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Handling Group Check-in | Hotel Front Office SOP

From time to time, hotels get tourist groups. Group check-ins should be handled different to individual check ins. Front Office staff must be trained on handling group check-ins to avoid unnecessary delays and frustrations.

In this article, Samkeliso Nkwanyane, our Hospitality Coach, Speaker and Consultant will unpack the procedures front desk staff must follow to allow a smooth, hassle-free group check-in.  

We will look at the following:

  • Preparation for arrival
    • Preparation of documentation
    • Interdepartmental communication
    • Special requests


  • Check-in process
    • Registration
    • Guest arrival

Preparation for Arrival

Being familiar with hotel procedures and being able to identify customer needs facilitates efficient work practices and promotes guest satisfaction.

Consider the following when handling group arrivals:

  • By looking up guests that are expected to check in, one can familiarise oneself with guest names and the number of arrivals to expect.  If one expects a large number of arrivals, one can organise additional assistance (receptionists, porters, managers etc) in advance.
  • Group check-in should be handled separately from individual check-ins. It is useful to have a member of management available to assist.
  • A rooming list must be provided by the organizer/ tour company prior to arrival. This must be done a month prior to arrival so that rooms can be allocated in time.
  • Tour groups usually arrive in buses/ coaches, so enough parking must be reserved for them.
  • Interdepartmental communication is important to ensure that guests are not inconvenienced. E.g. Food and beverage department needs to know so that they can plan properly.


Preparation of documentation

Preparing Guest documentation before the arrival of guests ensures that:

  • The number of guest arrivals are known. This ensures personalised treatment and guest satisfaction.
  • Special requirements can be actioned and communicated to the various departments to ensure guest satisfaction.
  • Errors can be picked up in advance and sorted out so that the guest is given correct documentation at the time of arrival.
  • When the guest arrives at the Reception the check-in process is quick and professional.
  • Time wastage is minimised and the guest is not kept waiting.  This creates the impression that the organisation is efficient and professional.


Special requirements

  • Preparation helps plan for the special requests / requirements of guests as well as of the hotel.  For example, guests with disabilities may need rooms outfitted to their special needs. Usually the tour leader would mention which guests will be sharing with whom.


  • While many of the details surrounding special requests can be handled during preparation, it is important for the front office to follow up on each request.


  • Guests are quickly disappointed if, upon arrival at their room, they find that the establishment did not honour their requests.  Receptionists should mention the guest's special requests at check-in to make sure that the establishment has provided what the guest requested.  In this way, guests are better assured that their requests have been met.


  • Other requests may include, separate beds (twin), smoking/ non-smoking rooms, connecting rooms, family rooms, rooms with special views, certain room types, etc.


Check-in process

  • Always designate a Group Coordinator from the Front Desk prior to arrival.
  • Liaise constantly with the sales & marketing or Front Office Manager for information.
  • Check that Arrival Registration cards have been prepared for the group along with the rooming list for signature.
  • Check all relevant correspondence has been read and briefed during the staff briefing.
  • Check Group Billing instructions and cross check the billing instructions entered in the PMS.
  • Once priority group rooms have been allocated, cut rooms keys for arrival.
  • If the group is arriving at one time, then all rooms must be allocated and all keys cut.
  • The number of keys must match the number of rooms booked by the group.
  • Insert key tag into key card jacket and place on the lobby table along with the rooming list.
  • Print traces report for Front office and read the instructions given.


Choose an appropriate group check in area according to the following:

  • Size of the group
  • Transport to the lodge
  • Time of check in
  • Registration cards along with keys should be kept in alphabetical order.
  • Sufficient stationary / pens must be kept ready for guests to sign their registration cards.
  • Welcome drinks and refreshing towels should be prepared so they may be served on arrival. And accurate number of drinks to be pre-ordered.
  • The Foyer Attendant must be kept informed of the group arrival time and the following needs should be coordinated:
  • Luggage tags are ready.
  • Luggage delivery plan is organized.
  • Their duty roster has been prepared taking into consideration the group’s size and arrival time.
  • All changes with the group arrival time check in area and group size to be given to the Front Desk.
  • Collect wake up call for the group from the tour leader.


Group check-ins are have to be handled with care. Sometimes within the group, you will have to attend to certain guests with special needs:

Guests with communication difficulties

If someone is having difficulty understanding the language, speak slowly and clearly. Use your hands to explain what you are trying to say. If necessary, draw pictures. If there is someone in the establishment that can speak the guest's language, request the assistance of that person.

Guests with mobility difficulties

  • If the person wishing to check in is in a wheelchair, it is preferable for the Receptionist to go around the desk, and attend to the guest from a position that is more comfortable to the guest.
  • Inform switchboard so if the customer has any difficulty this can be dealt with as quickly as possible.


Guests travelling with children

  • It is important to accommodate the needs of children, and this adds to the positive experience enjoyed by the parents.
  • Greet children, and make them feel special.
  • Offer baby cots, and promote babysitting facilities if you have them.
  • Inform the restaurant if a high chair will be needed.


Fun fact: Giving the tour leader a nice room (with a view) will encourage them to book more. LOL


Are you working in the front office department? Where are you based? Did you find this article helpful? We would like to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.


Kindest Regards,


Sam Nkwanyane

Hospitality Coach • Speaker • Consultant