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Foundational procedures

As a Front Office Leader to ensure the success of your department, you would want to ensure that all foundational procedures and policies are implemented in the department.  To keep yourself organized and on track and most important to have records of actions (for legal matters) you would want to have checklists, that will help you manage your daily routine. Further, we will review core procedures that must happen at the desk. Following will not include guest experience component. It will be discussed in the different chapter.


Cash banks and cash handling

Accounting department (if you have one on property) typically will be in charge of cash, but you still hold direct responsibility for the banks at the desk and all cash transactions.

Surprise bank audits are an excellent way to monitor the accuracy of associate’s bank and will allow you to spot situations when a bank is being taken advantage of. The most important part is though, not only the audit process but a proper record of an audit. For a few reasons, if your department were audited (internally by Accounting department or external audit from Home/Corporate Office) in case of shortage, you would be able to show that proper audits are happening; therefore, you are doing your job, and you did not neglect the issue.

Cash transactions at the desk often can be confusing to our associates, especially when there are multiple transactions during the day when cash is being taken, deposits applied, paid-outs made, patty cash involved and etc. It is necessary to ensure that all associates are knowledgeable and comfortable with transactions. Having procedures posted on your information board will prevent many negative scenarios, as there will be a resource to go in case manager is busy and not around to help clarify why a bank is not balancing. So step by step instructions on how to resolve bank imbalances can save a lot of time for the Manager and prevent mistakes. Having procedures posted also protects you as a Manager in case associate decides to use an excuse and say he wasn’t aware of procedures.

Master Key Control

It is self-explanatory why key control is so important, but it is worth to discuss how exactly control should happen. Good key control can prevent many fatal situations as access to the master key box where you have all property keys can be extremely dangerous. Not only because the key can give you access to guest records, credit cards, inventory rooms but also to the guest rooms when your guests are most vulnerable.

You probably asked yourself why Front Office is in charge of the master keys? Well…probably because you don’t have 24h security and Front Office is the only 24h department at the property. Although, more and more properties are switching to electronic key boxes, due to the sensitivity of the issue.

However, if you don’t use an electronic box and you are in charge of a key box you would want to take every step to ensure safety and control are being obeyed. Lastly, this is also part of the audit that you might get audited on.


Here are few things that you need to ensure:


1.     You have a log where every time key is being taken there is a proper record

2.     You have a witness who recorded the transaction

3.     All keys are labeled, and an appropriate key number is used when taking/returning key

4.     Each key has corresponding “Return” line, and end of each shift keys are returned

5.     A person in charge has a master list of keys with explanations which key is for which lock

6.     A master list is not posted anywhere (primarily by a key box) therefore the person that doesn’t know what key is intended for will not be able to use

7.     Time is being recorded in the log when a key was taken and returned

8.     Keys not to be passed out to each other but have to be returned to the box and recorded correctly in the key box


It is necessary to follow the above-discussed steps not only to prevent situations but to be able to investigate properly when the incident took place already. Having everything in the format discussed will allow you to track major indicators such as when last time key was used, who witnessed, was it returned, who was the witness, what key number was signed out and many more that will help to resolve the incident.

Comp Rooms and Rooms with Zero Rates

You might say well, isn’t it the same thing? Yes and no. Depending on your property management system they might be different. The common element is that they are both complimentary; however, action to be taken might be different depending on the reason. Comp rooms mostly will be the ones approved by management, rooms with zero rates are often the ones that don’t have a rate due to technical errors, system mistakes, reservation glitches, etc. It is suggested to run this report on a daily basis and check all rooms that have a $0 rate. This will help you prevent revenue loss and keep control over reservations in case there are abnormalities.

Day Use Rooms

Rooms that are being rented for a few hours but not overnight. There are a few things you would want to ensure when it comes to day use rooms. First, what is your day use room procedures? How long day use room should be used for? Is it 5 hours, 6 hours or 9 hours?  Is it 9am to 5 pm or it is noon to 6 pm?

It is worth to look into this subject with Revenue and Housekeeping Manager, as far as you would want to ensure there are room attendants available to clean day use rooms, especially on sold-out nights. Set clear pricing on how much your day use rooms are with Revenue Manager.

Another part that you should be looking in to is a set procedure regarding charging day use rooms. Often, because the rate is not automatically running overnight rooms are not being charged at all…..


So to summarize here is what should happen:


  1. Ensure Front Office Team is fully aware of day use standards for your hotel such as hours and rate.

  2. Set procedures to when and how day use rooms will be charged. 

  3. Ensure day use rooms are being communicated to the Housekeeping Team, to prevent any guest privacy disruption also to help with schedule adjustments for room attendants.


Day use rooms can be a great tool to help maximize ADR if they are used correctly, but also they could become a concern if not configured adequately from an operations standpoint.


Room move report

You probably think why this even being mentioned and what is the urgency to look at this report.

The answer is every room move costs you money. You should be monitoring room move report in case of excessive room moves that can be caused by the guest or your associates, in both cases situation will need to be addressed. Moving a guest to the new room requires housekeeping to spend extra time in cleaning old room which decreases the productivity of the department.


You should monitor room move report for excessive room moves. This will help you to identify a few key points:


  1. You have a guest that is unhappy with rooms and you have seen his name on the report for last 3 days. Good to know information as you would want to take action and reach out to this guest.

  2. It appears the same associate is showing on the report all the time. Another good point to know as this is something that needs to be investigated. It looks like your associate doesn’t feel comfortable with searching for ways to assist guest and offers to move rooms first. You will need to look into more training in this case.

  3. You see a pattern and there are same room numbers that you recognize coming up often. Another reason for investigation and research in possible ways of eliminating room related issues.


Room Rate Change Report (Rate Variance)

The good news is when this report is blank. It is very rare when your rate change report shows an increase in rate; typically it will show a decrease. This report should be monitored and questioned for all rate changes. The report will display rate that was originally booked and the current rate (if it was modified). There are a few reasons why rate might be changed:


  1. Guest satisfaction. A decision was made by an associate to decrease room rate as service recovery.

  2. Corporate guests. Guest booked higher rate because the corporate rate wasn’t available and now attempts to receive the lower rate. This is a widespread case that can lead to projected revenue loss. Typically these guests will not be traveling alone, and you will need to make adjustments for several guests traveling together. It is necessary to educate Front Office Team on Last Room Availability Rates and Non Last Room availability Rates.  Ways to identify whether the rate is available or not available for the day, so they can determine the reason and adequately communicate to the guest.

  3. Technical issues. Guest has a confirmation page that shows rate is different then what you see in your system. Another area to research and understand why, as this could be a possible channel of revenue loss if you have inconsistencies in systems.


No Shows

Another important area where additional revenue can be collected. Depending on your property management system no show charges might get posted automatically or your Night Audit Team will be posting manually. Regardless, it is necessary to note that it is worth to check if charges were posted for the no shows (as often times form of payment may decline). It is necessary to check no show arrivals with cash payment. There are few concerns in this case. First, you should not have any reservations without form of payment and second, you would like to check who booked the reservation and address with involved parties.

Also, you would want to check for double charges. It is possible that guest arrived after night audit and has been charged for the no show already and also will be charged for the room night. In this case you are going to have double charge issue and authorization on the credit card for extra amount.


High Balance Report/ Credit Limit

This is one of the “must happen reports”. As previously discussed, role of Front Office Leader in overall property success is tremendous so do responsibilities. Look at it this way, every person who walks in the doors and walks out it is Front Office Responsibility to ensure proper payments are received for the stay.  Considering fact that there is no product/goods transaction during check in but rather it is pay after stay increases chance of not receiving payment from the guest.

Credit Report is highly valuable tool that can become your best friend in controlling this type of situations.

Typical credit report will show guest room number, name, amount authorized on card, amount used, and balance. It is necessary to ensure all associates are trained properly how to spot rooms that running out of authorized funds, how to apply authorizations and what to do when guest’s card declines for additional funds. In case of scenarios when guests’ card declines for additional funds next steps should be followed:


  1. Call to the guest room. Voicemail if no answer

  2. As shift progresses and there is no progress, guest should be locked out of room. To force guest come to Front Desk for new keys.

  3. Most important part happens here. Lack of communication at this step leads to one of the associates provide guest with new keys.

If you locked out guest from the room please ensure to communicate to entire team and also place appropriate comments, so when issuing new key it will be visible for associate to inquire for payment.

If for whatever reason your system, does not allow you to place comment, “Post it” notes on the bottom of the display (that’s where I like mines) will work as well. Do not indicate both room number and last name for security purposes. Please list only one of those.


Out of Order Rooms

Out of order rooms need to be discussed every day to ensure work progress is in place as well as plan for sold out nights. Having rooms out of orders can hurt you if you are projecting 100% occupancy not only from revenue stand point but also on your STAR report, by lowering your occupancy.



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