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Hotel Front Office Responsibilities | SOP

guest checking in at a hotel front desk

The front office department is the nerve centre of every hotel. Regardless of the size, each hotel relies on the front office department to efficiently run its operations.


This department is at the core of every hotel operations. The primary responsibilities of front office include:

  • Taking guests reservations
  • Co-ordinating with various departments prior to guests’ arrival
  • Dealing with guests check-ins and check-outs
  • Handling financial transactions
  • Handling guests’ complaints and requests


Personal requirements for working in hotel front office

In order for you to succeed in the front office, you need to have the following requirements:

  • Be friendly, courteous and helpful at all times.
  • Be able to assist guests with minimum English.
  • Be an excellent communicator.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to multitask


Taking guests reservations

This is probably the most critical stage. When dealing with reservations whether over the telephone or on email or in person, it is very important to take the correct information. Hotels use a property management system (PMS) to manage reservations.


Hotel Property Management (PMS) Systems

Here are a few property management systems (PMS) you may find in hotels:

  • Preno - The best hotel PMS system in 2022 is Preno, a capable hotel management software that allows accommodation providers and hotels to streamline their operations through an easy-to-use interface. For better operations, Preno allows the merging of back- and front-office operators for a much-improved flow of information.


  • Cloudbeds – Cloudbeds makes advanced hospitality software for independent properties that manages guests and reservations, distributes room availability, sells inventory, and collects payments. The award-winning software is trusted by thousands of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and groups in more than 120 countries. It simplifies the complicated world of OTAs, payments, reservations, and reporting so our clients can spend time on their most important job, taking care of their guests. It enables properties to compete alongside the biggest brands in hospitality, no matter their size.


  • Oracle Hospitality Opera PMS - a comprehensive hotel management software solution from the leading software provider. It offers comprehensive end-to-end hospitality management solutions that go above and beyond the usual accommodation set of features. Aside from property management tools, it also has modules for kitchen management, fleet management, hotel food and beverage, and even catering management.


  • RezOvation - A property management solution targeted at bed and breakfasts, hotels, and inns. Key features include reservation management, front desk management, guest management, and marketing management. Moreover, it also provides reporting and accounting solutions. With the platform, users will be able to have a 360-degree view of their operations and manage processes with just a few clicks of a mouse.


Like other RezOvation alternatives, it provides online booking and credit card processing capabilities. Moreover, it also gives users access to its native mobile applications on its website. Also, the software integrates with third-party platforms, including BedandBreakfast.com, InnPayment, and HomeAway. Lastly, RezOvation is only available via quote-based plans.


  • Little Hotelier - A hotel PMS solution for smaller establishments. These include guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and small hotels. This, however, doesn’t mean that it has a smaller set of features. On the contrary, it provides a suite of end-to-end features for managing the front office, guest experience, reservations, and marketing. It also comes with a website builder in tow. Moreover, it has multi-property management capabilities.


  • ResNexus - A property and reservation management solution for hotels. It offers a comprehensive set of features that can help users to manage different types of properties and services aside from the usual check-in/out of guests. These include conference bookings, hotel upgrades, and red carpet services. Of course, it has the basic PMS features. These include online reservations, payments, rental property management, hospitality management, guest management, group reservations, guest history, and invoices.


Furthermore, the software provides tools for invoicing and marketing. Also, it is known for its intuitive analytics and accounting tools. Moreover, the platform integrates with other business solutions such as Google Analytics, QuickBooks, and Cloudbeds. Also, it provides other hardware tools, such as its ResNexus Wi-Fi Smart Locks. Hence, it offers more holistic PMS hotel products and services.


  • Guesty - A specialized property management software for vacation rental and Airbnb managers. The software provides them with tools for reporting, channel management, and automating workflows. Hence, it is prized by its users for helping them streamline their workflows and optimize their processes. Guesty also has multi-location management capability and supports different business types such as glamping and urban rentals.


Other features include a branded booking website, extended stays management, multi-calendar, and an owner’s portal. Furthermore, it has accounting solutions such as analytics and revenue management. And, you can access these PMS system hotel features via its mobile app.


Also, what’s unique is that Guesty provides users with 24/7 guest communication services on your behalf. So, it’ll be just like having a dedicated team of customer service representatives of your own. Furthermore, Guesty offers an Open API. Thus, users can handily configure it to work with their current systems. Also, as the Guesty platform is deployed according to your needs, it is only available via a personalized quote-based subscription plan.


  • RMS Hospitality Cloud - A web-based property management solution trusted by many hospitality businesses. It provides solutions not only to hotels and resorts but also other types of properties, including lifestyle villages and campgrounds. Its users include popular brands such as Ascott, Cheval Collection, and Discovery Parks, among others. The platform’s key features include a channel manager, brandable booking touchpoints, payments support, reservation management, and invoicing, reporting, billing, and front-of-house management.


Furthermore, the platform integrates with other third-party solutions, thanks to its open API. Lastly, as it is deployed according to your needs, the RMS Hospitality Cloud is only available via quote-based plans.


Taking Reservations over the Telephone

As a front office representative, part of your job is to take reservations via the telephone. Here are important tips to remember:

  • Always answer the telephone within 3 rings and with a smile – the caller can hear your smile.
  • Always answer the telephone in a polite and friendly manner.
  • Answer with a greeting, “Good Morning, thank you for calling ABC Hotel, my name is Sam, How may I assist you?” Always use ‘MAY I’ and not ‘CAN I’.
  • If the caller asks about room availability, ask for dates and room type.
  • Explain different room types and rates. Inform the caller of facilities and amenities (features) in each room type and explain how the caller will benefit from each room type (benefits). For example:   "I can offer you a family room with a sea-view (feature). It has a king size bed and two single sleeper couches (feature), so you will have the children in the same room as you (benefit), if they are small. Alternatively, I have two double inter-leading rooms (feature) on the ground floor facing the garden (feature). One has a king size bed and the other has two single beds (feature). Perhaps you will find that more comfortable (benefit)."
  • Inform the caller of any special offers that apply.
  • Check availability on the PMS and proceed with the reservation.
  • Memorize the English phonetic alphabet as shown below. This will help you to take the correct spelling:


English Phonetic Alphabet

In hotel front office, it is important to memorize the following English Phonetic Alphabet at you will need it in taking the correct spelling, especially on the phone:

  • A             -              Alpha
  • B             -              Bravo
  • C             -              Charlie
  • D             -              Delta
  • E              -              Echo
  • F              -              Foxtrot
  • G             -              Golf
  • H             -              Hotel
  • I               -              India
  • J              -              Juliet
  • K             -              Kilo
  • L              -              Lima
  • M            -              Mike
  • N             -              November
  • O             -              Oscar
  • P             -              Papa
  • Q             -              Quebec
  • R             -              Romeo
  • S              -              Sierra
  • T              -              Tango
  • U             -              Uniform
  • V             -              Victor
  • W            -              Whiskey
  • X             -              X-ray
  • Y              -              Yankee
  • Z              -              Zulu


Face to face bookings

When a guest/visitor approaches the desk, proceed as follows:

  • Look up immediately, make eye contact and smile.
  • Greet the guest and offer assistance:  "Good morning, Sir / Ma'am. How may I help you."
  • If one is busy attending to another guest, proceed as follows:
  • Look up immediately, make eye contact and smile.
  • Tell the guest that he/she will be attended to in a moment.
  • When finished what has to be done, apologise for the delay:  "I am sorry to have kept you waiting, Sir / Ma'am. How may I help you?" OR "Thank You for your patience, Sir / Ma'am. How may I help you?"
  • If one is on the telephone at the time, proceed as follows:
  • Look up immediately, make eye contact and smile.
  • Indicate with your hand that you will be with the guest once you have finished.
  • When you finished the call, apologise for the delay as described above.
  • Ensure that the relevant information is available to handle the enquiry. This includes:
  • Brochures
  • Rates cards
  • Current and future special offers
  • Explain the different room types, as well as rates applicable to each room type, and specials applicable to longer stays or stays over certain nights of the week.  Ascertain availability using the procedure described above.
  • Offer to show the enquirer around the hotel - or to have a Manager or the Public Relations Officer do so if you cannot do so personally.
  • If the required room type is available, offer to make a reservation.    If the enquirer is not ready to make a reservation, offer to send him/her a brochure.  Thank the guest for the enquiry and wish him/ her a pleasant day.


Preparing for Guest Arrivals/ Departures

Guest’s Needs

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


Consider the following when handling guest 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.
  • Finish one check in  before moving onto another
  • If guests are queuing, it is useful to have a member of management available to talk to them.


Preparation of Guest 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.


Backup on Registration Card

All correspondence relating to the reservation can be attached to the registration card to ensure accurate details on check in, for example: Voucher faxed through from travel agent to confirm the payment of the account.


This can be prepared by the receptionists the day before the customer's arrival or by the night audit team.


All the prepared documentation is placed on the reception desk awaiting the arrival of the guests the following day.


It can be arranged alphabetically to ensure quick service.


Special Requests

Preparation helps plan for the special requests / requirements of guests as well as of the hotel.  For example, frequent guests may have a special room they enjoy at the establishment and guests with disabilities may need rooms outfitted to their special needs.


By preparing for these guests, the receptionists can be sure to satisfy them or can notify the department responsible for the request.


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 special requests may be:

  • Location and view from room
  • Bed type
  • Smoking / Non-smoking status
  • Amenities
  • Special furnishings for disabled guests
  • Connecting rooms
  • Special arrangements
  • Cot


Interdepartmental Communication

It is vital that the other departments are kept informed of the arrivals and special requests of guests they can be prepared to deal with the guests efficiently.  This also improves teamwork between departments.


Many hotels and resorts have a system whereby all special requests are communicated to all other departments.  There are various methods that could be utilised, for example, a VIP report, E-mail communication etc.


This report is prepared at night or on the morning of the arrival of the Guest.  It is then communicated to all departments and actioned accordingly.  If any of the departments do not action the request, for example, switchboard is not informed of a wake-up call, the organisation will be seen as unprofessional and this will lead to a guest complaint or loss of business.


Guest Check-in Process

Registration at the front desk is normally the first face-to-face contact the guest makes with the establishment.  Not only does this function contribute significantly to the basic information the establishment needs to monitor its business, but it also serves to establish the front desk as the focal point for guest services.


Although the registration process is assumed to be essential to the creation of a legal customer-establishment relationship, in reality it actually satisfies many more diverse purposes.


This process is primarily concerned with:

  • Capturing the customer's personal details
  • Satisfying the customer's room and rate requirements, and
  • Generating a registration record of the transaction.
  • The registration process begins when a guest arrives at the establishment and terminates when the guest has completed the registration record and been assigned a room.


Types of Guests

Registration procedures are usually different for customers with reservations and walk ins. 

The guest with a reservation simplifies the registration process.  The hotel normally collects the required customer details on the reservation created at the time of reservation, thereby making the registration information appear to be a repeat of the detail previously recorded. 


Often both a room type and rate are assigned as a pre-registration activity for the customers with reservations.


The walk in customer will take the longest time to complete the registration process, because the establishment is incapable of performing any pre-registration activity for this customer.  For the walk in customer it is mandatory that the establishment's check in procedures be as uncomplicated as possible.


The registration card must be created at the reception desk, as opposed to being prepared in advance by the reservations department.  Hence, the registration process is essential to the operation of the Front Office, because it enables a room and rate for each customer and provides necessary information that might not be gotten elsewhere.


Registration Objectives

The objectives of a registration system are:

  • To provide the establishment with important customer information.
  • To enable a room and rate assignment for every customer, and
  • To provide the establishment with an expected departure date for each customer

There are five important concepts involved in a registration process:

  • Collection - The establishment captures information pertaining to a customers needs, expected departure, method of payment, and personal data during the registration process.
  • Assignment - The assignment of a room type and rate are made at the time of reservation or registration
  • Credit - The establishment is able to determine credit allowances to its customers based on the anticipated method of payment and the establishment's house limits and policies
  • Planning - The establishment attempts to maximise its occupancy through a knowledge of room availabilities, the date of departure specified by the guest surely impacts on the establishment's ability to match its supply of rooms with its demand for rooms
  • Flow - Registration regulates and controls the allocation of rooms and rates for all customers of the establishment.


Guests Arrival

Acknowledging and Greeting Guests

  • Politeness, helpfulness and friendliness are important when greeting any guest.
  • Always show a keen interest in all guests, greeting them by name if possible.
  • No guest should be left to stand around without being greeted and attended to promptly.  This is particularly important when guests appear to be unsure of whether they are in the right place.
  • According to the time of day you would first greet the guest:
  • "Good __________(morning / afternoon / evening) Sir / Madam."
  • Never interrupt a guest when they are speaking
  • Always keep a smile on your face.
  • Never say "Hi" or "Hello" - an element of formality is expected.
  • Never call a guest by his / her first name unless invited to do so.
  • Always greet a guest before he / she greets you – this includes internal guests (colleagues). Do not get into a “competition” about who should greet whom first.
  • Never give a guest incorrect information, inform the guest that you are not sure but you will come back to them.
  • Guests with mobility difficulties (e.g. in wheelchairs) must be greeted as you would any other guest. Make sure you make eye contact with them, as they are very sensitive to people’s reactions to their disabilities.
  • Never interrupt guests with communication difficulties. If you do not understand their language, assist by trying to find a person who can speak the language of the guests. Alternatively use hand gestures, as most people understand these. If a guest has a hearing problem, make sure that you speak slowly and clearly, and that the guest can see your face when you are speaking.
  • Guests always feel especially welcome if you make the effort to greet them in their own language – even if they are the only words you know in that language. If possible, greet the guest in his/her own language. If you hear the guest speaking a local language, and you are able to communicate in this language, ask which language they would prefer to speak.


Manners and Body Language

  • Politeness, courtesy, helpfulness and friendliness are important when dealing with guests at all times.
  • Your body language is vitally important – be careful not to reflect any negative feelings you may be experiencing. Always be relaxed and show a keen interest in all your guests.
  • At the beginning of any face-to-face interaction with a guest, stop what you are doing, make eye contact and smile.


Anticipating and acting upon Guest's Needs and Requirements

You can always tell if a guest is approaching you for assistance, and you can make it easier for the guest to request assistance by offering it before he/she asks.

If a guest looks lost or as though he/she is looking for something or someone, approach them as follows:

  • “Good morning, Sir/Ma’am. How may I help you?”
  • Always observe what is happening around you and respond to signals guests give relating to their needs.
  • There may be times when you cannot attend to a guest immediately, such as when you are busy with another guest. At such times, it is important to acknowledge the guest. Say something like:
  • “Good evening, Ma’am, I will be with you in a moment.”
  • When you are able to attend to the waiting guest, apologise for the delay.
  • Always ask the customer questions until you are clear exactly what the requirements are.
  • Note: Customers lose patience when computers are inoperative or employees don't seem to know what they are doing.  Travel puts guests in a fragile mood and it is up to you to handle registration pleasantly, efficiently and fast.


Promoting Hotel Products and Services

  • Take every possible opportunity to promote your hotel’s own facilities and services.
  • The more information the guest has about the products and services of the establishment, the more use he or she is likely to make of them. By increasing guests’ awareness of our products and services, we are creating increased sales.
  • By promoting the products and services of the establishment, you are also in a position to obtain feedback about the products and services that guests are most likely to use. This information can then be passed on to the relevant department head.
  • If a guest asks for information about restaurants, bars, foreign exchange transactions or any other services which the establishment can accommodate, always give information about the establishment’s facilities and services first.
  • When describing the establishment’s products and services, it is useful to explain the “features” and “benefits” of the product or service.
  • A “feature” is some characteristic of the product. For example, a “feature” of the restaurant is that it has an a la carte menu.
  • A “benefit” is something that the guest will get out of using the product. For example, a benefit of taking a family room rather than two double rooms is that the children and parents will be together, but will still have some privacy.
  • Only if the establishment’s facilities and services do not meet the guest’s needs should you provide information about outside facilities and services.


Guests without Advance Reservations

  • Step# 1 - When the guest approaches the desk, look up, smile and say:
  • "Good morning, Sir/Ma'am. Welcome to ______. How may I help you?"
  • If you know the guest's name, use it.
  • Note: Ensure you know the availability before the Customer approaches the reception desk.
  • Step#2 - When the guest requests accommodation, do the following:
  • Ask the guest what type of room is required, and for how long.
  • Quote the rate for the room. Quote special offers and promotions if applicable.
  • Step#3 - Ask the guest is he / she wishes to go ahead and check in. Ask if the guest has stayed in the establishment before – at the Guest History prompt, do a search. Enter the guest details and confirm if they are still the same.
  • Step#4 – Print and give the guest the registration card and a pen, and ask him/her to sign and check the details.
  • Step#5 - Ask if the guest requires a wake-up call, if no automatic wake up service is available.
  • Step#6 – Collect payment from the guest
  • Step#7 - Ask if the guest would like a newspaper.


A good knowledge of the services and facilities available enables you to provide accurate information to guests. This enables them to make informed decisions about how they spend their money in the establishment. It also gives them a clear idea of what to expect of their stay in the establishment.

  • Provide information about the following facilities and services, and the features and benefits thereof:
  • Sports and other leisure facilities
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Room Service
  • Check-out time
  • Step# 8 - Hand the guest the key/ key card to the room, and give directions on how to find it.  Ensure that the room number is not mentioned to ensure confidentiality.
  • Step# 9 - Ask if the guest requires any assistance with his / her luggage and arrange a Porter if necessary.  End by saying:

"Enjoy your stay with us. Please let us know if we can do anything to make you more comfortable."

  • Step# 10 - Unexpected arrivals impact on Housekeeping, the Kitchen and the Restaurant, so they need to be informed so that they can accommodate these guests into their plan for the day.


  • Inform Housekeeping of any requirements such as extra beds, cots, towels, etc.


Note: If the desk is very busy, it is permissible to check availability on the computer, and have the guest complete and sign a blank registration card. The details may then be entered on the computer once you have the time and checked by the Duty Manager before the end of your shift.      


Guests with Advance Reservations

Below are procedures for checking in a guest with a reservation:

  • Step# 1 - Greet the guest according to the hotel standard.
  • Step# 2 - Once you have established that the guest wishes to check in, welcome the guest to the establishment and ask for the guest's name. If it is a returning guest you will welcome them back.
  • Step# 3 - Reconfirm if the guest requires a smoking or non-smoking room.
  • Step# 4 - Hand the guest the registration card and a pen, and ask him/her to check the details and sign in the required spaces. Mark these spaces with a cross (X) – this is any shaded area on the registration card.
  • Step# 5 – Ask if the guest would like a wake-up call
  • Step# 6 - If the guest will be paying by credit card, request the card and obtain authorisation according to the procedure described under "Credit Card Authorisation"
  • Step# 7 - If the guest will be paying cash proceed according to the procedure described under "Method of Payment"
  • Step# 8 - If the account has been set up for a direct bill it is not necessary to request a deposit.
  • Step# 9 - Ask if the guest would like a newspaper.
  • Step# 10 - Provide information about the following facilities and services:
  • Sports facilities
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Room Service
  • Check-out time
  • Step# 11 - If it is a family checking in with children, check to see that extra beds are noted on the computer screen. If not, ask whether they would like an extra bed or baby cot, and relay this information to Housekeeping for action.
  • Step# 12 - Hand the guest the key card and key. Provide directions on how to find the room. Ensure that the room number is not mentioned to ensure confidentiality.
  • Step# 13 - Ask if the guest requires any assistance with his/her luggage and arrange a Porter if necessary.
  • Step# 14 - End by saying: "Enjoy your stay with us. Please let us know if we can do anything to make you more comfortable."


Special Circumstances

From time to time, you will encounter special circumstances as shown below:


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.


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 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.


Regular Customers / VIPs

  • If the guest is a regular, do not request that he/she complete the entire registration card. Simply ask him/her to sign and inform you of the method of payment.
  • Check that the details provided by the guest history are still correct.


Importance of Accuracy

It is important to ensure that registration documentation is correctly completed by the customer for the following reasons:

  • The hotel is legally obliged to obtain certain information from the customer, and failure to do so is a breach of the law.  If we do not obtain the information at the time that the customer is checking in, and something happens to the customer, the establishment will not know whom to contact.  It is a legal requirement that accurate registration records are kept for the police - in case they require the information.
  • Also, if the registration documentation is inaccurately completed, there is the possibility that the customer will be in personal danger if he / she cannot be found in the event of an emergency.


Methods of Payment

Regardless of whether the customer intends to pay by cash, credit card, cheque or any other acceptable method, the establishment should take precautionary measures to ensure payment.  The establishment of proper settlement or credit authorisation at the time of registration will greatly reduce the potential for unauthorised settlement, customer dissatisfaction and subsequent collection problems.


Accepting credit cards

Credit card fraud through counterfeiting, theft, alteration, skimming etc. is becoming more and more prevalent in the hospitality industry and establishments are seen as soft targets for the processing of “illegal” credit card transactions.  All credit cards have a number of security features, which, if checked thoroughly, could minimise credit card losses and bank bill-backs.


In order to avoid the possibility of bill-backs by the credit card companies, it is imperative that the physical card is presented at the establishment and that any vouchers, Point of sale printouts, zip-zap vouchers etc (i.e. the sales vouchers) are signed by the lawful owner of the card.


Presence of credit card

If credit card details are provided over the phone or via the fax in order to guarantee a reservation etc. it is important that when the guest arrives at the establishment he/she is requested to present his/her card. 


If a transaction is processed without the physical card being present the establishment will be held liable for any bill-backs from the banks.


The card must then be checked as per the security feature checking below.

What is your establishment's procedure with regards to a customer not holding the physical credit card? 


Checking security features for VISA and Master Card


VISA and Master Card

  • Compare account numbers
  • The card number embossed on the front of the card must be exactly the same as the 16 (sixteen) digit account number printed on the signature panel, printed on the sales voucher or displayed on the terminal (if equipment allows).  This check would allow for the verification that the magnetic strip on the back of the card has not been altered or tampered with.
  • Take an imprint of the card for manual transactions
  • In the case of a card being damaged and the credit card number has to be manually loaded on the Point of sale machine it is important to take an imprint of the credit card on a voucher via the “zip zap” machine or at the bottom of the sales voucher.  This will prove that the credit card was present at the time of the transaction.


Check the account number

  • All VISA account numbers begin with a 4 (four) and all MasterCard account numbers begin with a 5 (five).  The embossing should be clear and uniform in size and spacing.


Verify the printed number

  • A four-digit number may be pre-printed on the card.  It must match the first four digits of the embossed account number.


Check the validity date

  • The validity (valid) date lists the last date on which the card is valid.  Some cards may have an effective date as well.  Always ensure that the card is within the validity period.


Check the security character

  • MasterCard cards have a stylised “MC” and VISA a stylised “V” (“flying V”) on the line next to the valid dates.


Check the hologram

  • A hologram with interlocking globes showing the continents (MasterCard) and dove (VISA) should appear three-dimensional and move when the card is tilted.  The word MasterCard will appear in the background of the hologram (MasterCard) and the letters “MC” are micro engraved around the two rings (MasterCard).  The last grouping of embossed digits (four in number) should extend into the hologram.


Check the signature

  • Credit cards are not valid until the signature panel has been signed.
  • The signature on the back of the card should reasonably compare with the signature on the sales voucher.  Further verification can be obtained by comparison with the signature on a valid passport.
  • Check the signature panel (on the back of the card)
  • The word “MasterCard” is printed in multi-colours at a 45° angle on a tamper-evident signature panel (MasterCard).  Valid signature panels are printed with the word VISA repeated in colour at an angle (VISA).  The 16 (sixteen) digit account number indent printed in reverse italics on the signature panel is followed by a 3 (three) digit card validation code (CVC).  Run your finger over the signature panel.  The entire surface should be smooth with no raised edges.  If it has been tampered with or replaced, the card must not be accepted.


Record the CVC number on the sales voucher

  • Record the card validation code (three-digit authorisation code appearing on the back of the card, on the signature strip, after the account number). This will prove that the card was present at the time of the sales transaction.


Checking security features for American Express and Diners Club cards

american express card

Compare account numbers

  • The card number embossed on the front of the card must be exactly the same as the 15 (fifteen) digit (Amex) or 16 (sixteen) digit (Diners) account number printed below the signature panel, printed on the sales voucher or displayed on the terminal (if equipment allows).
  • This check would allow for the verification that the magnetic strip on the back of the card has not been altered or tampered with. Digits 3 (three) and 4 (four) of the account number represent the country of origin i.e. 68 (six eight) indicates that it is a South African card (Amex); for Diners Club the number “39” (thirty-nine) indicates the card is South African.
  • Take an imprint of the card for manual transactions
  • In the case of a card being damaged and the credit card number has to be manually loaded on the Point of sale machine it is important to take an imprint of the credit card on a voucher via the “zip zap” machine or at the bottom of the sales slip.  This will prove that the credit card was present at the time of the transaction.
  • Ensure that the batch code number is printed on the card
  • A four-digit batch code on the right hand side above the last embossed digits of the card number must be printed on the card (Amex).


Check the validity date

  • The validity (valid) date lists the last date on which the card is valid.  Some cards may have an effective date as well.  Always ensure that the card is within the validity period.


Check the colour and printing of the card

  • The colour and printing of the card should be precisely the same as the information posters in your establishment (Amex), the Diners card having wavy lines across the face of the card. On the reverse of the Diners card a three dimensional hologram of their logo should be in the bottom, left-hand corner.  To the right of this is an embossment “DC YS” preceded by a number; e.g.,88 DC YS :  the “YS” denotes South Africa and “88 DC” indicates that the cardholder has been a member since 1988.


Verify authenticity of card by using a ultraviolet light

  • Under ultraviolet light, a genuine American Express Card shows the Centurion image and the letters AMEX across the card (Amex).


Check the name

  • Credit cards are not valid until the signature panel has been signed. The signature on the back of the card should reasonably compare with the signature on the sales voucher.  Further verification could be obtained by comparison with the signature on a valid identification document or passport.


Check the signature panel (on the back of the card)

  • Run your finger over the signature panel.  The entire surface should be smooth with no raised edges.  If it has been tampered with or replaced, the card must not be accepted.


Check the authenticity of the logo

  • Check that the American Express logo matches the one on your point-of-sale material such as door decals etc.  Compare the colour, check that the small ® registration mark on the left-hand side of the logo is clear, and make sure the word “Cards” appears immediately to the right of the logo (Amex).  The Diners Club card should have an embossed emblem in the bottom right-hand corner on the face of the card.


Check the micro printing on the card

  • Ensure that the micro printing on the card is clear.


Compare the look of the card

  • Compare the look of the card to those illustrated on the credit card information posters in your establishment.


Check point-of-sale voucher

  • The card number printed on the electronic point-of-sale voucher must always match the number embossed on the face of the card.  If the magnetic strip on the card has been damaged or tampered with, a call for authorisation must be made.


Common procedures to all cards


Code “10” authorisation

  • If you are in any doubt regarding the authenticity of the card call your authorisation centre immediately and ask for a “Code 10”. 
  • In situations where you believe you have a counterfeit or altered card, the presenter (holder) or transaction appears suspicious, the signatures do not match, or the account number on the sales voucher differs from that on the card a “Code 10” authorisation should be requested. 


Obtaining Card Pre-Authorization


Obtaining pre-authorisation

  • For guests who have indicated that they will be settling their account by means of a credit card, the credit card must be requested from the guest, who must be advised that a pre authorisation of the expected total cost of the stay will be requested.


  • The card should be swiped through the Point of sale machine using the pre-authorisation function and a valid authorisation number must be obtained.  The guest should be requested to sign the pre-authorisation sales voucher and the security checks should be undertaken.


  • When the guest checks out of the establishment and settles the account with his credit card the Point of sale machine will prompt whether an authorisation number was obtained.  If the original and valid authorisation number is put into the machine, the funds blocked in terms of the pre-authorisation will be released and the transaction will be processed as per normal.


  • An imprint of the card is to be taken and retained.


Simple procedures to avoid bill-backs

  • Obtain a card imprint (zip zap machine) on a manual face-to-face transaction when the magnetic strip cannot be read or the computers are off line.



  • If you are unable to magnetically swipe the card you should manually imprint the card – for your own protection.
  • Obtain an authorisation for all transactions over your floor limit (when your electronic device does not provide you with one.
  • The cardholder must always sign the sales voucher and pre-authorisation voucher.
  • Always compare the signature on the sales voucher to that on the reverse of the card.
  • Provide copies of the sales vouchers within the retrieval request time-frames.  Do not delay, always return copies of sales vouchers promptly.
  • To avoid bill-backs you have to adhere to the rules and regulations as set out in your establishment’s merchant agreement.


Cash Payments

  • The total amount of accommodation must be pre-paid on check-in. This should include an amount for extras. (Each establishment should have a method of calculating this, based on averages at their particular property.)


Settlement by Company

  • Any guest wishing to have their account sent back to their company for payment must have pre-approved credit facilities.
  • Prior to arrival, ensure that the reservation was made by a company by means of a fax or by an individual in writing on an original order form.  If not, request the original company order form from the guest on arrival.
  • If a guest checks in prior to approval being given, request a deposit of either cash or a credit card imprint from the guest to cover one night’s accommodation.  Explain to the guest that this is company policy until new credit applications have been approved.


Front Office Terminology

Here are a few terminologies that you must be familiar about in any hotel front office:

  • ARR – Average room (rack) rate. Total room revenue / Total rooms sold.
  • ADR – Average daily rate. Total room revenue / Total rooms sold.
  • AGR – Average rate per guest. Total room revenue / Total number of guests.
  • APR – Average guest per room. Total number of guests / Total rooms sold.
  • Access time – the amount of time required for a processor to retrieve information from the hard drive; recorded in milliseconds.
  • Account payable – Financial obligations the hotel owes to private and government-related agencies and vendors.
  • Account receivable – Amount of money owed to the hotel by guests.
  • Aging of account – Indication of the stage of the payment cycle such as 10 days old, 30 days overdue, 60 days overdue.
  • All-suite – A level of service provided by a hotel for a guest who will desire an at home atmosphere.
  • Amenities – Personal toiletry items such as shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, mouthwash and electrical equipment.
  • American plan – A room rate that includes meals, usually breakfast and evening meal as well as room rental in the room rate.
  • Assets – Items that have monetary value.
  • Atrium concept – A design in which guest rooms overlook the lobby from the first floor to the roof.
  • Average Daily Rate (ADR) – A measure of the hotel staff’s ability to sell available room rates; the method to compute the ADR is :Room revenue / number of rooms sold.
  • Balance sheet – An official financial listing of assets, liabilities and owner’s equity.
  • Bank card – credit cards issued by banks, examples of which include Visa, MasterCard, JCB.
  • Banquet sheet – a listing of the details of an event at which food and beverage are served.
  • Bill-to-account – An extension of credit to a guest by an individual hotel that requires the guest or the guest’s employer to establish a line of credit and to adhere to a regular payment schedule.
  • Biometrics – An individual electronic measurement of uniqueness of human being such as voice, hand print or facial characteristics.
  • Blackout – Total loss of electricity.
  • Blocking on the horizon – Reserving guest rooms in the distant future.
  • Blocking procedure – Process of reserving a room on a specific day.
  • Bottom up – A sales method that involves presenting the lest expensive rate first.
  • Brownouts – Partial loss of electricity.
  • Business affiliation – Chain or independent ownership of hotels.
  • Call accounting – A computerized system that allows for automatic tracking and posting of outgoing guest room calls.
  • Cancellation code – A sequential series of alphanumeric combinations that provide the guest with a reference for a cancellation of a guaranteed reservation.
  • Cancellation date – Indicates the dates when the reservation was canceled.
  • Cash bank / Float – A specific amount of paper money and coins issued to a cashier to be used for making change.
  • Cashier – A person who processes guest check outs and legal tender and make change for guest.
  • Cashier’s report – A daily cash control report that list cashier activity of cash and credit cards and machine totals by cashier shift.
  • Chain – A group of hotels that follow standard operating procedures such as marketing, reservations, quality of service, food and beverage operations, housekeeping and accounting.
  • Chain affiliations – Hotels that purchase operational and marketing service from a corporation.
  • Channel management – Objective review of the most profitable marketing approach for guest rooms, central reservation system, GDS, third party reservation system, toll free phone reservation, travel agent, etc.
  • City ledger account – A collection of accounts receivable of nonregistered guest who use the service of the hotel.
  • Collective bargaining unit – A labor union
  • Commercial cards – Credit cards issued by cooperation, an example of which is Diners Club.
  • Commercial hotels – Hotels that provide short-term accommodation for travelling guests.
  • Commercial rate – Room rates for business people who represent a company but do not necessarily have bargaining power because of their infrequent or sporadic pattern of travel.
  • Communication hierarchy – A listing of the order in which management personnel may be called on to take charge in an emergency situation.
  • Complimentary rate – A rate in which there is no charge to the guest. It is usually signed off by the manager.
  • Computer supplies – Paper, forms, ribbons, ink cartridges needed to operate the system.
  • Concierge – A person who provides an endless array of information on entertainment, sports, amusement, transportation, tours, church services and babysitting in a particular city or town.
  • Conference call – A conversation in which three or more persons are linked by telephone.
  • Confirmed reservations – Prospective guests who have a reservation for accommodations that is honored until a specified time.
  • Continental breakfast – Juice , fruit, sweet roll and/or cereal.
  • Controller – The internal accountant for the hotel.
  • Convention guests – Guest who attend a large convention and receive a special room rate.
  • Corporate client – A hotel guest who represents a business or is a guest of that business and provides the hotel with an opportunity to establish a regular flow of business during sales periods that would normally be flat.
  • Corporate guests– frequent guests who are employed by a company and receive a special room rate.
  • Corporate rates – Room rate offered to corporate clients staying in the hotel.
  • Credit – A decrease in an asset or an increase in liability, or an amount of money the hotel owes the guest.
  • Credit balance – Amounts of money a hotel owes guests in future services.
  • Credit card imprinter – makes an imprint of the credit card the guest will use as the method of payment.
  • Crisis management – maintaining control of an emergency situation.
  • Cross-training – training employees for performing multiple tasks and jobs.
  • Current guests – Guest who are registered in the hotel
  • Customer relationship management – A system that allows hotel managers to integrate technology to support customer service techniques that provide top-notch customer service.
  • Cut-off date – The date agreed upon between a group or individual and the hotel after which all blocked unconfirmed rooms will be released back to availability
  • Cycle of service – The progression of a guest’s request for products and service through a hotel’s department.
  • Daily blocking – assigning guests to their particular rooms on a daily basis.
  • Daily sales report – A financial activity report produced by a department in a hotel that reflects daily sales activities with accompanying cash register tapes or point-of-sales audit tapes.
  • Database interfaces – the sharing of information among computers.
  • Data sorts – Report option in a PMS that indicate groupings of information.
  • Debit – An increase in an asset or a decrease in a liability.
  • Debit balance – An amount of money the guest owes the hotel.
  • Debit cards – Embossed plastic cards with a magnetic strip on the reverse side that authorize direct transfer of fund from a customer’s bank account to the commercial organization’s bank account for purchase of goods and services.
  • Deep cleaning – A through cleaning on furniture and accessories, windows, flooring and walls.
  • Demographic data – Size, density, distribution, and vital statistic of population broken down into, for example; age, sex, marital status and occupation categories.
  • Departmental accounts – Income and expense-generating areas of the hotel, such as restaurants, gift shop and banquet.
  • Direct-email letters – Letter sent directly to individuals in a targeted market group in a marketing effort .
  • Distance learning – learning that takes place via satellite broadcasts, Picture Tel, or online computer interaction.
  • Double Occupancy Percentage – A measure of a hotel’s staff ability to attract more than one guest to a room; the method to compute double occupancy percentage is :
  • Number of guest – number of rooms sold / number of rooms sold X 100%
  • Eco tourists – Tourist who plan vacation to understand the culture and environment of a particular area
  • Electronic key – A plastic key with electronic codes embedded on a magnetic strip.
  • Electronic key system – A system composed of battery-powered or, less frequently, hardwired locks; a host computer and terminals; a keypuncher; and special entry cards that are used as keys.
  • Empowerment – Management’s act of delegating certain authority and responsibility to frontline employees.
  • Ergonomics – The study of how people relate psychologically to machines.
  • European plan – A rate that quotes room charge only.
  • Express check out – Means by which the guest uses computer technology in a guest room or a computer in the hotel lobby to check out.
  • Family rate – room rates offered to encourage visit by families with children.
  • Float – The delay in payment from an account after using a credit card or personal check.
  • Floor limit – A dollar amount set by the credit card agency that allows for a maximum amount of guest charges.
  • Flow analysis processes – The preparation of a schematic drawing of the operations included in a particular function.
  • Flowchart – An analysis of the delivery of a particular product or service.
  • Folio – A guest’s record of charges and payment.
  • Forecasting – Projecting room sales for a specific period.
  • Full house – 100 percent hotel occupancy; a hotel that has all its guest room occupied.
  • Full service – A level of service provided by a hotel with a wide range of conveniences for the guest.
  • Global Distribution System (GDS) – Distributor of hotel rooms to corporations such as travel agents that buy rooms in large volume.
  • Going green – the responsibility to take care of the environment.
  • General ledger – A collection of accounts that the controller uses to organize the financial activities of the hotel.
  • Group rate – Room rate offered to large groups of people visiting the hotel for a common reason.
  • Group travelers – Person who are travelling on business or for pleasure in an organized fashion.
  • Guaranteed reservations – Prospective guests who made a contact with the hotel for a guest room.
  • Guest cycle – A division of the flow of business through a hotel that identifies the physical contacts and financial exchanges between the hotel and guests.
  • Guest Folio – A form imprinted with the hotel’s logo and control number and allowing space for room number, guest identification, date in and date out, and room rate in the upper left-hand corner; it allows for guest charges to be imprinted with PMS and is filed in room number sequence.
  • Guest history – Detail concerning the guest’ visits, such as ZIP code, frequent of visits, corporate affiliation or special needs.
  • Guest supplies – Commonly referred to as guest amenities or personal toiletries; care items such as small bottles of shampoo, hair conditioner, lotion, soap, mouthwash, shoeshine cloth, mending kit etc.
  • Hard key system – A security devise consisting of the traditional hard key that fits into keyhole in a lock; preset tumblers inside the lock are turned by the designated key.
  • Hardware – Computer equipment used to process software, such as central processing units, keyboards, monitor and printers.
  • Hospitality – The generous and cordial provision of services to a guest.
  • Hotel representative – A member of the marketing and sales department of the hotel who actively seeks out group activities planner.
  • House count – The number of persons registered in a hotel on a specific night.
  • Housekeeping room status – Terminology that indicate s availability of guest room such as available, clean or ready (room is ready to be occupied), occupied (guest or guests are already occupying a room), dirty or stay over (guest will not be checking out of a room on the current day), on change (guest has checked out of the room, but housekeeping staff has not released the room for occupancy), and out of order ( the room is not available for occupancy because of a mechanical malfunction)
  • Hubbart formula – A method used to computed room rate that considers such factors as operating expenses, desired return on investment and income from various departments in the hotel.
  • Incentive program – An organized effort by management to understand employees’ motivational concerns and develop opportunities for employees to achieve both their goals and the goals of the hotel.
  • Independent hotel – A hotel that is not associated with a franchise.
  • In-house laundry – A hotel-operated department that launders linens, uniforms, bedspreads etc.
  • In-room guest check out – A feature of the property management system that allows the guest to use a guest room television to check out of a hotel.
  • Interdepartmental communication – Communication between departments.
  • Interfacing – The ability of computers to communicate electronically and share data.
  • Inter-hotel property referrals – A system in which one member-property recommends another member property to a guest.
  • Job analysis – A detailed listing of the tasks performed in a job, which provides the basis for a sound job description.
  • Job description – A listing of required duties to be performed by an employee in a particular job.
  • Key drawer – A drawer located underneath the counter of the front desk that holds room keys in slots in numerical order.
  • Key fob – A decorative and descriptive plastic or metal tag attached to a hard key.
  • Late charges – Guest charges that might not be included on the guest folio because of a delay in posting by other department.
  • Leisure travelers – People who travel alone or with others on their own for visits to points of interest, to relatives, or for other personal reasons.
  • Liabilities – Financial or other contractual obligations or debts.
  • Limited service – A level of service provided by a hotel with guest room accommodations and limited food service and meeting space.
  • Litigious society – An environment in which consumers sue providers of products and services for not delivering them according to expected operating standards.
  • Long stay – A guest who stays more than a certain number of days. E.g. 10 days.
  • Manager’s report – A listing of occupancy statistics from the previous day, such as occupancy percentage, yield percentage, average daily rate, Rev PAR, and number of guests.
  • Market segment – Identifiable group of customers with similar needs for products and services.
  • Marquee – The curbside message board, which includes the logo of the hotel and space for a message.
  • Mass marketing – Advertising products and service through mass communications such as television, radio, and internet.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) – A listing of the chemical contents, relative hazards to the users, and name and address of the producers of the contents.
  • Military and Educational rate – Room rate established for military personnel and educators.
  • Modified American Plan – A room rate that offers one meal with the price of a room rental.
  • Moonlighter – A person who holds a full-time job at one organization and a part-time job at another organization.
  • Night Audit – the control process whereby the financial activity of guest’s accounts is maintained and balanced on a daily basis.
  • No show – A guest who made a room reservation by did not arrive.
  • No-show factor – Percentage of guests with confirmed or guaranteed reservations who do not show up.
  • No post – A special functionality on PMS which disables extra charges being posted to the guest account
  • Occupancy percentage – The number of rooms sold divided by the number of rooms available.
  • On the job training – A training process in which the employee observes and practices a tasks while performing his or her job.
  • Organization Chart – Schematic drawing that list management position in an organization.
  • Orientation Check List – A summary of all items that must be covered during orientation.
  • OTA – Online travel agents e.g. Booking.com
  • Outsourcing – Provision of service to the hotel, for example; a central reservation system by an agency outside of the hotel.
  • Outstanding balance report – A listing of guest’s folio balances.
  • Overbooking – Accepting reservations for more rooms than are available by forecasting the number of no show reservations, stayovers, understays, and walk ins, with the goal of attaining 100 percent occupancy.
  • Package Rate – Room rate that include goods and services in addition to rental of a room.
  • Paid in advance (PIA) – Guest who paid cash at check in.
  • Paid-outs – Amount of monies paid out of the cashier’s drawer on behalf of guest or an employee of the hotel.
  • Par System – A level of inventory established that provides adequately for service.
  • Percent Yield – The number of rooms sold at average daily rate versus number of rooms available at rack rate multiplied by 100
  • Point of sale (POS) – It’s a system used in restaurants, gift shops, spa, etc to charge the guest.
  • Posting – The process of debiting and crediting charges and payments to a guest folio.
  • Policy and procedure manual – Publication that provides an outline of how the specific duties of each job are to be performed.
  • Potential gross income – The amount of sales a hotel might obtain at a given level of occupancy, average daily rate and anticipated yield.
  • Private label cards – Credit cards issued by retail organization, such as a department store or gasoline company.
  • Profit-and-loss statement – A listing of revenues and expenses for a certain time period.
  • Property Management System (PMS) – A generic term for applications of computer hardware and software used to manage a hotel by networking reservation and registration databases, point of sales system, accounting system and other office software.
  • Rack rate – The highest room rate category offered by a hotel. The normal rate without a discount.
  • RevPar – Revenue per available room. Total revenue / Total number of rooms available to sell.
  • RRS – Room rate spread. Potential average double rate – Potential average single rate.
  • Referral reservation service – A service offered by a management company of a chain of hotels to franchisee members.
  • Registration card – A form on which the guest indicates name, home or billing address, phone number, date of departure, method of payment and etc.
  • Residential hotel – hotels that provide long term accommodations for guest.
  • Revenue management – A process of planning to achieve maximum room rate and most  profitable guests ( guest who will spend money at the hotel’s food and beverage outlets, spa etc ) that encourages front office manager, general manager and marketing or sales director to target sales periods and develop sales programs that will maximize profit for the hotel.
  • Room blocking – reserving rooms for guests who are holding reservations.
  • Room revenue – The amount of room sales received.
  • Room sales projections – A weekly report prepared and distributed by the front office manager that indicates the number of the departures, arrivals, walk ins, stayovers, and no shows.
  • Sales indicators – Number of guest and revenue generated.
  • Self-check-in process – A procedure that requires the guest to insert a credit card with a magnetic stripe containing personal and financial data into a self check-in terminal and answer a few simple questions concerning the guest stay.
  • Stayovers – currently registered guest who wish to extend their stay beyond the time for which they made reservations.
  • Tentative booking – When the booking has not been confirmed
  • Total Quality Management (TQM) – A management technique that encourages managers to look critically at process used to produce products and services.
  • Travel directories – Organized listings of hotel reservation access methods and hotel geographic and specific accommodations information.
  • Traveler’s checks – Prepaid checks that have been issued by a bank or other financial organization.
  • TRevPOR – Total Revenue per Occupied Room. Room + F&B + Other Revenue / Total occupied rooms.
  • TRevPAR – Total Revenue per Available Room – Room + F&B + Other Revenue / Total Available Rooms.
  • Understays – Guest who arrive on time but decide to leave before their predicted date of departure.
  • Upsell – To encourage a customer to consider buying a higher priced product or service than originally anticipated.
  • Visual alarm systems – flashing lights that indicate a fire or other emergency in a hotel room.
  • Void – Reversal of charges. This is done by the manager or supervisor.
  • Walk in guest – Guest who request a room rental without having made a reservation.
  • Waitlisted reservation/ booking – A reservations put on hold because the hotel is fully booked. Should there be any cancellation, the reservation will be fulfilled.
  • Wash down – Blocking fewer rooms than the number requested by a group, based on the history.
  • Yield – The percentage of income that could be secured if 100 percent of available rooms are sold at their full rack rate.
  • ZIP or Postal Code – An individual local postal designation assigned by a country.


Dealing with Front Office Challenges

In hotel front office, you do encounter some challenges that will require tact when dealing with them.


Here is a few:


Inebriated and disorderly guests

  1. Begin by politely asking them to be a little quieter as they are disturbing other customers. If you have already asked them to quieten down, and have been unsuccessful, do not get into an argument.
  • Continue to remain calm as if you get upset the customer will become more disorderly.
  • If they refuse to quieten down ask for assistance from a Manager.  It is normally easier to deal with an inebriated customer when you are not on your own.
  • If the customer is staying in the establishment, offer to escort them to their room.
  • If they are not staying in the establishment, offer to get them a taxi to take them home.
  • If all these alternatives have been unsuccessful, the last resort taken would be to call for security.  They are fully trained on how to escort the customer off the premises in a polite and friendly manner.


Guests with no booking found, but made in advance

The front desk agent might take the following steps to clarify the situation:

  • Do everything possible at first to find the reservation before telling the customer there is no booking as it can be possible that there is an error on the reservation record. If within one minute you could not quickly locate the reservation inform the customer that you cannot locate the reservation and ask for his assistance in trying alternatives to locate it.  Always apologise to the guest for the time delay.
  • Whilst going through the following detail to find the reservation, give the customer a registration card to complete to shorten his / her delay to get their room.
  • If the guest presents a letter of confirmation, verify the date and name of the establishment, the customer may have arrived on a different date or at the incorrect property.  Most confirmation letters have a confirmation number that will help the front desk agent locate the reservation.
  • Ask whether another person might have made the reservation of the customer, the reservation may be at another property, or it may be registered under the caller’s name and not the guest’s name.
  • Re-check the reservations file or computer system in view of the customer, perhaps the reservation was incorrectly filed or otherwise mishandled.
  • Double check the computer for another spelling of the guest's name.  For instance, B, P, and T may have been confused when the reservation was made during a telephone conversation.  Also check to see if the customers first and last name were inadvertently reserved whilst making the reservation
  • If the reservation was made through a travel agency or representative, allow the guest to call the originating source for clarification.
  • Ask the guest to confirm his or her arrival date; the customer may be arriving on a different day on the computer system and the reservation may have been cancelled as a no-show.
  • Print a copy of the arrivals report for the day and go through the list with the guest as they might notice something which would lead to finding the reservation, for example, a Company name.
  • Inform the guest of the outcome and suggestion to ensure that the situation does not reoccur and cause inconvenience to them.


Rude/ Aggressive Guests

  • It can be very challenging to deal with a rude or aggressive customer.  The best way to deal with this behaviour is to remain calm, do not get upset and watch their body language to determine how to deal with the situation.
  • Taking the HEAT with the customer will enable you to get the customer to calm down and still give the best service.


The HEAT approach is used in Service Plus:


H - hear

E - empathize

A - apologize

T – Take responsibility


Hear out the guest

Acknowledge the guest

  • Stop what you are doing, make eye contact, smile and greet the guest:

“Good morning, Sir / Ma’am”.


Offer assistance

“How may I help you? “


Hear the guest out

  • Listen to what the guest says without interrupting.
  • When the guest has finished speaking, ask questions to enable you to fully understand the situation.
  • Do not show fear or anxiety - it is important to show confidence because the guest needs to know that you can handle the situation.
  • Once the guest has finished speaking, state your understanding of the situation / problem.



  • Thank the guest for bringing the problem to your attention.
  • Empathise with the guest: “I understand that you are annoyed that you made a reservation and we cannot locate it.”


Apologise and Re-assure the Guest


  • Apologise briefly and sincerely that the guest has experienced a problem. For example:

“I am terribly sorry Mr. ______.” OR “I do apologise Mr. ______.”


Take responsibility for solving the problem

  • Accept responsibility for solving the problem by advising the guest that you will attend to the situation immediately. For example: “Let us proceed with checking you in and I will double check all possibilities to locate your reservation".
  • Never blame another person or department for causing the problem - it is unprofessional and disloyal to the company which you represent.
  • If the incident is something which you can handle, then it is your responsibility to take appropriate action.
  • Discuss with the customer what action should be taken, and come to a definite agreement on what will be done and by when.
  • Take the necessary action.
  • Revert back to the guest regarding the action that has been taken and to ask if he / she is satisfied that the problem has been solved.


Error in booking dates

If an error is picked up on a customer's arrival date, proceed as follows:

  • Check supporting documentation for verification
  • Print out the documentation and hand to the customer for checking
  • If the establishment still has rooms available apologise for the inconvenience and quickly proceed with checking the customer in.
  • If the establishment is fully booked then the receptionist is to assist the customer to find alternative accommodation.
  • If the staff of the hotel made the error they should ensure that they transport the customer to their new hotel and the General Manager writes an apology letter.


Equipment/ System failure

In the event of a computer problem or breakdown, inform the Supervisor immediately, then proceed as follows:

  • If the guest wishes to check in when the computer system is still out of order, manually record which customers have arrived.
  • Obtain a listing of vacant ready rooms from housekeeping and keep the list on the reception desk.
  • When a customer arrives mark off the rooms that have been allocated.
  • If the point of sale machine goes off-line from the bank while an authorisation is being processed, write the credit card number and the expiry date on the guest's registration card. Process the card manually, and hand this to the Supervisor who will process it once the point of sale is back on line.
  • Once the computer system is back on line, all the registration details must be entered onto the computer system.
  • As a contingency plan, most establishments do random printouts of guest arrivals and room status reports and keep them on file so that they may refer to them in the event of equipment/system failure
  • Some establishments have a direct telephone link from the point of sale to the bank with a backup power supply so that in the event of a power failure or telephone line problem, credit card payments can be carried out uninterrupted.


Educational Qualifications Required in Hotel Front Office

Working in the front office department is more a personality job. It you have the personality, you can work without much education, however, you will have an advantage if you have studied the front office course or have done a hospitality management course. You also have an advantage when you know how to work on the computer and you are able to use a property management (PMS) sytem.


In conclusion, working in the front office is a lot of fulfilling. You get to meet people from different parts of the world with different personalities, however, it has its own set of challenges. Once you are able to deal with them professionally, you will enjoy working in the front office. One of the greatest advantages of working in front office is that once you gain experience, you can work for any hotel in the world!


Are you looking to work in the Front Office department or you are already in the game? Where are you based? Please leave a comment.