Front Desk Operations Tips for Hotel Staff Members

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
May 21, 2024
February 9, 2022
Front Desk Operations Tips for Hotel Staff Members

When running a hotel, your goal is to establish a good first impression with visitors from the minute they walk in the door, and this makes front desk operations crucial. If your hotel front desk doesn't run properly, you risk unfavorable reviews and financial loss. In such a highly visible guest-facing area, you should make every effort to enhance the guest experience at every interaction.

Whether in person or online, nearly every visitor who stays at your property will interact with front desk employees during their stay. This staff will likely handle guest issues as they arise, which makes the hotel front office system a vital component of the guest experience.

Front office operations are hectic, especially when you’re dealing with staff shortages. The more efficient the operation, the greater the staff's ability to address guest needs.

Below, we’ll identify exactly how your front office hotel staff responsibilities contribute to the property's overall success. We’ll also provide a few front desk tips for optimizing your operations and guest experience.

Essential Front Desk Duties for Hotel Staff Members: Before Guests Arrive

With extra time and attention on pre-arrival duties, the hotel front desk can ensure a positive traveler experience before guests arrive.

1. Provide Accurate Information About the Hotel

Before booking, many guests may call to ask questions about rooms, your location or specific amenities. Your front-facing staff should not only know this information, but relay it to guests kindly and professionally. Ensure your team has the resources they need to answer inquires about occupancy limits, bed size, handicap accessibility, pricing and room availability. A successful front desk staffer will also know about common tourist attractions in the area, the availability of nearby cafes suitable for remote work and family-friendly restaurants.

Pro tip: Learn about the local area.

As reservations come in, each team member should be able to recommend local stores, restaurants, leisure activities, and tourist sites. Go above and beyond arranging local reservations and give guests discounts and vouchers for local hotspots. Most customers enjoy these small gestures, and you'll be more likely to get their return business if you take the time to offer them.

Front Desk Operations

2. Manage Reservations and Room Assignments Efficiently

Whether guests book online or by phone, the front desk staff should collect the necessary information to process payment, assign rooms, and coordinate a seamless check-in.

Pro tip: Use Digital Authorizations.

If your property is still using paper to collect credit card authorization forms from guests, it’s important to note that this practice is no longer considered PCI compliant. Instead, modern hotels should have staff send easy-to-use digital authorization forms to customers that can securely collect credit card data.

Essential Front Desk Duties for Hotel Staff Members: The Guest Arrival

Optimizing arrivals is a vital component of streamlining your front office operation in hotels is optimizing the arrivals. Guests often arrive tired and frazzled, and your ability to check in guests smoothly can set the tone for the rest of their experience.

3. Streamline Check-in

One of the first things guests see when they walk into a hotel is the front desk, so train your staff to offer a warm greeting. The check-in process generally entails assigning a room (if one hasn’t been assigned already), explaining the layout of the hotel and on-property amenities and providing room keys.

At this stage, it’s also important to give guests the lay of the land. You could take them on a guided tour or hand over an informational resource that explains your breakfast hours and location, cleaning and laundry details, shuttle service times and more.

4. Ulitize Technology to Personalize the Stay

‍Software built for the front office can optimize the receptionist's workflow and even help the team deliver more personalized experiences. Guest management systems, for example, are powerful hotel technology tools that often combine several solutions, including payment systems, check-in and check-out and resesrvation tools.

A customer-focused solution like Canary’s Guest Experience Platform goes above and beyond to offer solutions that help enhance the guest stay, such as Contactless Check-In andCheckout, AI-powered uest Messaging and a Dynamic Upsells tool that enables guests to purchase add-ons and additional services throughout their guest journey. Guests access all these technologies through their mobile devices, allowing your staff to personalize stays with little to no extra effort.

Some Guest Management Systems are deployed via native apps, but most hoteliers prefer to use a web-based solution for a variety of reasons.

Essential Front Desk Duties for Hotel Staff Members: The In-Stay Stage

The front desk's responsibilities do not stop at check-in. It has a range of other responsibilities that are critical to a hotel’s operations.

5. Address Guest Complaints and Resolve Issues Professionally

As front-facing team members, it’s up to you to answer common guest questions, like “How long does breakfast go?” and "Can children use the Jacuzzi?" Instead of answering these questions repeatedly, you can leverage chatbots to communicate with your guests faster, including complaints.

Protip: Deploy a Guest Messaging solution at your hotel.

Using a preferred messaging app, guests can message back and forth with the hotel front desk. A chatbot can answer common questions instantly and tap in a human staff member for more complex situations. A good guest messaging solution will even enable you to broadcast messages to all of your guests at once to provide timely information on happenings at the property.

6. Coordinate With Other Hotel Departments

Front desk agents are also responsible for collaborating with other hotel staff. When guests request housekeeping, for example, the front office must be able to connect quickly and provide specific instructions to all team members.

Protip: Establish interdepartmental communication channels.

Whether it’s short-range radios, text messaging or an internal messaging solution, modern hoteliers need to ensure their staff can effectively communicate with other parts of the organization. Assigning dedicated communication channels is a solid way to ensure people receive the resources and support they need in a timely manner.

7. Maintain Updated Records of Bookings & Payments

Though customer service is a huge aspect of the front desk's operations and responsibilities, some bookkeeping duties also need attention. The front desk is responsible for keeping updated records of the bookings, the particular dates of those stays, the number of guests, and any other relevant information that will be needed for check-in and throughout their stay. Staff must also oversee payments and ensure that all information guests provide is accurate and is accepted. Making sure the office operation runs smoothly is of great importance.

Protip: Create a handoff plan for every shift change.

Have a binder or notebook where front desk employees can write notes or announcements for the next shift team. Be sure to include when the note was written and by whom. Write in the message afterward and include any other important information, such as the booking or room number.

Essential Front Desk Duties for Hotel Staff Members: The Guest Departure

What makes the front desk unique is it is a touchpoint with the hotel that guests may engage at any point in their journey — from the moment they check-in to the time they checkout.

At checkout — the final instance in which a guest may interact with front desk staff directly — there are fewer responsibilities than during the other stages of the guest journey. However, this doesn’t make them any less significant.

8. Handle Checkout and Encourage Further Engagement

On their way out the door, many guests will come to the front desk to drop off their key and formally check out. Though this is a fairly straightforward interaction with guests, it is an important one. For one, checkout often triggers actions from housekeeping to turnover the room, so it’s important for the hotel front desk to maintain accurate records at this stage..

Protip: Use Contactless Checkout to learn when guests have left in real-time.

Contactless Checkout solutions enable guests to check out from anywhere, at any time, directly from their mobile devices. This can erase the need for that final front desk visit, which frees up your staff to deal with guest arrivals, and provides hoteliers with an accurate portrayal of which rooms are free and which are not.

Guest checkout is also an opportunity to collect valuable guest feedback. Here, train your staff to further engage the guest by asking whether they enjoyed their stay and how you can improve for the next visit.

Make review collection part of the process, so your team can gather key insights that help you improve your processes across all touchpoints. If the guest is a repeat visitor, the front desk can invite them to join your loyalty club or invite them back for another stay during a holiday weekend.

Hotel Housekeeping guest interactions


The front desk team is invaluable to the overall hotel experience. As the middlemen between guests and all other hotel staff, a well-functioning front desk team will be able to quickly handle issues and address guest needs. Failing to meet visitors' expectations means risking negative reviews and lost revenue. Disorganization, impolite or unaccommodating staff, or a general lack of professionalism and panache can be a real turn-off to guests, leaving them annoyed, dissatisfied and unlikely to return.

Well-trained, warm and friendly staff will meet, and often exceed, the needs of a wide range of hotel guests. By wrapping the above tips into your front desk operations and responsibilities, you’re sure to drive outstanding experiences and reap the rewards in loyalty sign-ups and repeat visits.

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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