105. THE FRONT OFFICE
The Front Office is the nerve centre of the hotel and encompasses the Front Desk, the Reservations
Office, Uniformed Services and Telephone Services. The attitude of its services, coupled with their
efficiency, is responsible for the reputation earned by the Company. Each staff member is a constant
salesman for the hotel.
No other department has a finer opportunity to create the courteous, efficient and congenial impression
so essential to success. From the time of arrival to the time of departure the Front Office staff is in
continual contact with the guest.
Organizational Chart of the Front Office
Front Office Manager
Asst FOM Credit Mgr Chief Telephone Night Assist. Bus Cent.
Concierge supervisor Manager Mgrs Superv.
Reception or Cashier Telephone Night Guest Rel.
Desk Mgr Supervisor Bell Captain Operators auditor mgr
Senior Cashier Bellboys Doorman Gurst Rel.
Receptionist Pages Drivers BC Clerk
Historically the development of front office took several centuries from the innkeepers’ servants
to become later front office manager.
We have few information from the ancient Roman times. It was not until the sometime after the birth of
Christ that certain buildings were adapted so as to be used as hotels, in particular during the reigns of
the Emperors Augustus, Domitian and Aurelian These inns or stations were usually situated at all the
principal halting places along the Roman roads and here traders, soldiers and travelers, though only
those bearing special permits, could find a change of horses, food, or stay the night. This service,
organized by the Imperial administration, became progressively more and more efficient.
A praefectus praetorianus, who represented the authority of the state, played and important part in the
general organization of the hotels and postal service in Roman times; this personage, if we consider his
power over the hotel community, could be compared today to a modern hotel manager. Another
important official was the praefectus machinarum, who was in charge of the various pieces of equipment
in the building and, in a vague sort of way, was rather like the hotel porter of today.
He was supposed to act as a custodian, organize provisions, changes of horses and see to the
maintenance of the hotel buildings and furnishings. His staff was composed of stablemen, postillions
and veterinary surgeons, as well as ordinary laborers. One thing is sure that from the very beginning of
the 3. Century AD registration in hostels, mutations, etc. was obligatory; the owner of the hostel etc. was
liable for the belongings of the guests.
In the distant past, e.g. the concierge was the castle doorkeeper. A concierge's job was to
ensure that all castle occupants were secure in their rooms at night. Travelling royalty often were
accompanied by a concierge. Concierges provided security and travelled ahead of the royal party to
finalize food and lodging arrangements. As hotels became more common in Europe, the concierge
Budapest Business School Tourism & Hotel Management 1
eventually became part of the staff that provided personalized guest services. This position was brought
to the US in the 70s only and often confused the position with one of the doorman.
Another version is, that the word comes from the Latin “con servus” meaning with service, and
from French. The comte the cierges1 was in charge of prisons, making him the keeper of the keys under
the French monarchs. The European concierge was a door attendant, and therefore keeper of the keys,
and porter, a giver of service. These duties are still part of the European concierge’s job, particularly in
the small hotels. Controlling the keys enables the concierge to watch the comings and goings of guests
and thus furnish a bit of extra protection and information. This is not the American interpretation of the
job, except when a hotel offers a concierge floor, or luxury floor.
Well experienced and certified concierges may be identified by the prominent gold crossed keys
displayed on their jacket lapel. To earn these keys, a concierge must be certified by the international
association of concierges, known as Golden Keys (Les Clefs d'Or). This organization was established in
the 20s in France and has established high standards for its members.
As inns became hotels i.e. the number of rooms was growing it became necessity to separate
certain duties. Reservations and check in& checkout were taken over from the innkeeper by the
receptionist at a later stage by the chief of reception.
The Front Office is an American ”invention” deriving from the merge of front desk and back office
(reservations, billing office and journal).
Details from the historical development of hotels:
1788 The first European luxury hotel was opened in Nantes
1794 The first American hotel was opened in New York
1834 Indoor plumbing was introduced into hotel industry by Astor
1859 First hotel elevator is installed in New York's Fifth Avenue Hotel
1875 The Palace was built in San Francisco, at a cost of 5 Mio USD.
It was the biggest and the best of its time, with 800 rooms.
The history of AICR
The launching of the idea of a professional association proposed by one of the head of receptions of
Monte Carlo (The launching of Golden Key was also proposed from the Provence) – the original idea
was to bring together colleagues of leading hotels of the area – to meet together in order to facilitate
communication and establish personal and professional relations of confidence. The Hungarian chapter
created in 1991 and died around 1998.
Front Office Organization
1., Reservations Department (optional)
2., Front Desk (Reception &Cashier)
3., Concierge-Mail-Information Front Desk
4., Guest Relations, Business Centre
5., Telephone Services
6., Uniformed Services
The hotel image: Impressions factors
Guests form distinct impressions about a hotel based upon what they see, what they hear, and the way
in which they are treated by the hotel staff. Through these three processes the guest creates in his mind
an „image” of the hotel.
Cierge: templomi gyertya, rendőr, kém
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The image created in the minds of many guests by what they see, hear and are made to feel,
collectively result in the creation of a hotel’s reputation.
The Front Office Staff represents the most visible group to the guest. They are the first to greet the
guest – i.e. The Doorman, Bellman and Receptionist, and the last to say goodbye. –i.e. The Front Office
Cashier, Bellman and Doorman. During the stay, the guest will have many personal contacts with the
Concierge, receptionists, Mail and Information Clerks, Telephone Operators and possibly others such as
Business Centre Operator, Assistant manager.
The front desk
This department is often the first hotel department that a guest encounters when arriving at a hotel.
The main duties of this department are:
Welcoming and checking in of new arrivals
Selling the facilities of the hotel
Maintaining records of resident guests
Providing guest information for other sections of the front office and other departments of a
Accepting payments, etc.
Before going into details we should be a little-bit more familiar with the necessary qualities of a hotel
An amusing mnemonic2 suggests that all receptionists should be DRIPS - although not in the literal
sense! It categorizes the role of the receptionists into five areas.
2. Record keeper
3. Information source
What skills are required for carrying out the work of a receptionist and how can they be recognized?
Most hotel staff is recruited after an interview. The picture that an interview gives, however, is often only
a partial view of the applicant, for the person applying for the job may try and minimize the traits 3 that
they feel would debar4 them from work as a receptionist.
A list of attributes for the 'perfect' receptionist often sounds similar to those requires for perfection in any
person (or any other customer-contact job) There is much discussion over whether or not it is possible
to train employees to be smart, socially skilled, diplomatic, systematic and so on.
Possibly the most important requirement for the receptionist is the ability (and willingness) to
learn. It is unlikely that a recluse5 will apply to work where they would be in constant contact with
people, so, in this respect, applicants will be self-selecting. The knowledge of foreign languages would
be of vital importance.
There are six primary ways in which Front Office personnel can become among the most
effective salesmen in the company and if conscientiously applied, can ensure optimum occupancy and
revenue results, not only for specific hotels but for the chain as a whole.:
kizár vkt vmből
a világtól elzárt/elzárkózott ember
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When dealing with guests – put yourself in the place of the guest. If you treat a guest with the same care
and attention with which you should like to be treated yourself, you can be assured of giving the guest
the very best service of which you are capable. Think like a guest, act like a host.(or Put yourself in the
shoes of a client)
When dealing with guests – give personal recognition. Make it known to the guest that you know his
name by using it. Make it known that you know he is a repeat guest by telling him so. Make it known that
you know he is of particular value to the company by telling him so.
When dealing with guests – give them your undivided, sincere attention the moment they need your
help. Make each guest aware that he has priority over and above any other guest or activity.
When dealing with guests – employ the simple policy of being open and honest in your actions and your
words. Make promises that you can keep – not promises you would like to keep bat cannot. If there is
an unavoidable problem – tell the truth and be sincere in your efforts to correct it.
The relationship with guests is never more complex than the ratio of one guest to one employee. An
atmosphere of friendly, personal respect by an employee towards the guest creates a sense of comfort
and well-being for which there is no substitute and which far outweighs in importance the physical
comforts and facilities of any hotel. When such relationships exist, complaints are minimal and
employees perform their functions better. The guest will inevitably return time and again to the same
hotel, and to others in the chain (if), because he has been made to feel personally welcome. Thus the
opportunity to convince guests that Magic is the finest hotel chain in the country or world (?) presents
itself to Front Office personnel all day, every day, and the absolute need to take advantage of this is
paramount importance to us all.
Webster’s Dictionary defines someone who is „hospitable” as a person
„given to generous and cordial reception of guests” and goes on to define cordiality as „Sincere
affection and kindness”
The difference between a first-class hotel with fine reputation and an equally comfortable hotel with a
poor reputation is the presence or absence of „hospitable” behaviour. The procedures of the Front
Office are simple to understand and perform.
Social skills have been described as the way in which a person behaves towards others in different
social situations. This can be characterized by the difference between a receptionist's behaviour
towards a VIP guest and his or her behaviour towards the page who has been detailed to accompany
the guest to the room. The receptionist will adopt a different style in each case.
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Social skills are achieved by the coordination of verbal and non-verbal behaviour in a given
situation. Equally important is the perception of cues from the other person.
For a receptionist, certain simple social skills are easily acquired.
The first is an attentive manner. In listening to a customer, the receptionist should be interested and
concerned about what is being said; it is also important not to fiddle with a pencil or to move things
around on the desk- these actions quickly show boredom. The second is eye contact. It is remarkable
that some front office staff manage to deal with guests without ever looking them in the eye. The
impression again is one of disinterest and shallowness6. Eye contact should be established and used
throughout any dealings with guests. The third is tone of voice. This can convey meanings as
effectively as what is said; it is not enough to say, "I'm sorry, sir"- it must be said with the correct
inflexion of speech. For most people, a pleasant voice is not too loud and not too fast. An alarming trait
is that of shouting at foreigners in the hope that they will understand through the sheer 7 volume of noise.
The fourth is the use of guests' names. At every opportunity the guest's name should be used. This
personalizes the conversation, and is clear evidence of interest and personal attention. In addition, it
assists reception staff in remembering the names of individual guests. Some hotel companies train their
front office staff to address the guest by names at least three times during registration. Conversely, it is
extremely rude to refer to guests by their room number, such as, "309 would like to know how much the
bill is". Even in large hotels, it is possible to use guests' names by glancing quickly at the room status
system or the key card when being asked for a room key.
FO Salesmanship - The need for sales
Selling has been recognized as a part of the work of a receptionist for many years, but most sales
training has concentrated upon the "public relations" aspect of the work. It is only recently that some
hotels have systematically trained their reception staff to increase sales of the whole hotel, and also the
company they work for.
In order that selling from the reception desk is effective it must have the active support of top
Without active management participation, any plan for the reception to increase sales
systematically will be a failure. Front office staff should be aware of the sales leads, which form an
important part of the marketing of the hotel. Mail shots and other information will make much more
impact if they are assured to reach the right person. Sales leads (in a more detailed way will be
discussed later in chapter Sales & Marketing).
The hotel product:
The technique provides a clear knowledge of exactly what constitutes the product. For a hotel
this may be more complex than it first seems. The hotel building itself is the first part of the
analysis. The receptionist should know the location and full address including the postcode, the
telephone, the telemessage and e-mail address. Linked with this, the receptionist should be
able to explain clearly to the guest how to reach the hotel by all forms of public and private
transport. For private transport, the receptionist should know parking facilities any restrictions or
charges to apply. The total number of rooms and their variety, and the star rating together with
details of the ownership of the hotel may be requested of a receptionist.
Hotel address and telephone numbers
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Room attributes, views, bed types
Restaurants& their opening times
Additional hotel services like lobby shop, etc.
Local area and places of interest
Hotel access from major highways, local airport and railway-stations
Members of the management are an important part of the hotel "product" so all receptionists
should be able to recognize and know the names of all members of the management in the
hotel. A potential guest who asks for Mr. Evans and is told that he is not resident will not have a
great deal of faith in the hotel if Mr. Evans is the name of the banqueting manager.
For the receptionist the individual guestrooms are the most important part of the hotel. It is not
possible to sell a room to a potential client with only partial knowledge of the benefits.
Receptionist will not have the chance to use efficient or innovative registration techniques if the
guest is not convinced of the value of renting a hotel room. Part of the receptionist' job to create
consumer acceptance of the hotel's products; guestrooms, facilities, and services. Some
American hotels have adopted the technique of storing photographs of typical rooms at the front
desk so that the client may see a room before making decision. On the Continent it is common
practice for the guest to be taken to see the room before actually buying and this is a procedure
rapidly being adopted by many hotels in the UK.
Lounges, salons, toilets and other public areas in the hotel should be known to the receptionist.
Then they will be able to direct guests throughout the hotel and recommend the most
appropriate place for a guest to sit quietly, or wait for a friend.
Food and beverage facilities:
These are second only to the guestrooms in importance to guest. The receptionist should know
full details of every food and beverage outlets in the hotel. Many hotels assist the receptionist by
displaying a copy of the menu and bar tariff at the front desk, so that they can be shown to
guests who inquire about the facilities. The receptionist must be fully knowledgeable of the
opening times of the outlets.
An important part of product analysis is clear knowledge of any rules and restrictions that may
be in force in the establishment. Equally necessary is an understanding of why they operate, so
that they can be explained intelligently to the guest. Obviously these will vary from one hotel to
the next, but important ones will probably concern check out times, prepayment for walk-in
bookings, payment by check, last orders in the restaurant, extensions of stay and so on.
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The last of product analysis concerns the facilities offered by other hotels and restaurants in the area. If
a receptionist knows what the competition offers and what its strong points are then they will be able to
meet the objections of the guest and emphasize the strong points of their own property.
Guests are not always aware of the range of services available in a hotel. Reception staff can promote
the sales of the services by suggesting the most appropriate service to the guest, or offering alternatives
for the guest to choose from. Two strategies that can be used when offering alternatives of
accommodation to customers are top-down and bottom-up approaches.
The top-down technique
requires the receptionist to start from the most expensive option, and then offer progressively cheaper
ones if the guest does not intend to take the more expensive offer. This method is most appropriate with
guests whose prime concern is comfort and service, rather than cost. The most expensive and costly
option is described first, as this is likely to appeal most to this type of guest.
The bottom-up technique,
on the other hand, requires the receptionist to start with the cheapest option, and then persuade the
guest to take progressively more expensive packages. This method is most appropriate with guests
whose prime consideration is the cost of the service. If the most expensive option is offered first, the
guest would be put off right away. By starting with the cheapest option and then suggesting that for a
small amount more the guest could have much better accommodation, the receptionist may be able to
persuade the guest to accept services of the medium or higher price ranges.
When choosing a selling strategy, reception staff has to anticipate what will motivate the guest to use a
service. For example, will the guest be attracted by offering a special promotional price, or will the guest
be more interested in the exclusivity of expensive service?
In general, it can be said that:
Well-dressed, affluent8 guests are less likely to be on a tight budget and may be more concerned
with the quality of service than costs
Guests whose full accounts are settled by their companies tend to spend more than guests paying
Guests who want to impress business clients or colleagues tend to spend more on high-quality
Guests who desire comfort are more likely to treat themselves to expensive services.
Reception staff, therefore, has to observe and listen to guests carefully. They may have to know more
about guest, such as the purpose of the guest's visit or the account details, in order to establish a
guest's needs and be able to recommend the most appropriate service.
it is important to remember that when employing suggestive selling, care must be taken to avoid
applying too much pressure on guests.
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The hotel is liable for loss of guests' property while they are staying at the hotel.
This liability does not extend to cases where loss or damage is caused by an act of God, action by the
Queen's enemies, or negligence by the guest or their servants or companions. If a guest were to offer
property for deposit, but the receptionist refused it as all deposit boxes were full, and it was
subsequently stolen, then the hotel would be fully liable for the subsequent loss.
Payment of bill:
A hotel may request full payment of the bill in legal tender. In practice this means cash. An offer to pay
by any other means need only be accepted at the discretion of the hotel. The Theft Act 1968 has made
it easier for guests who leave without paying to be prosecuted. Section 16 allows prosecution 9 of any
person who obtains a pecuniary10 advantage by deception11. A guest, who gives a check in payment,
knowing that it will not be met, can be prosecuted. If it is given in good faith, however, this may not be
Should the guest be unable or unwilling to pay the bill, the hotel may hold the guest's property against
payment. Excluded from this are cars (UK) and the clothing worn by the guest. This does not mean that
a guest may be physically restrained from leaving the hotel, for the restraint may constitute an assault.
(More details at cashier)
1., The process FO of management:
The efforts of members of FO are channelled, coordinated and guided towards the achievement of
organizational goals and objectives.
Activities of Sequential Functions:
Without planning an organization would be chaotic. Once the hotel's mission statement has
been defined, the next step is setting goals.
The Front Office Manager's first task is to define the departmental goals and also how to execute them.
Forecasting: Establishing where present courses will lead.
Setting objectives: Determining desired results
Developing strategies: Deciding how and when to achieve goals
Programming: Establishing priorities, sequence, and timing of steps
Budgeting: Allocating resources
Setting procedures: Standardizing methods
Developing policies: Making standing decisions on important recurring matters
perbefogás, bűnvádi eljárás
visszatartási/megtartási jog, (or pledge)(zálogjog)
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Most expenses for the front office operations are direct expenses in that way they vary in direct
proportion to rooms revenue. Historical data can be used to calculate an approximate percentage of
rooms revenue that each expense item may represent. These percentage figures can then be applied to
the total amount of forecasted rooms revenue, resulting in Forint (euro or dollar) estimates for each
expense category for the budget year.
Typical rooms division expenses are:
Payroll and related expenses
Guestroom laundry (terry and linen)
Guest supplies (bath amenities, toilet tissue, matches)
Hotel merchandising (in-room guest directory, brochures)
TA-commissions and reservations expenses,
And other expenses
When these costs are totalled and divided by occupied rooms, the cost per occupied rooms is
determined. The costs per occupied rooms are often expressed in forint, etc. or as a percentage. Based
on historical data the expense categories as percentages of room revenue are:
Year Payroll& Laundry+Guest S Commissions Other Expenses
2000 20,9% 2,9% 2,5% 3,75%
2001 22,3% 3,1% 2,7% 4,00%
2002 22,5% 3,2% 2,8% 4,20%
2003 24,8% 3,3% 2,9% 4,60%
The management’s current objectives for the budget year 2003, the percentage of rooms revenue for
each expense category may be projected as follows:
payroll and related 25,6%, Laundry- linen and terry, and guest supplies 3,5 %, commissions and
reservations expenses 3%, other expenses 5 %.
Using these percentage figures and the expected rooms revenue calculated previously 500.000), The
Magic Hotel’s rooms division expenses for the budgeted year are estimated as follows:
Payroll and related expenses: 500.000 x0,25= 125.000
Laundry, linen, terry, guest supply: 500.000 x0,035= 17.500
Commissions, reservations expenses: 500.000 x0,03= 15.000
Other expenses: 500.000 x0,05= 25.000
If costs start rising (as a percentage, not in real dollars), profitability will be reduced. Therefore, one of
the outcomes of the budget process will be to identify where costs are rising as a percentage of
revenue. Then, management can analyse why these costs are increasing disproportionately with
revenue and develop a plan to control them. Since most front office expenses vary proportionally with
rooms revenue (and therefore occupancy), another method of estimating these expenses is to estimate
variable costs per room sold and then multiply these costs by the number of rooms expected to be sold.
If no historical data are available for budget planning, other sources of information can be used
to develop a budget. If our hotel is being a chain hotel corporate headquarters can often supply
comparable budget information or consulting firms may also provide some useful information.
Many hotels refine expected results of operations and revise operations budget as they progress
through the budget year. Reforecasting is normally suggested when actual operating results start to vary
significantly from the operations budget.
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Operating ratios assist managers in evaluating the success of front office organizations. In our table
below we could find more than 20 ratios that might be useful to managers in evaluating the success of
One of the most frequently analysed areas in the rooms or front office operations are the labour costs.
Department Payroll &Related Exp. Net Revenue Labour Cost
Rooms 125.000 500.000, 25%
F&B 180.000 400.000, 40%
Telephone 12.000 40.000, 30%
Operating ratios are meaningful only when compared against useful criteria such as:
Planned ratio goals
Corresponding historical ratios
Organization can be defined as a system of coordinated activities of a group of people working
cooperatively towards a common goal under authority and leadership. The four activities involved in
getting organized are as follows:
Establishing an organizational structure: Drawing up an organizational chart
Delineating relationships: Defining liaison lines to facilitate coordination.
Creating job descriptions: Defining the scope, relationship, responsibilities, and authority of each
member of the organization.
Establishing position qualifications: Defining the qualifications for people in each position.
Front office manager should coordinate the efforts of staff so that the work is performed efficiently and
on time. Coordination needs management's skills, its two main territories are: departmental and
to hire the best work force is a systematic and hopeless effort, important activities are: scheduling and
Selecting, orienting, training and developing (improving knowledge, attitude and skills) employees
Today’s high level of efficiency necessitates a close and constant supervision. In order to achieve a high
level of performance it is necessary to create a manager subordinate relationship, which is supportive
and intended to enhance self-esteem and ego. Each hotel has an internal controlling process, this
process ensures that plans and results closely match or not (importance of feedback)
Daily, weekly, monthly manager reports, logbook
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Establishing a reporting system: Determining what critical data are needed.
Developing performance standards: Setting conditions that will exist when key duties are well done.
Measuring results: Ascertaining the extent of deviation from goals and standards.
Taking corrective actions: Adjusting plans, counselling to attain standards, replanning and
repeating the several sequential functions as necessary.
Rewarding: Praising, remunerating, or administering discipline.
A leader influences staff to achieve team or organizational goals. Leaders influence,
persuade and inspire their followers (motivation).
Leading involves the process of delegation, supervision and control.
Leading vs. managing
Delegating: Assigning responsibility and exacting accountability for results.
Motivating: Persuading and inspiring people to take the desired action.
Coordinating: Relating efforts in the most efficient combination.
Managing differences: Encouraging independent thought and resolving conflict.
Managing change: Stimulating creativity and innovation in achieving goals.
According to Mackenzie, delegation is one of five activities of direction. Another view is that delegation
is the most valuable activity. The other activities – motivation, coordination, managing differences and
managing change - can be seen as stemming from a manager’s ability to delegate properly. To often we
hear the phrase: “delegation of responsibilities and authority”. In fact, it is impossible to delegate a
responsibility. To delegate actually means to pass authority to someone who will act in behalf of the
delegator. The passing of such authority does not relieve the delegator of the responsibility for action or
results, although there is an implied accountability of the person to whom the power has been delegated
to the person having that power. The responsibility of a manager for the acts or actions of his or her
subordinates is therefore absolute and may not be passed to anyone else.
Evaluation determines the extent or results to which planned goals are attained.
Evaluation also means reviewing and if necessary revising set front office goals.
Evaluation in the Front Office based on the following plans
Forecasting availability and
Budgeting FO operations
And the following reports:
Daily, monthly and Yearly manager report etc.
Evaluating (appraising) personal performances:
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