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During the stay activities

Guest Handling & Complaints

When guest are not satisfied with some services and express their discontent to hotel employees, most of them to the front office staff, their grievances are recorded as guest complains. When guest find it easy to express their opinion to the staff, both the hotels and the guest benefit. The gets a feedback about its staff and services and can take corrective action, while the guest can have a comfortable stay if his problem is addressed.

Types of guest complaints

  1. Mechanical Complaints: This is related to malfunctioning or non–functioning of system and equipment installed in guest room like television, minibar, thermostat etc.

  2. Attitudinal Complaints: When the guest feels insulted by the rude or tactless hotel staff and lodges a complaint, it is referred to as attitudinal complaint.

  3. Service Related Complaints: Service related complaints are about the problem in service provided by the hotel, like delay in the room service or lunch or delay in the clearance of soiled crockery from the room after meals.

  4. Unusual Complaints: Unusual complains are those over which the hotel does not have a control. E.g. A guest may complain about the lack of golf course in the hotel or lack of central heating facility.

Guest Handling

The front office should handle guest complaints tactfully, exercising patience, empathy and decision– making skills. As hospitality is a service oriented industry the hotel staff should always try to resolve the customer problem immediately which appears him. If a front office agent is unable to handle guest complaints, she should call her supervisor before the situation gets out of control or become worse.

The following guideline may be followed while a guest complains.

  1. Listen silently without interruption, with empathy.

  2. Show concern and take complaints seriously.

  3. Never argue .Remember the guest is always right.

  4. Never try to win an argument– You may win the argument but lose the guest forever.

  5. If, possible isolate the guest so that other guest may not overhear.

  6. Offer choice and never make a false promise.

  7. Monitor the corrective measures

  8. Follow up and inform the guest about the solution.

  9. If unable to resolve the guest problem, consult your supervisor.

Guest History

Managing guest history starts with the sources of information i.e. the guest himself (Data Sources) or his representative such as company or travel agents etc. To begin the flow of information, the hotel must request it and this include all information asked of customer before, during and after their stay and this is a ‘’Data Request’’. Further the information that is actually received is called ‘’Data Received’’. Ones the data is received then it is needed to be stored i.e. kept in files and is called ‘’Data Storage’’. Finally the actual application of guest information for the purpose of enhancing services is called ‘’Data Use’’.

Greater the volume of accurate data more effective the guest history system will be .Service excellence is always the key factor in the success of hotels. This involves remembering frequent guest needs of desires and to be able to provide them even before the guest ask for them. Before the computer age guest information was recorded manually sometimes in register or cards but now with large number of rooms and with increasing labor cost with increasing capacity of not only written records are gone but hotel can no longer rely on their employees to remember frequent guest. Another factor is guest stays now are relatively short and the employees turnover is also very high these days. So it is very essential that each and every detail of guest is recorded.

Room Selling Techniques

Telephone Salesmanship

Since the caller is not directly in contact with the front desk staff and cannot see him it is very important that the person handling the telephone call is able to give a warm and courteous conversation to the caller. The receptionist should not have a tendency to treat such inquiries lightly, and should give his full and undivided attention. The approach of the staff will be instrumental in gaining or losing a potential sale for the hotel. Since the prospective guest is on telephone, the receptionist /reservations agent must be able to communicate to the prospective guest the product or services in such a way that the guest is able to perceive a picture of this product which matches his requirements and is immediately ready to buy it .The person describing the product should be specific while describing the room, for e. g, size, location, furnishing, fixtures etc.

Selling room to prospective guest who is concerned about the prices

A guest who is not ready to pay more but at the same time expecting a superior product is very difficult job, and hence it is very important for the receptionist to picture or describe the product when quoting any rate. The receptionist should not begin with quoting a lower rate and he should offer a range of products with ranging price and should allow the guest to make the selection. Don’t undersell, try upselling, If the receptionist is a good salesman and is able to highlight features and facilities he would always be able to make a higher sales, while up selling be careful that you are not pushing the guest towards a higher rate because if the guest gets a feeling that he has been cheated then although the hotel might get the higher sale but he will not get the repeat business.

Selling during rush hours

Usually hotels have a set pattern of arrivals load for e.g. in case of an airport hotel the load of the guest usually is in the night and there is heavy load of arrivals during night period. The selling ability and skills of a receptionist to an unannounced guest are put to test in such rush hours. His patience with the guest and how calmly and efficient, he is able to deal with such guest is of great importance. In order to be able to attend to unannounced guest efficiently the hotel may open a new and extra arrival registration counters for the heavy check-ins.

An undecided guest

This category guest provides an excellent opportunity to the receptionist to up sell the room. When such a guest arrives without any pre notice it will be easy for the receptionist to convenience him to buy a higher priced room. For such a guest the receptionist should first try to find out why is he in the city. This could provide him lead for promoting certain types of accommodation. Offer the guest a variety of room explaining the features and merits of them. Always promote a higher rate accommodation fist, as it is easier to back down rather than to try selling up.

Hospitality desk

Hospitality desk is located at the entrance of the lobby lounge which is manned by the experience staff to assist the guest without any charges related to any hotel specials and services such as latest dining and room promos, ongoing and upcoming events and many other facilities like advice the various hall where the meetings / sessions are taking place .Arrange luncheons /dinners for the delegates, hotel room booking ,air ticket reconfirmation ,arrange cars, co-ordinate assist the transport schedule, also provide additional information like where to shop native item and delicacies nature and cultural touring and where the special parties are going on.


Message and Mail Handling

Receiving messages for in-house guests in their absence, recording them and communicating them to the guests as soon as possible is an important function of the front desk staff. The efficiency and professionalism of the hotel and the attitude of the staff is reflected by the way this function is carried out by the staff. Usually when a guest goes out of his room he would leave his room key at the counter where the information clerk would put it in the appropriate pigeon hole of his room in the mail and key rack. The guest my leave a filled “Location Form” indicating where he will be for the next few hours.

There are only two ways that a person can contact an in-house guest:

  • In case of a phone call the telephone operator will connect it to the room of the guest. Since the guest is not in the room the call comes back to the operator who connects it to the Information Section of the Front Desk. After checking that the guest has left his key at the desk (as confirmed by the key being in the “Mail and Key Rack”) the telephone call is transferred to the “Message Desk”. The message clerk prepares the message slip in triplicate. It is important to read back the message to the caller and confirm the details before signing off. The top two copies are given to the Information Clerk who puts it the room no on the forms (from the Information Rack). The Top Copy is sent to the room to be slipped under the door. The Second Copy is put in the appropriate room no pigeon hole of the Mail and Key Rack. In addition, for further safety, an “attention card” or a “mail and message advise card” is put on the door knob of the room or “message light” is activated in those hotels which use electronic systems. The message details may also be fed into the computer and the guest may view it on the screen of the T.V. in his room.

  • In case of the visitor coming to the hotel , he is asked to first try the house telephones to contact the guest. When he finds the guest is not in his room he comes to the Information Desk and fills in the message slip in triplicate.

Mail handling procedure is a very important function which the Front Office staff has to handle in a hotel. A receptionist in a hotel has to be very careful that all the mail receives due attention and are attended to without any delay to avoid embarrassment.

There are two types of mail used in a hotel:

Incoming Mail

Various types of mail may be received in a hotel, like mail for Hotel Management and Hotel staff and mail for guests. In addition the mail may be an ordinary mail or registered/recorded mail etc.Staff has to be extra careful about recorded mail. All incoming mail must be Dated and Time Stamped. A proper record of all the recorded mail is kept as per requirement i.e., the entries are made in either registered letter book, parcels book or telegram book etc. No such record is maintained for ordinary mail.

After having date and time marked the mail, it is sorted and classified under 3 main categories:

HOTEL MAIL is identified by the designation of a senior manager of the hotel eg General Manager, Banquet Manager etc. This mail is delivered to the office of the managers concerned.

STAFF MAIL is identified by the presence of the name of employee, designation and department mentioned in the address. This is usually sorted and delivered through the Time Office.

GUEST MAIL is any mail that is left is supposed to be guest mail. Guest Mail may belong to any one of the following categories:

  1. Past Guest Mail: Sometime the hotel receives mail for the guests who have already departed from the hotel after having stayed for some period. The hotel to avoid any embarrassment as to what to do with such mail and how to hand it over to the person quickly, ask the departing guest to leave their forwarding address and for how long they would want their mail to be redirected to that address. A special program called “Mail Forwarding Card” is used for this.

  2. Present Guest Mail: The guest mail is first arranged in alphabetical order and then checked against the information rack to identify the present guests. Wherever applicable the room no is entered in pencil on the letters and then they are put in the appropriate room no pigeon hole in the mail and key rack to be handed to the guests when they come to deposit or collect their keys.

  3. Future Guest Mail: General mail for guests yet to arrive is kept in the back office in pigeon holes marked alphabetically. An indication is made in the reservation record about this awaited mail i.e., in case of Whitney system the words “Awaited Mail” is written on the Whitney slip.

Outgoing Mail

Outgoing mail of the hotel include mail of the hotel and guest. Outgoing Hotel Mail is handled by the individual departments. The various departments have their own secretarial staff who maintain record of all outgoing mail. Large Hotels use Franking Machine for postage. If the volume of mail is high the use of Franking Machine save lot of time. This machine is hired / purchased generally from the Post & Telegram department or any authorized supplying company. This machine stamps on the envelope (or on an adhesive tape) the amount of postage required and the date cancellation mark. Advance payment has to be made to the post office to cover the value of the postage expected to be used.

Besides the outgoing mail of Hotel, the Hotel also provide the service of posting letter etc. for the guest staying at the hotel. Generally the bell desk keeps stamps and letter and parcels scale.


Key Handling

It is the duty and responsibility of the front desk staff to ensure the right guest is given the key to his room and his safety and security pertaining to issuance of key is not compromised or violated during his stay in the hotel. Front Desk Agent should never give keys, room numbers, messages, parcels or mails to any person without first requiring appropriate identification.

For Security reason hotels uses at least three types of keys, Emergency Key, Master key and guest room keys. Types of keys used may vary hotel by hotel but the process of handling them remains pretty much the same.

  •  Emergency Key: A key that can open all doors double locked in hotels, among others like the Guest room door (Guest Room), Door Office(Office), Door Warehouse (Store). This key is usually held by the Management Hotel or GM can use the emergency moment / emergency.

  • Guest Room Key: Key available for use by the guests to open the rooms such as CARD or a special card and some form of regular keys, so-called Key Tag if the child is the key hanger.

  • Master Key: A key that can be used to open the door on one floor / floor or one section area all  single locked. So if the hotel consists of 8 floors / section in the hotel so there will be 8 pieces Master Key.

When Guest Request for room key:

  • Request for Guest’s last name and room number.

  • Cross check the information given against by guest against the reservation details on the hotel software.

  • If there any mismatch is the details provided then request for any valid photo identification like passport, Driving license, government ID cards etc.

  • Do not handover the room keys without proper authentication of the guest identity.

  • If no picture identification is available by the guests, the Front office assistant must accompany the guests to the room to confirm the identity. When being challenged by our actions, we are to inform the guest:

“We are doing this for your security and safety. We appreciate your understanding.”

  • Only in an emergency situation can we use the information on the guest passport number, date of birth, address given to the hotel on arrival etc. to ascertain against computer’s record.

  • When in doubt with the identity and guest refused to be escorted to room, inform the Front office manager immediately.

If the Lobby Manager or Front Office Manager – Front Office could recognize the guest, give the duplicate key to the guest while reinforcing politely why we need to perform the identity check. Keys must never be issued to persons claiming to have the guest’s permission to enter the room unless the guest has personally given his /her verbal or written authorization to the Front Office team.

Room numbers should not be written on the keys in case keys are misplaced. A set of codes are encoded to differentiate keys being held by guests.


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