A large number of factors play a very important role in the choice of equipment to be kept or installed in the front office of a hotel to carry out the day-to-day administration and management of the department. The factors include the system of operations prevailing in the front office, the size of the hotel, the level of automation, and the budget of the hotel. A big hotel having a high budget will definitely choose an automated front office with fully automated o computerized equipment. A biog hotel having a limited budget will opt for a semi-automated front office with semi-automated equipment. A small hotel with a limited budget will choose a non-automated system of front office operations with non-automated front office equipment.
Manual Equipment Used in Front Office Operations
- Room Rack: The room rack slip contained in the metallic pockets shows the types of the room the occupancy status of the guestroom and the name of the guest registered in the guestroom. The current occupancy status of the guestrooms is indicated by the colored strips inserted in the pockets of the room rack. It is the joint effort of the front desk and housekeeping to timely update the room rack to have an accurate room status position.
- Information Rack: The information rack is another important device positioned at the front desk and used by the front desk agent to track the various in-house guests of the hotel. The information is a revolving device that contains information about the various guests presently registered in the hotel with the name of the guests alphabetically arranged in the rack and the information taken from the upper portion of the folios of the guests. The information contained in the information rack is the name of the guests, number and type of room occupied, rate of the guestroom, date of arrival and departure, and the billing instructions.
- Mail And Message Rack: The mail and message rack is a wooden framework containing an array of pigeonholes with each pigeonhole used to store the various emails and messages received for an in-hotel guest. Previously, the mail and message rack used to contain the keys of the guestroom in the pigeonholes and was thus called the mail, message, and key rack. But nowadays, the mail rack has been isolated from the key rack and has been moved behind scenes to present a more professional appearance and at the same time ensuring the security of the emails and messages of the guests of the hotel.
- Key rack or key Drawer: The key rack or the key drawer is important front office equipment located underneath the counter of the front desk. The key rack as the name suggests is a wooden or metallic framework containing an array of slots used for keeping the keys of the guestroom in sequential order of the guestroom present in the hotel. This rack is maintained by the front desk in hotels, where metal or hard keys are used, and is thus essential front desk equipment for such hotels.
- Folio well or Folio Bucket: A folio well or folio bucket is also an important piece of equipment used in the front desk cash section. This equipment contains a large number of slots where the folios are arranged sequentially according to the room number. The folio well is used by the front office cashier to store and track the folio of the various registered guests of the hotel and is used to maintain the folios safely for future use and reference.
List of Semi-automated Equipment Used in Front Office Operations
- Cash Register: The posting machine is generally used to calculate the totals of the guest accounts, department, and transactions. The cash register is semi-automated equipment used optionally by the front desk. The cash register is generally used by the front desk to record the various sales of sundries at the front desk such as stamps, newspapers, candy, etc. The various required mechanical features present in the cash register include a keypad, category key, and amount entering the key.
- Wake-up Devices: The wake-up device is a very important device used by the front desk or the telephone exchange of non-automated or semi-automated hotels to remind the staff to wake up the guests at the requested times. The most famous and common wake-up device is known as the James Remindo Timer which is an alarm clock with pull-out pins. Many hotels also use a simple alarm clock to awaking the guests. The guests’ requests for wake-ups are recorded in an awake- sheet with the information of the time, room number, and name of the guest. In fully automated systems, the telephones exchange automatically places the various requests of the guests for wake-up calls by automatic – voice – recorded wake- up messages. These features of great help when many guests have to be woken up at the same times in the hotel.