The ﬁrst step in the guest registration process begins with capturing guest data such as name, address, zip code, length of stay, and company afﬁliation, which are needed during his or her stay and after departure. Various departments in the hotel require this information to provide service to the guest. The registration process continues with the extension of credit, room selection, room rate application, the opportunity to sell hotel services, room key assignment, and folio processing. Continually efﬁcient performance of the registration process is essential to ensuring hospitality for all guests and proﬁtability for the hotel.
Importance of the First Guest Contact
The ﬁrst impression a guest receives of a lodging facility during registration is extremely important in setting the tone for hospitality and establishing a continuing business relationship. The guest who is warmly welcomed with a sincere greeting will respond positively to the hotel and will expect similar hospitality from other hotel employees. If the guest receives a half-hearted welcome, he or she will not be enthusiastic about the lodging facility and will be more likely to ﬁnd fault with the hotel during his or her visit. Today’s guest expects to be treated with respect and concern, and many hotels make the effort to meet those expectations—those that do not should not expect the guest to return.
What constitutes a warm welcome of hospitality? This varies from employee to employee. It begins with the employee’s empathizing with the feelings of the traveler, some- one who has been away from familiar surroundings for many hours or many days. He or she may be stressed by the frustrations of commercial travel, delayed schedules, lost luggage, jet lag, missed meals, unfamiliar surroundings, unclear directions, or unfamiliar public transportation. The hotel employee who is considerate of the traveler under these circumstances will be more likely to recognize anxiety, restlessness, and hostility and respond to them in a positive, understanding manner.
A typical scenario might be as follows: Mr. Traveler arrives at 9:15a.m. at the registration desk of a hotel. He is visibly upset because he is late for a very important presentation to a group of investors. He wants to get into his room, drop off his luggage, and get public transportation to the corporate center. The desk clerk knows there are no clean rooms available at this time. The desk clerk rings for a bellhop to escort Mr. Traveler to the luggage storage area. When the bellhop arrives, the desk clerk relates Mr. Traveler’s situation. The bellhop calls the doorman to obtain a taxi, gives Mr. Traveler a receipt for his luggage, and then escorts him to the main entrance of the hotel. Then he takes Mr. Traveler’s luggage to the storage area. These few time-saving practices allow Mr. Traveler to arrive at the presentation within a reasonable amount of time. When Mr. Traveler returns to the hotel later that day, he expresses his appreciation to the desk clerk on duty. The stage has been set for an enjoyable, hospitable stay.
However, the situation could have gone like this: When Mr. Traveler arrives, the desk clerk tells him, “Checkout time is not until 12 noon, and we don’t have any rooms available yet. Check back with us after 4:00p.m.” Mr. Traveler searches for the luggage room, drops off his luggage (losing minutes because of a long line), manages to ﬁnd his way back out to the main entrance, and asks the doorman to hail a cab (losing another ten minutes because it is rush hour). Mr. Traveler arrives late for the presentation because of the delay at the hotel and heavy trafﬁc. Because Mr. Traveler is unaware of the avail- ability of other room accommodations in the area, he returns after the presentation and waits in the hotel’s lobby or lounge until 4:00p.m. This time, the stage is set for an unpleasant visit. Mr. Traveler will probably choose another hotel the next time he has business in the area.
These two scenarios are repeated frequently in the hospitality industry. The latter, too often the norm, gives rise to discussions of overpriced accommodations and unfriendly and unhelpful hotel staff. A system must be in place to ensure that all travelers are ex- tended hospitality as a standard operating procedure. The ﬁrst guest contact is too essential to the delivery of a well-managed guest stay to leave it to the personal discretion of an individual.
Components of the Registration Process
The registration process is one of the many points of interaction with the guest and ultimately the cornerstone of delivering service before, during, and after the guest stay. Early in this section, we discuss the importance of capturing guest data that is conﬁrmed from the previous reservation process or initiated with a walk-in guest. While guests are in our care, we can communicate with them, maintain an accurate accounting record, and later on respond to any inquiries with regard to ﬁnancial concerns or follow up on service.
The registration process follows a rather succinct procedure of offering guest hospitality, retrieving a reservation, reviewing the registration card for completeness, extending credit, selecting a room to meet the needs of the guest, checking room status, conﬁrming room rates, promoting additional room sales, assigning room keys, and processing the guest folio. All these steps occur within the space of several minutes, but the organization behind the scenes of the registration process is essential. Let’s take a look at how the hotel operational policies and procedures are developed to support the ease of a smooth registration process.