A reservation is an important front office function because a majority of hotel guests make reservations in advance of their stay.
The reservations process often involves the important first contact between the guest and the hotel. A reservations assistant must be able to respond quickly and accurately to requests for future accommodations. Thus, the volume of paperwork, filing, and other clerical procedures associated with the reservations process should be held to a minimum. Efficient procedures will allow the reservations agent more time for attention to detail and greater opportunity to market various hotel services when appropriate. An effective reservations process depends on set procedures for handling requests, updating information, and generating confirmations.
Processing reservations involves matching room requests with room availability; recording, confirming, and maintaining reservations; and producing management reports. Regardless of the type of equipment used to support the process, reservation information is especially useful in subsequent front office functions. For example, room and rate assignments, guest accounts, and guest history files can be created from the information obtained during the reservations process. Perhaps the most important outcome of a reservation, however, is having the room avail- able when the guest arrives. The success of the process depends on effective reservations management. The following sections describe typical activities associated with the reservations process. These activities include:
· Reservation inquiry
· Determination of availability
· Creation of the reservation record
· Confirmation of the reservation
· Maintenance of the reservation record
· Production of reservation reports
Types of Reservations
A brief discussion of the major types of reservations will clarify some important distinctions.
The hotel assures a guest with a guaranteed reservation that a room will be held for him or her until check-out time of the day following the day of arrival. In return, the guest guarantees payment for the room, even if it is not used, unless the reservation is canceled in accordance with the hotel's cancellation procedures. The term no-show refers to a guest who made a room reservation but did not use it or cancel it. Guaranteed reservations protect the hotel's revenues even in the case of a no- show. Variations of guaranteed reservations include:
A prepayment guaranteed reservation requires a payment in full made before the day of arrival. From the perspective of the front office, this form of reservation guarantee is generally the most desirable.
Major credit card companies have developed systems to guarantee participating properties payment for reserved rooms that re- main unoccupied. Unless a credit card guaranteed reservation is properly canceled before a stated cancellation hour, the lodging property will post the charge to the guest's credit card account and the card company will subsequently bill the card holder. This is the most common method of reservation guarantee.
An advance deposit guaranteed reservation (or partial prepayment) requires the guest to furnish a specified amount of money I in advance of arrival. The deposit is typically large enough to cover one night’s lodging plus taxes, but may be larger if the reservation is for a longer stay. Should a guest holding an advance deposit reservation fail to show or cancel, the hotel may choose to retain the deposit and cancel the reservation for the entire stay.
Although travel agent guaranteed reservations were quite popular before the 1980s, they are becoming less common since both travel agents and hotels tend to prefer credit card or deposit guarantees when possible. Under this guarantee method, the hotel generally bills the travel agency after a guaranteed reservation has been classified a no- show.
A corporation may sign a contractual agreement with the hotel in which it agrees to accept financial responsibility for any no-show business travelers it sponsors. The use of corporate contracts is often popular in hotels with large transient markets.
Non- Guaranteed Reservations
In the case of a non-guaranteed reservation, the hotel agrees to hold a room for the guest until a stated reservation cancellation hour, usually 6:00 p.m., on the day of arrival. The property is not guaranteed payment under this type of reservation. If the guest does not arrive by the cancellation hour, the hotel is free to release the room for other use; it is effectively added to the list of rooms available for sale. If the guest arrives after the cancellation hour and rooms remain available, the hotel will accommodate the guest. Hotels approaching full occupancy may choose to begin accepting only guaranteed reservations once a specified number of expected arrivals has been achieved. In full occupancy situations, the efficiency of the reservations process is especially critical.
Tentative / Provisional Reservation
Provisional reservation is done when a request from prospective guest is received for some future day arrival and the hotel blocks the room for this guest, provisionally in the hotel records such as charts and diaries and racks or computer and sends a letter of offer to the prospective guest. The offer has a cut off date by which the guest should send his confirmation which may be in the form of a letter, guarantee by company, credit card or deposit whichever the hotel may request. Once the confirmation from the guest is received by the hotel within the cut off date, the hotel makes the tentative booking into confirmed booking. Otherwise the tentative booking is cancelled and the records updated.
A reservation request can be received in person, over the telephone, in the mail, through a central reservation system, or through an intersell agency connection. Regardless of its origin, the request is formulated as a reservation inquiry by the reservations agent. This inquiry typically collects the following information about the guest's proposed stay:
· Date of arrival
· Date of departure (length of stay)
· Type and number of rooms requested
· Room rate code (standard, special, package, etc.)
· Number of persons in party
The agent enters these data onto a reservation form or computer terminal according to clearly defined procedures. Reservations can be made for individuals, groups, tours, or conventions. A guest coming to the hotel as an individual and not part of a group is called a free independent traveler, or FIT. Persons coming to the hotel as part of a group may be handled according to different procedures than FIT guests. For example, reservations for group members may be filed under the group's name rather than the guests' individual names.
Sources of Reservations
There are various reservation market sources within the hospitality industry. The three most common sources of reservation transactions are central reservation systems, intersell agencies, and property direct reservations. Hotels may experience large volumes of reservation transactions as a result of supporting a variety of reservation alternatives. The inter relationships are especially important to high reservation volume properties.
Central Reservation Systems
More than two-thirds of lodging properties belong to one or more central reservation systems. Industry-wide, over one-quarter of all reservation transactions use central reservation systems, There are two basic types of central reservation systems:
· Affiliate networks
· Non-affiliate networks
An affiliate reservation network is a hotel chain's reservation system in which all participating properties are contractually related. Chain hotels link their operations to streamline the processing of reservations and reduce overall system costs. Affiliate reservation networks may also allow non-chain properties to join the system as overflow facilities. Over- flow facilities receive reservation requests only after all room availabilities in chain properties within a geographic area have been exhausted.
A non-affiliate reservation network is a subscription system de- signed to connect independent (non-chain) properties. Non-affiliate reservation networks enable independent hotel operators to enjoy many of the same benefits as chain-affiliated operators. Like an affiliate reservation network, a non-affiliate network usually assumes responsibility for advertising its service.
A central reservation office typically deals directly with the public by means of a toll-free (1800) telephone number. Most large lodging chains actually support two or more reservation centers, with calls being directed to the center nearest the caller. Reservation centers often operate around the clock and at peak times may have as many as several hundred agents on duty at one time. Central reservation offices typically need to exchange room availability information and process reservation transactions with member properties at regularly scheduled intervals. Many central reservation systems use computers to connect the central system office with member properties. Some reservation systems also place telephone calls directly to destination properties to further ensure successful communication. Central reservation systems normally provide participating properties with necessary communications equipment and bill the properties for reservation transactions the systems handle. In turn, each property must provide accurate and current room availability data to the central reservation office. Without such data, the central reservation office cannot effectively handle the reservations process.
Affiliate and non-affiliate networks often perform a variety of services in addition to managing reservations processing and communications. A central reservation system may also serve as an inter-property communications network, an accounting transfer system, or a destination information center. For instance, a central reservation system is used as an accounting transfer system when a chain hotel communicates operating data to company headquarters for processing. A central reservation system may operate as a destination information center by serving as a communications channel for local weather, special events, and seasonal room rate reports.
Main modules those are present in a CRS:
· Rate and Inventory Control
· Global Distribution Interface
· PMS Interface
Information commonly stored in a CRS:
· Room Rates
· Room Allotments
· Room Types
· Room availability
· Generic hotel information (address, phone number, fax number)
· Reservation information
· Geocode information
· Nearby IATA cities and airports
· On-site or nearby restaurants, bars, attractions, and recreational activities
· Room and hotel features
· Hotel cancellation record
An intersell agency is a central reservation system that contracts to handle more than one product line. Intersell agencies typically handle reservation services for airline companies, car rental companies, and hotel properties-a "one call does it all" approach. Although intersell agencies typically channel their room reservation re- quests to a central reservation system, they may also be able to communicate directly with individual destination properties. The fact that a hotel participates in an intersell arrangement does not preclude its also being a part of a central reservation system.
Hotels handle over 40% of their reservation transactions directly in addition to those reservations received through central reservation systems and intersell agencies. Depending on the volume of direct customer contact at a property, the hotel may staff its own reservation department. This department is responsible for handling all direct requests for accommodations, monitoring the communications links with central reservation systems and intersell agencies (if any), and maintaining updated room availability status reports.
There are several possible communication methods for handling property-direct reservation requests:
· Telephone: Customers may telephone the hotel directly.
· Mail: Written requests for reservations are common for group, tour, and convention business. Mail requests are generally sent directly to the reservation department. of the destination property.
· Property-to-property: Chain hotel properties typically encourage customers to plan their stays ahead of time by offering direct, communications between affiliated properties. This approach can significantly increase the overall number of reservations.
· Telex, cable, and other: Telex is often used to communicate inter- national reservation requests. Cable and other methods of communication tend to account for a small proportion of total reservation transactions
Group reservations can involve a variety of contacts: meeting planners, housing or convention bureaus, tour operators, and travel agents. Group reservations typically involve intermediary agents and require special care. Usually when a group selects a hotel,its representative deals with the hotel's sales division. If space is available, an agreed-upon number of rooms, called a block, is set aside for the group's members. As reservations are received from group members, they are applied against the rooms held in the group's block, thereby reducing the number of rooms available within the block. Rooms reserved for specific guests are referred to as booked; hence, as group members reserve rooms, their status changes from blocked to booked.
Once inquiry data are received, they are compared to previously processed reservations to determine the availability of remaining accommodations Processing a reservation request results in one of several responses. These responses include:
· Acceptance of the reservation as requested
· Suggestions of alternative room types and/or rates
· Suggestions of alternative hotel properties,
In any reservation system, it is necessary to keep a close check on reservations to avoid overbooking-that is, accepting reservations that outnumber available rooms .A hotel may certainly try to book for a full house, but avoiding overbooking makes good business sense in several, ways: Most important, it helps maintain good customer relations and encourages repeat business. In addition, hotels may be subject to law- suit when they fail to furnish agreed-upon accommodations. To avoid overbooking, hotels must monitor room availability through reservations coordination. A reservations control book, wall chart, computerized sys- tem, or some other control device must be established and maintained.
A reservations control book is usually a standard three-ring, loose- leaf binder with a tally page for each day of the year. Control books are used in non-computerized hotels.
The reservations control book must be updated as the hotel receives notification of cancellations or changes in reservations. A property may choose to make initial control book entries in pencil so they can be changed as needed; if initial entries are made in pen, a different color pen should be used to record cancellations or changes. The use of a second, color helps the hotel maintain a history of changes in control book transactions.
Another control technique uses a procedure developed and copyrighted by Dallett Jones. A specially designed reservations wall chart displays hotel rooms vertically and days of the month horizontally. Non-computerized hotels build customized wall charts by entering appropriate room numbers, rates, and codes. Different colors of ink are often used to differentiate room types. When accommodations are requested, the chart is checked for availability based on the guest date of arrival, length of stay, and type of room. If space is available, the reservations agent can assign the guest a specific room by taping over the line that represents that room. The tape extends from the day of arrival to the day of departure. Hotels may also record the guest's name on the tape.
Once all reservations are charted, vacant spaces represent the exact dates when specific rooms are available. The wall chart technique allows available space to be determined at a glance, and eliminates the need for erasures and rewriting associated with control book monitoring. When a reservation change is necessary, the reservations agent simply moves the tape to another space. In the case of a cancellation, the tape is removed entirely. Reservations wall charts are also called reservations density charts.
Control book is used in non-computerized hotels.
It is a standard three-ring, loose leaf binder. On each page the hotel’s rooms and suites of rooms are divided into categories and each room is assigned a number.
Booking Diary System
Disadvantages of booking diary:
Bulky and not movable, so all records are confined to one place and cannot be moved to various places in case of references.
Since it is constantly handled with person or another there is every possibility of getting dirty or pages getting torn.
Cancellation and amendments makes other pages in the diary dirty and creates lots of confusion and problems.
Not suitable & practical for hotels with lot of transit guests or where the stay of the guest is short.
Cants be maintained in alphabetical order.
Its time consuming and difficult to know the status of the guest and room at a glance.
Advantages of Booking Diary:
This system is useful for small hotels and resorts.
It provides the record of reservation for each day in a consolidated form or page and does not involve transfer of information to another slip or page.
It provides information for a specific length of time at a page and the reservation list does not require reference to various records in case they want information for various places.
It is to store and maintain.
It is useful for hotels where the duration of stay of the guest is for a longer period.
Advance Letting Chart
It tells us about the bookings, available position of all the rooms in the hotel, about their room numbers and their location. The chart covers one calendar month and dates of this chart is clearly marked on the top with the room numbers and description on the side.
The chart gives a clear vision as to how the business is shaping for the future. But advance letting chart does not have any space for doing overbooking and this limits the chart from being used in big hotels. This is why, these charts is not very effective.
It is used for determining the availability of all the guestrooms of the hotel and is used for reservation applications in medium and large hotel using non- automated system of reservation.
Also maintained on a monthly basis.
Have spaces of overbooking.
Grouping of rooms are done on the basis of their types.
Better options than ALC.
Whitney System Computerized System.
It is comparatively a new method of reservation in Indian hotel, as more efficient than ALC, Density chart, Reservation Charts.
An in-house computerized reservation system can keep close track of Systems reservations. In addition to tightly controlling room availability data, computer systems are capable of automatically generating many reservation-related reports. This report also projects estimated revenue based on reported reservation information. Reports summarizing reservations by room type, guest profile, and many other characteristics are also available.
Once all rooms in a specific category are sold, the computer can be programmed to refuse to accept any further reservations in that category. The computer screen may display an informative message such as: The, category of rooms requested is not available. Some systems are designed to i suggest alternative room types or rates, or even other nearby hotel properties. Computers can be programmed to itemize room availability for future periods, or display open, closed, and special event dates for an extended period of time. The computer can store reservations made for the distant future until the reservations agent requests them, and is also capable of automatically creating waiting lists for high-demand periods and effectively processing group reservations
The Reservation Record
The reservation agent creates a reservation record as a result of guest interaction, an act that initiates the hotel guest cycle. Reservation record identify guest and their anticipated occupancy needs before arrival at the property. In addition, they enable the hotel to personalize guest service and appropriately schedule needed staff. Data contained in a reservation record can also be instrumental in generating several important management reports.
Only after a reservation request has been matched with room availability data does the reservation agent create a reservation record. The agent collects and enters such necessary data as:
· Guest name (and group name)
· Home address
· Telephone number, including area code
· Name, address, and telephone number of the guest's employer, if appropriate
· Name of and pertinent information about the person making the reservation, if not the guest
· Number of people in the party, perhaps with ages of any children . Expected time of arrival
· Reservation type (guaranteed, non-guaranteed)
· Special requirements (infant, handicapper, or no-smoking accommodations)
· Additional information as needed(method of transportation, flight number, room preference, etc.
If the guest plans to arrive after the hotel's normal reservation cancellation hour, the reservations agent can recite the property's policy on non- guaranteed reservations. Once the agent has recorded the necessary in- formation, some hotels immediately assign the guest a reservation confirmation number, which provides a unique reference to the reservation record.
Reservations agents will need to obtain additional information for guaranteed reservations. Depending on the method of guarantee, an agent may be required to obtain one of the following:
· Credit card information: The credit card type, number, and expiration date, and the cardholder's name. A cancellation bulletin-listing numbers of invalid and expired cards-or a computer verification service should be consulted to make certain the credit card is valid. Some computerized reservation systems perform credit card verification automatically.
· Prepayment or deposit information: An agreement from the client that a required deposit will be received at the hotel before a specified date. A proposed advance deposit or prepayment guarantee should be closely monitored to make certain the correct amount is paid by the designated date; if it is not, the reservation may need to be canceled or reclassified as non-guaranteed.
· Corporate or travel agency account information: The name and address of the booking company, the name of the person making the reservation, and the client's corporate or travel agency ac- count number as assigned by the hotel. To facilitate a more efficient process, the hotel may provide reservations agents with a list of approved corporate and travel agency account numbers for verification during the reservation transaction.
Reservations agents should review with the guest the important aspects of guaranteeing a reservation. Guests must be aware that their accommodations will be held until check-out time the day following their scheduled arrival, and that failure to cancel before a. specified time could lead to forfeiture of the deposit or a charge against the guarantee.
Individual properties and chains may differ in their policies on quoting and confirming room rates during the creation of a reservation record. Although published rates may be subject to change without notice, a rate quoted and confirmed during the reservations process should be honored. Reservations agents should be aware of several considerations when quoting rates during the reservation record process, including:
· Supplementary charges for extra services or amenities
· Minimum stay requirements in effect for the dates requested, if any
· Special promotions in effect for the dates requested, if any
· Applicable foreign currency exchange rates, if quoting rates to a foreign traveler
· Applicable room tax percentages
A reservation confirmation allows the hotel to verify a guest's room request and personal information by telephoning or mailing a letter of confirmation. A written confirmation, which the guest is expected to produce at registration, states the intent of both parties and confirms important points of agreement: dates, rate, type of accommodation, and number of guests. Confirmed reservations may be guaranteed or non- guaranteed.
Reservation departments normally generate letters of confirmation on the day the reservation request is received. Information can be retrieved from the reservation record and manually or electronically entered onto a specially designed form, such as the one shown in Exhibit 4.9. While there are probably as many confirmation letter formats as there are hotels, confirmation generally includes:
· Date and time of arrival
· Room type and rate
· Length of stay
· Number of persons in party
· Reservation classification: guaranteed or non-guaranteed
· Confirmation number
Depending on the nature of the reservation, a confirmation notice may also include a request for deposit or prepayment, or an update of the original reservation detailing reconfirmation, modification, or cancellation.
Confirmation/ Cancellation Numbers
As part of confirmation, central reservation systems and individual properties may assign a reservation confirmation number. A confirmation number assures the guest that a reservation record exists and can be especially useful to the hotel in referencing the appropriate reservation record for modification or cancellation, if needed. Similarly, hotels may issue a cancellation number to guests properly canceling a reservation.
The issuance of such a number protects both the guest and the hotel. In the event of any future misunderstanding, a cancellation number can provide proof that a cancellation was received. In the case of cancellation of a guaranteed reservation, having a cancellation number may well re- lieve the guest of responsibility for charges posted against the guarantee. For instance, without a cancellation number a guest may have trouble refuting a no-show billing made to his or her credit card account. Cancellation numbers are not normally assigned to guests who cancel their reservation after the hotel's stated cancellation hour.
Reservation systems typically devise unique methods of generating cancellation and confirmation numbers. These numbers can include the guest's arrival date, the reservations agent's initials, a property code, and other relevant information.
Cross-referencing all cancellation numbers by scheduled date of arrival can also help facilitate subsequent front office functions. Procedures for issuing cancellation numbers may be part of an established agreement between the hotel and a credit card company relative to no-show billing.
Even when care is taken during the reservations process, sometimes changes or cancellations in a reservation record are necessary. Efficient methods of file organization and file retrieval are critical. If a caller requests a reservation modification, for example, the reservations agent must be able to quickly access the correct record, verify its contents, and process the modification. Subsequent re-filing of the reservation record and updating of pertinent reservation reports should also be promptly handled.
Modifying Non-Guaranteed Reservation
Guests often make non-guaranteed rather than guaranteed reservation because they expect to arrive at the property before the reservation cancellation hour. Guest often change their reservations to guaranteed status when it becomes apparent that the arrival will be delayed
Reservations agents processing this status must take care to adhere to hotel policies.
Typical steps include the following:
1. Obtaining the guest's name and accessing the correct non-guar- anteed reservation record
2. Obtaining the guest's credit card type, number, and expiration date and the cardholder's name, and verifying the validity of the credit card
3. Assigning the guest anew reservation confirmation number
4. Completing the change from non-guaranteed to guaranteed reservation status according to additional property procedures, if any
Reservation Cancellation informs the hotel that a previously reserved room has become available to others, and helps the front office update its planning. Hotels should make cancellation easy and efficient. Cancellation, like any guest service, requires front office staff to be as polite, courteous, and effective as possible.
To cancel a non-guaranteed reservation, the .reservations agent should obtain the guest's name and address, number of reserved rooms, and proposed arrival and departure dates. This information will ensure that the correct reservation is accessed and canceled. After the cancellation is recorded, the caller may be asked whether he or she would like to make an alternate reservation.
Credit Card Guaranteed
Most credit card companies will support no- show billings only if the hotel issues cancellation numbers for properly canceled reservations. Reservations agents may follow a credit card guarantee cancellation procedure involving the following steps:
Obtain pertinent information-guest's name and address, number of rooms, proposed arrival and departure dates-and assign the guest a reservation cancellation number. Explain that the cancellation number should be retained as proof of cancellation in case an erroneous credit card billing occurs.
Access the proper reservation record, mark it canceled, properly initial and date it, and add the cancellation number to the reservation record. If the cancellation is made by someone other than the guest, add the caller's name to the canceled reservation record.
Log the reservation cancellation number.
File canceled reservation documentation for future reference.
Policies related to the cancellation of advance deposit reservation may vary greatly among hotels. The reservations agent should treat advance deposit cancellations with as much care as any other cancellation. The deposit will need to be returned to the guest who cancels a reservation properly.
An effective reservation system helps maximize room sales by accurately monitoring room availabilities and forecasting rooms’ revenue. Regardless of the degree of automation, the number and type of management reports available through a reservation system are functions of the hotel's needs and the system's capability and contents. Common management reports include:
Reservation transactions report: This report summarizes daily reservations activity in terms of record creation, modification, and cancellation. Specialized summaries such as cancellation re- ports, blocked room reports, and no-show reports are also possible.
Commission agent report: Agents with contractual agreements may be owed commissions for business they have booked at the property. This report tracks the amounts owed each.
Turnaway report (or refusal report): This report tracks the number of guests refused because rooms were not available as requested. It is especially helpful to hotels operating near full occupancy or hotels considering expansion.
Revenue forecast report: This report projects future revenue by multiplying predicted occupancies by current room rates. This information can be especially important for long-range planning and cash management strategies.
Expected Arrival and Departure lists
Expected arrival and departure lists are prepared daily to indicate Arrival and the number and names of guests expected to arrive and depart as well as the number of stay over guests. In a non-automated or semi-automated system, the reservation department manually develops expected arrival data from a control book, wall chart or reservation rack. Every evening, the data for the next days expected check-in guests are reviewed. Once verified, reservations are assembled alphabetically and either held in the reservation department overnight or brought to the front desk for the night in a computerized system, a list of expected arrivals may be displayed 0 printed at the front desk upon demand the presence of this information at the front desk facilitates the registration process.
Computers can also produce preprinted registration cards for guests arriving with reservations. Some hotels pre-register special guests, such as VIPs or those staying in special room categories. Based on information collected during the reservations process, a registration form may be produced requiring only the guest's signature. This procedure further facilitates a rapid check-in process.
By analyzing reservation information, front office management can develop an understanding of the hotel's reservation patterns'. The hotel's sales and marketing division can use these data to identify new trends, review product mixes, and assess the impact of its marketing strategies. Reservations histories include statistics on all aspects of the reservations process; including the number of guests, occupied rooms, reservations (by source), no-shows, walk-ins, overstays (people staying after their stated departure date), and under-stays (people who checked out before their stated departure date). Recording is done for reservations and occupancy information on a daily basis. Trends can be revealed by grouping occupancy statistics on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Knowing overstay and under-stay percentages at various times of the year can help a hotel devise a plan for handling walk- ins or last-minute reservation requests.
The reservation agreement between the hotel and the guest begins at the time of guest contact. The agreement may be oral or written. Confirming a reservation to a prospective guest in language which states definitely that the guest will be accommodated on a particular date may constitute a contract binding the hotel to provide accommodations on that date. If the confirmation is made in response to a request from the prospective guest for this reservation, it may also be binding on the prospective guest.
Occasionally, a reservation request must be denied because the hotel is fully booked. However, if there is enough lead time before the pro- posed date of arrival, interested guests may be put on a waiting list. This technique is often used by hotels located in high-volume areas. A waiting list might be developed and used according to guidelines similar to the following:
· Advise the guest that no rooms are currently available for the requested dates.
· Offer to take the guest's name and telephone number.
· Accommodate the guest immediately if a room becomes available due to a cancellation.
· Help the guest find alternative dates or accommodations should nothing become available.
Conducting a reservation request for a group shall be treated differently than accommodating a reservation of individual guests (i.e. Frequent Independent Traveler). The main reason is that individual reservation requests are treated by the reservation department, while group reservations are initiated by the Sales & Marketing Division, and finalized through a careful coordination of the reservation from one hand and the marketing on the other. Below is a detailed procedure of how group reservation, in a typical hotel, is conducted:
1. A group representative, a member of the travel agency or the tour operator, not individuals, shall communicate group reservations' request to the hotel's marketing department
2. Upon availability, the hotel's reservation department shall block the requested number of rooms for this very group
3. The Hotel shall give a deadline for the group, in order to receive their final list. That deadline is called Cut-off Date.
4. After receiving the final list, the reservation department shall change the desired number of rooms' status from blocked to booked (or reserved) rooms, and release the remaining rooms (if any left) as vacant for sale.
5. If the hotel did not receive the final list by the cut-off date, then the reservation department has all the right to cancel the group reservation and release all the initially booked rooms into vacant rooms. However, management shall use this right with precautions especially when it comes to groups reserving from travel agencies and tour operators of which the hotel is frequently servicing.
Although group reservation procedures are usually relatively simple, a number of problems may develop.
Conventions and Conferences
A close working relationship between the hotel's sales staff and the group's meeting planner is one of the critical elements of hosting a successful convention or conference. If good communication and a spirit of cooperation are established early on, many problems can be avoided.
Large conventions sometimes require the use of rooms at more than one hotel to accommodate all the convention attendees. Often, room requirements at several hotels may be coordinated by a separate housing or convention bureau. Each hotel must determine the number and type of available rooms it is willing to commit for convention use. The objective of the bureau is to accommodate all attendees by coordinating hotel availabilities with reservation requests. On a daily basis, the housing/convention bureau will communicate reservation requests to the hotels involved. In return, each hotel informs the bureau of any requests or cancellations communicated directly to the property. Through such exchange of information, the bureau should be able to help each hotel manage its convention block.
Tour groups typically are groups of people who have had their accommodations, transportation, and related travel activities ar- ranged for them. Hotels should be especially careful to research the reliability and past performance of tour operators and travel agents. Once acquainted with a tour operator's history, reservations agents can feel more secure when blocking and booking reservations for a tour group.
Potential Reservation Problems
Some steps of the reservations process are more inclined to error than others. If reservations agents are aware of these trouble spots and know how to avoid them, mistakes will be less likely. Some common problems are listed here.
Errors in the Reservation Record
· A reservations agent records the wrong arrival or departure date, misspells the guest's name, or mistakenly reverses first and last names (e.g., Mohit Ray might be recorded as Ray Mohit).
· A caller making a reservation for another person is mistaken for the guest and the caller's name is entered on the reservation record, or the caller inadvertently gives his or her own name.
To avoid such problems, after recording information obtained during a telephone call, the reservations agent should read it back to the caller for confirmation. Taking this basic care can be especially important to hotels catering to international travelers. Not being able to access a reservation record can prove disastrous to a hotel-guest relationship.
Misunderstandings Due to Industry Jargon
· A family with a confirmed reservation arrives two hours after the cancellation hour only to find that the hotel has no rooms available; the family thought a confirmed reservation was the same as
· a guaranteed reservation.
· Two business travelers book a double room, expecting two beds; they find their room has only one double bed.
· A family wishing to have the children stay in a connecting room mistakenly requests an adjacent room instead. Upon arrival, the family finds that the children's room is across the hall.
To avoid such problems, reservations agents should make every I effort to understand what the guest needs and to explain what various terms mean at their particular property. After accepting a reservation, agents should repeat and confirm the exact nature of reserved accommodations, in addition to stating the hotel's general reservation policies and procedures.
Miscommunications with External Reservation Systems
· A central reservation system serving several hotels in the same city books the guest into the wrong hotel; for instance, an airport rather than a mid-city property.
· A system that handles hotels in similarly-named cities books the guest into a hotel in the wrong city.
To avoid such problems, the reservations agent should furnish the guest with the name and address of the property at which a reservation has been made. When a reservation center books rooms in more than one 'I hotel in the same city, a thorough description of the hotel's location can be helpful.
Central Reservation System Failures
· The hotel fails to update the system on room availability and rate changes in a timely fashion.
· The reservation system is slow in informing the property of reservations accepted.
· Communications equipment, at either the reservation system or the hotel, suffers mechanical problems.
· The hotel closes communications with the system too early or too late.
To avoid such problems, reservations agents must be aware of the need for accurate and timely communication between the hotel and the central reservation system. When notifying the central system to close reservations for a certain date, the hotel must try to identify any reservations accepted by the central system but not yet delivered. Faulty equipment at either end of the communication channel may cripple the entire reservations process. Attention must be given to ensuring a sound working relationship with the central reservation system.
Overbooking (occupancy management)
The practice of overbooking accepting reservations for more rooms than are available by forecasting the number of no-show reservations, stay-overs, under-stays, and walk-ins, with the goal of attaining 100 percent occupancy is viewed by the general public with doubt.
As a future hotelier, you should prepare for the difficult task of developing a policy on overbooking. The front office manager is responsible for administering this policy.
In many instances, overbooking to overcome the problem of no-shows and late cancellations may produce advantages by way of operating efficiencies that far outweigh the occasional inconveniences to guests and travelers they have held hotel overbooking to be customary and justifiable practice for offsetting the losses from no-shows.
The financial loss due to no-shows may be substantial. Lost revenues of this volume force the hotelier to develop an aggressive occupancy management policy. This policy is based on management of the occupancy categories into which guests are placed: those with confirmed reservations, those with guaranteed reservations, stayovers, understays, and walk-ins. However, most hoteliers require a guest guarantee his or her stay with a credit card number to ensure their intent of arrival and thus guarantee payment for product and services on the part of the guest and hotel.
Confirmed reservations, prospective guests who have a reservation for accommodations that is honored until a specified time, represent the critical element in no-shows.
After that time (usually 4:00 P.M. or 6:00 P.M.), the hotel is under no obligation to hold the reservation. The front office manager must keep accurate records of no-shows in this group. Various types of travelers with confirmed reservations corporate, group, leisure have different no-show rates. Walk-in numbers are often higher if the front office manager maintains good relations with the front office managers of nearby hotels, who may refer guests to the property when their own are fully booked. Sending guests who cannot be accommodated to nearby hotels is a win-win situation for guests and hotels.
When these occupancy categories are tracked, the front office manager can more accurately predict occupancy. The front office manager can obtain the data for this formula by reviewing the property management system (PMS) reservation module, which lists the groups, corporate clients, and individual guests who have made reservations for a specific period. Also, the front office manager should check tourist activity in the area, business events planned in other hotels, and other local special events.