Marketing and Sales Department
The marketing and sales department relies on the front ofﬁce to provide data on guest histories, details concerning each guest’s visit. Some of the information gathered is based on zip code, frequency of visits, corporate affiliation, special needs, and reservations for sleeping rooms. It is also the front ofﬁce’s job to make a good ﬁrst impression on the public, to relay messages, and to meet the requests of guests who are using the hotel for meetings, seminars, and banquets.
The guest history is a valuable resource for marketing and sales, which uses the guest registration information to target marketing campaigns, develop promotions, prepare mailing labels, and select appropriate advertising media. The front ofﬁce staff must make every effort to keep this database current and accurate.
The process of completing the booking of a special function (such as a wedding reception, convention, or seminar) depends on the availability of sleeping rooms for guests. The marketing and sales executives may have to check the lists of available rooms three, six, or even twelve months in the future to be sure the hotel can accommodate the expected number of guests. A database of available rooms is maintained in the property management system by the front ofﬁce.
The ﬁrst guest contact with the marketing and sales department is usually through the hotel’s switchboard. A competent switchboard operator who is friendly and knowledge- able about hotel operations and personnel will make a good ﬁrst impression, conveying to the prospective client that this hotel is competent. When the guest ﬁnally arrives for the function, the ﬁrst contact with the hotel is usually through the front ofﬁce staff. The front ofﬁce manager who makes the effort to determine which banquet supervisor is in charge and communicates that information to the desk clerk on duty demonstrates to the public that this hotel is dedicated to providing hospitality.
Messages for the marketing and sales department must be relayed completely, accurately, and quickly. The switchboard operator is a vital link in the communication between the prospective client and a salesperson in the marketing and sales department. The front ofﬁce manager should instruct all new personnel in the front ofﬁce about the staff in the marketing and sales department and what each person’s job entails (this applies to all departments in the hotel, not just marketing and sales). Front ofﬁce employees should know how to pronounce the names of all marketing and sales employees. To help front ofﬁce staff become familiar with all these people, managers should show new employees pictures of the department directors and supervisors. Requests for service at meetings, seminars, banquets, and the like are often made at the front ofﬁce. The banquet manager, a person who is responsible for fulfilling the details of service for a banquet or special event, or sales associate, a person who books the guest’s requirements for banquets and other special events, might be busy with another function. If a guest needs an extension cord or an electrical outlet malfunctions, the front desk staff must be ready to meet the guest’s needs. The front ofﬁce manager should establish standard operating procedures for the front ofﬁce employees to contact maintenance, house- keeping, marketing and sales, or the food and beverage department to meet other common requests. Knowing how to ﬁnd a small tool kit, adapters, adhesive materials, extra table covers, or window cleaner will help the guest and will save the time involved in tracking down the salesperson in charge.
Housekeeping and the front ofﬁce communicate with each other about housekeeping room status, the report on the availability of the rooms for immediate guest occupancy. Housekeeping room status can be described in the following communication terms:
• Available Clean, or Ready—room is ready to be occupied • Occupied—guest or guests are already occupying a room • Stayover—guest will not be checking out of a room on the current day • Dirty or On-Change—guest has checked out of the room, but the housekeeping staff has not released the room for occupancy • Out-of-Order—room is not available for occupancy because of a mechanical malfunction
Housekeeping and the front ofﬁce also communicate on the details of potential house count (a report of the number of guests registered in the hotel), security concerns, and requests for amenities (personal toiletry items such as shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, and electrical equipment). These issues are of immediate concern to the guest as well as to supervisors in the hotel.
Reporting of room status is handled on a face-to-face basis in a hotel that does not use a property management system (PMS). The bihourly or hourly visits of the house- keeper to the front desk clerk are a familiar scene in such a hotel. The ofﬁcial reporting of room status at the end of the day is accomplished with a housekeeper’s room report—a report prepared by the housekeeper that lists the guest room occupancy status as vacant, occupied, or out-of-order. Sometimes even regular reporting of room status is not adequate, as guests may be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to occupy a room. On these occasions, the front desk clerk will have to telephone the ﬂoor supervisor to determine when the servicing of a room will be completed.
The housekeeper relies on the room sales projections—a weekly report prepared and distributed by the front ofﬁce manager that indicates the number of departures, arrivals, walk-ins, stayovers, and no-shows—to schedule employees. Timely distribution of the room sales projections assists the executive housekeeper in planning employee personal leaves and vacation days.
The front desk also relies on housekeeping personnel to report any unusual circumstances that may indicate a violation of security for the guests. For example, if a maid or houseman notices obviously non-registered guests on a ﬂoor, a ﬁre exit that has been propped open, or sounds of a domestic disturbance in a guest room, he or she must report these potential security violations to the front ofﬁce. The front ofﬁce staff, in turn, will relay the problem to the proper in-house or civil authority. The front ofﬁce manager may want to direct the front desk clerks and switchboard operators to call ﬂoor supervisors on a regular basis to check activity on the guest ﬂoors.
Guest requests for additional or special amenities and guest room supplies may be initiated at the front desk. The prompt relay of requests for extra blankets, towels, soap, and shampoo to housekeeping is essential. This is hospitality at its best.