliar with the hotel property will ask at the front of? e for directions. This service might seem minor in the overall delivery of service, but it is essential to the lost or confused guest. The front of? ce staff must know both how to direct guests to particular meeting rooms or reception areas and which functions are being held in which rooms. Front desk clerks, as shown in Figure 3-2, must be ready to provide information for all departmental activities in the hotel.
The person responsible for paying the bills for a special event wills also ? nd his or her way to the front of? ce to settle the city ledger accounts.If the banquet captain is not able to present the bill for the function, the front desk clerk should be informed about the specifics of food and beverage charges, gratuities, rental charges, method of payment, and the like. Marketing and Sales Department The marketing and sales department relies on the front of? ce to provide data on guest histories, details concerning each guest’s visit. Some of the information gathered is based on zip code, frequency of visits, corporate affiliation, special needs, and reservations for sleeping rooms.It is also the front office’s job to make a good ? rst impression on the public, to relay messages, and to meet the requests of guests who are using the hotel for meetings, seminars, and banquets. The guest history is a valuable resource for marketing and sales, which use the guest registration information to target marketing campaigns, develop promotions, prepare mailing labels, and select appropriate advertising media. The front of? ce staff must make every effort to keep this database current and accurate.
The process of completing the booking of a special function (such as a wedding reception, convention, or seminar) depends on the availability of sleeping rooms for guests. The marketing and sales executives may have to check the lists of available rooms three, six, or even twelve months in the future to be sure the hotel can accommodate the expected number of guests. A database of available rooms is maintained in the property management system by the front of? ce. The ? rst guest contact with the marketing and sales department is usually through the hotel’s switchboard.A competent switchboard operator who is friendly and knowledge- able about hotel operations and personnel will make a good ? rst impression, conveying to the prospective client that this hotel is competent. When the guest ? nally arrives for the function, the ? rst contact with the hotel is usually through the front of? ce staff. The front of? ce manager who makes the effort to determine which banquet supervisor is in charge and communicates that information to the desk clerk on duty demonstrates to the public that this hotel is dedicated to providing hospitality.
Messages for the marketing and ales department must be relayed completely, accurately, and quickly. The switchboard operator is a vital link in the communication between the prospective client and a salesperson in the marketing and sales department.The front of? ce manager should instruct all new personnel in the front of? ce about the staff in the marketing and sales department and what each person’s job entails (this applies to all departments in the hotel, not just marketing and sales). Front of? ce employees should know how to pronounce the names of all marketing and sales employees. To help front of? e staff become familiar with all these people, managers should show new employees pictures of the department directors and supervisors. Requests for service at meetings, seminars, banquets, and the like are often made at the front of? ce. The banquet manager, a person who is responsible for fulfilling the details of service for a banquet or special event, or sales associate, a person who books the guest’s requirements for banquets and other special events, might be busy with another function.
If a guest needs an extension cord or an electrical outlet malfunctions, the front desk staff must be ready to meet the guest’s needs.The front of? ce manager should establish standard operating procedures for the front of? ce employees to contact maintenance, house- keeping, marketing and sales, or the food and beverage department to meet other common requests. Knowing how to ? nd a small tool kit, adapters, adhesive materials, extra table covers, or window cleaner will help the guest and will save the time involved in tracking down the salesperson in charge. Housekeeping Department Guestrooms in lodging properties are sold by the front office.The front desk must know at every given moment what rooms have been cleaned and are available for occupancy. Housekeeping must provide the front desk with a listing of rooms that are ready for occupancy so guests can be checked in. If the communication between the two departments is poor or breaks down, delays in guest check in will occur or people will be checked into rooms that are thought to be ready but that in fact are occupied or not ready.
If this happens often, the property’s reputation will suffer. Housekeeping and the front of? ce communicate with each other about ousekeeping room status, the report on the availability of the rooms for immediate guest occupancy. Housekeeping room status can be described in the following communication terms: * Available Clean, or Ready—room is ready to be occupied * Occupied—guest or guests are already occupying a room * Stay over—guest will not be checking out of a room on the current day *Dirty or On-Change—guest has checked out of the room, but the housekeeping staff has not released the room for occupancy * Out-of-Order—room is not available for occupancy because of a mechanical Malfunction Housekeeping and the front of? e also communicate on the details of potential house count (a report of the number of guests registered in the hotel), security concerns, and requests for amenities (personal toiletry items such as shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, and electrical equipment). These issues are of immediate concern to the guest as well as to supervisors in the hotel. Reporting of room status is handled on a face-to-face basis in a hotel that does not use a property management system (PMS). The bihourly or hourly visits of the house- keeper to the front desk clerk are a familiar scene in such a hotel.The official reporting of room status at the end of the day is accomplished with a housekeeper’s room report—a report prepared by the housekeeper that lists the guest room occupancy status as vacant, occupied, or out-of-order.
Sometimes even regular reporting of room status is not adequate, as guests may be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to occupy a room. On these occasions, the front desk clerk will have to telephone the ? oor supervisor to determine when the servicing of a room will be completed.The housekeeper relies on the room sales projections—a weekly report prepared and distributed by the front of? ce manager that indicates the number of departures, arrivals, walk-ins, stay over, and no-shows—to schedule employees. Timely distribution of the room sales projections assists the executive housekeeper in planning employee personal leaves and vacation days. The front desk also relies on housekeeping personnel to report any unusual circumstances that may indicate a violation of security for the guests.For example, if a maid or houseman notices obviously non-registered guests on a ? oor, a ? re exit that has been propped open, or sounds of a domestic disturbance in a guest room, he or she must report these potential security violations to the front of? ce. The front of? ce staff, in turn, will relay the problem to the proper in-house or civil authority.
The front of? ce manager may want to direct the front desk clerks and switchboard operators to call ? oor supervisors on a regular basis to check activity on the guest ? oors.Guest requests for additional or special amenities and guest room supplies may be initiated at the front desk. The prompt relay of requests for extra blankets, towels, soap, and shampoo to housekeeping is essential. This is hospitality at its best. Human Resources Management Department The human resources management department may rely on the front office staff to act as an initial point of contact for potential employees in all departments. It may even ask the front office to screen job candidates. If so, guidelines for and training in screening methods must be provided.
Some directors of human resources management depend on the front office to distribute application forms and other personnel-related information to job applicants. The potential employee may ask for directions to the personnel office at the front desk. The human resources management department may also develop guidelines for the front desk clerk to use in initially screening candidates. For example, the guidelines may include concerns about personal hygiene, completion of an application, education requirements, experience, and citizenship status.This information will help the executives in the human resources management department interview potential job candidates Security Department Communications between the security department and the front office are very important in providing hospitality to the guest. These departments work together very closely in maintaining guest security. Fire safety measures and emergency communication systems as well as procedures for routine investigation of guest security concerns require the cooperation of these departments.
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