Hotels operate 24 hours a day. For this operation to be successful, departments must communicate and work together to provide quality customer service to the guests. What goes on behind the scenes should be invisible to hotel visitors, so they are ensured a pleasant stay and want to return on subsequent trips. Successful operation of a hotel business is all about putting heads in beds and providing a good experience.
The front desk is a hotel's lifeline. Front desk staff members greet potential guests on the phone and arriving guests upon check-in. They set the tone for the complete guest experience. The front desk needs to be staffed 24 hours a day, typically in three shifts. In addition to taking reservations and performing check ins and outs, a front desk clerk addresses guest issues, provides information and serves as a communication hub for other departments. Day shift personnel complete check outs, accept new reservations and coordinate with housekeeping to manage the inventory of clean and available rooms. Evening shift personnel perform check ins, answer phones and take the hotel into quiet time. The overnight staff typically run the daily audits and work closely with security to ensure all guests are in a safe environment.
The housekeeping department is an integral part of hotel operations. Cleanliness of both guest rooms and common areas is imperative if a hotel is to provide a pleasant experience. Upon checkout, a guest room must be thoroughly cleaned. All bedding and bathroom linens must be removed and replaced with clean ones. Bathrooms must be sanitized and carpeting vacuumed. If a guest stays over, the bed must be re-made, fresh linens provided and floors vacuumed. Common areas in a hotel must also be cleaned on a daily basis. Hallways should be vacuumed and public bathrooms cleaned and re-stocked. Workout rooms, pool areas, meeting rooms and other areas should all be attended to as needed. At least once a quarter, heavy duty cleaning should be performed including laundering bedding, washing windows, turning mattresses, polishing floors and shampooing carpets.
Most hotels provide some type of food and beverage, whether it is a full-service restaurant or a simple continental breakfast. A kitchen manager or chef creates menus and oversees the ordering, preparation and delivery of food. Depending on the extent of the restaurant operation, other staff may include sous chefs, prep cooks and dishwashers. A restaurant manager is responsible to hire, train and schedule appropriate wait staff. If the hotel also offers wedding and conference services, banquet sales and operations managers handle the bookings and manage the flow of the event.
Hotels have many working parts that require on-going maintenance and repair. Depending on the size of the building, one or more full-time maintenance mechanics should be on staff. Expertise in plumbing, electrical and other mechanical issues is needed. The maintenance staff may also be responsible for the hotel grounds including landscaping, cleaning parking lots, snow removal and operation of outdoor pools and spas.
While the front desk may book reservations, marketing the property is necessary to drive business. A website is a necessity and should offer an on-line booking option. Many properties align with larger travel websites that offer booking opportunities. Hospitality trade shows allow properties to display their services such as weddings, conferences, golf packages, family vacation packages and any other specialty markets.