Roles of the Front Office Part 1/2

The hotel’s front office department will make the first and last impression on a guest. The front desk, a major section of the front office, in most hotels are strategically located in the entrance hall, or lobby. (Thus, their name front desk.) When a guest first checks in to when the leave the hotel, they will interact with members of the front office. When a guest wants information, to reserve rooms, retrieve their vehicles, get their door keys, and pay their bills – they interact with one department, the front office.

 

Most front offices always have an employee present. From guest service agents, bell, concierge, night audit, and duty managers there will almost always be someone from front office available to assist. Depending on the size of the operations, reservations could fall under the front office team. There will is a separate posting (coming soon) on different reservations roles, and what their responsibilities to a hotel operation is.

 

The size of a hotel determines the staff present at the Front Office.  A large hospitality operation may have the Front Office Manager (FOM), Assistant Front Office Manager (AFOM), Guest Service Manager (GSM), Night Manager (NA), Guest Service Supervisors (GSS), Duty Managers (DM), Guest Service Agents (GSA), Night Audit/Night GSA, Switchboard (SWB), Rooms/Inventory Controller (RC), and Reservations Agents. Each team member plays a key role to help the hotel, guests, and fellow colleagues.

 

Let’s look at each main role, and what they do:

Guest Service Agent

A GSA’s main responsibility is to check in and check out guests of the hotel. They act as a face and main point of contact when a guest has a question. You will assist people when they are looking for directions, give recommendation for events and dining in the town/hotel, and genuinely make guests feel welcome.

Common duties:

  1. Check in and out guest. Getting to know them and fulfil their specific requests
  2. Assign upcoming reservations to rooms
  3. Take credit, debit, cash, and cheque payments for hotel amenities and stays.
  4. Provide detailed explanations of the hotel’s layout, and how to get to key locations
  5. Upsell guests into higher class room types – often making a commission
  6. Keep track of a queue to ensure the guest who arrived first are put into ready rooms first.
  7. Make reservations for walk-in guests – and reservations over the phone (if no reservation department)
  8. Set up billing and payments for travel agents and online travel agents
  9. Take part in hotel meetings
  10. Provide welcome calls to guests and create a personal connection

The skills you gain from this role are:

  • Customer service, from your constant interactions with guests and passersby
  • Sales, when making upsells and selling commissionable activities
  • Problem resolution, situations will occur where you are responsible for the outcome
  • Financial skills, you are working with payments, floats, and certificates

More information:

In a smaller operation, the GSA will also work as the SWB and reservations agent. In larger locations you may have specialized GSAs for members or those staying on a concierge level floor.

If you are looking for a role as a GSA you will need to be able to speak, read, write the primary language of the area, and having completed a high school education. You will benefit from having previous experience in a hotel, and higher-level education. Soft skills are more valuable than hard skills when applying for a GSA position. Expect to be standing your entire shift, and to be talking the entire day.

 

 Guest Service Supervisors and Duty Managers

 The GSS is one step up from the GSA. This is a great entry supervisory role, which has potential to show if you have the skills required to be a leader or not. One of the GSS’s biggest focus is ensuring the GSA team is set up for success. They will resolve more serious guest issues and motivate their team to achieve specific daily targets. The GSS can also be the DM for the hotel during their shift. The duty manager is responsible for all aspects of the hotel. If there is a fire, emergency or a department is being bogged down, the DM will assist and resolve. Skills you gain and show as a GSS or DM include:

Common duties:

  1. All the duties of a GSA when no GSA is available/staffed
  2. Ensure lobby has a warm and welcoming presence
  3. Meet and greet all VIP arrivals, making sure all their needs are met
  4. Work with A/FOM regarding oversell strategies for the day
  5. Resolve guest complaints
  6. Promote hotel guidelines, policies, and procedures
  7. Follow up and coach team members
  8. Training of new and current staff
  9. Check credit reports
  10. Responds to social media feedback regarding the front office

The skills you gain from this role are:

  • Entry leadership/management, you oversee the daily operations team during your shift and you work interdepartmentally ensuring overall success
  • Training, you will be responsible for training the GSA, SWB, and RC team members
  • Conflict resolution, dealing with more sever problems, you will be able to resolve harsher issues and conflicts
  • Technical skill, as you delve more into the role you will learn more advanced applications of the hotel operation software

More information:

The role of GSS and DM is very demanding. You are constantly being pulled left and right and helping every department in the hotel. You have huge impact on guests and their experiences. If you are looking to move up or into the role of a GSS or DM you will need experience at the front office of a hotel. You will greatly benefit from having a certificate or diploma in a hospitality field.

 

Night Auditor + Night manager

A night auditor does the same work as a GSA however work over nights. The night manager will cover the same responsibilities as a GSM – but for the overnight team. Some hotels do not have a Night manager and all the work will be placed on a single Night auditor.

Because the demand for check ins and check outs is significantly lower, they are tasked with increased accounting-based duties. If the hotel property has additional revenue sources, such as restaurants, spa, etc. they night audit will sort the receipts based off the transaction type and prepare it for the accounting team. The night audit team will also ensure that the morning team is set up for any special requests, or payments requirements. They reconcile expenses to ensure guests are billed correctly.

Common duties:

  1. Receive pass-on information from the afternoon team about the day’s event
  2. Check in any remaining guests yet to arrive
  3. Sort and compile hotel credit, debit, and room charges
  4. Printing shift reports
  5. Closing master accounts
  6. Ensure all GSA’s till accounts balance – often automated though the property management system
  7. Create morning daily information report
  8. Prepares and completes end of day
  9. Provide Wake-up calls

The skills you gain from this role are:

  • Customer service, from your constant interactions with guests and passersby
  • Sales, when making upsells and selling commissionable activities
  • Problem resolution, situations will occur where you are responsible for the outcome
  • Financial skills, you are working with payments, floats, and certificates. You’ll have direct impact on hotel analytics and reporting
  • Decision making, often working with a skeleton crew you are empowered to make decisions which you will be responsible for

More information:

The specifics for this role can change greatly based of the size of the operation. If you are in a small than 100 room hotel it is unlikely that there will be a night manager and night auditor. In hotels of 300+ rooms you are almost assured both roles are to be staffed.

If you are looking to become a Night auditor or Night manager you will be expected to have front desk experience, with a knowledge in accounting. You must also be able to speak, read, write the primary language of the area, and having completed a high school education. Unlike GSA the hard skills are highly values here over soft skills.

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GetIntoHospitality

With over 20 years of customer service expertise, I hope to share what the world of hospitality, service, and tourism is with those looking to enter the industry.

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