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Receiving messages for in-house guests in their absence, recording them and communicating them to the guests as soon as possible is an important function of the front desk staff. The efficiency and professionalism of the hotel and the attitude of the staff is reflected by the way this function is carried out by the staff. Usually when a guest goes out of his room he would leave his room key at the counter where the information clerk would put it in the appropriate pigeon hole of his room in the mail and key rack. The guest my leave a filled “Location Form” indicating where he will be for the next few hours.
There are only two ways that a person can contact an in-house guest:
- In case of a phone call the telephone operator will connect it to the room of the guest. Since the guest is not in the room the call comes back to the operator who connects it to the Information Section of the Front Desk. After checking that the guest has left his key at the desk (as confirmed by the key being in the “Mail and Key Rack”) the telephone call is transferred to the “Message Desk”. The message clerk prepares the message slip in triplicate. It is important to read back the message to the caller and confirm the details before signing off. The top two copies are given to the Information Clerk who puts it the room no on the forms (from the Information Rack). The Top Copy is sent to the room to be slipped under the door. The Second Copy is put in the appropriate room no pigeon hole of the Mail and Key Rack. In addition, for further safety, an “attention card” or a “mail and message advise card” is put on the door knob of the room or “message light” is activated in those hotels which use electronic systems. The message details may also be fed into the computer and the guest may view it on the screen of the T.V. in his room.
- In case of the visitor coming to the hotel , he is asked to first try the house telephones to contact the guest. When he finds the guest is not in his room he comes to the Information Desk and fills in the message slip in triplicate.
Mail handling procedure is a very important function which the Front Office staff has to handle in a hotel. A receptionist in a hotel has to be very careful that all the mail receives due attention and are attended to without any delay to avoid embarrassment. There are two types of mail used in a hotel:
Various types of mail may be received in a hotel, like mail for Hotel Management and Hotel staff and mail for guests. In addition the mail may be an ordinary mail or registered/recorded mail etc.
Staff has to be extra careful about recorded mail. All incoming mail must be Dated and Time Stamped. A proper record of all the recorded mail is kept as per requirement i.e., the entries are made in either registered letter book, parcels book or telegram book etc. No such record is maintained for ordinary mail.
After having date and time marked the mail, it is sorted and classified under 3 main categories:
- HOTEL MAIL is identified by the designation of a senior manager of the hotel eg General Manager, Banquet Manager etc. This mail is delivered to the office of the managers concerned.
- STAFF MAIL is identified by the presence of the name of employee, designation and department mentioned in the address. This is usually sorted and delivered through the Time Office.
- GUEST MAIL is any mail that is left is supposed to be guest mail. Guest Mail may belong to any one of the following categories:
- Past Guest Mail: Sometime the hotel receives mail for the guests who have already departed from the hotel after having stayed for some period. The hotel to avoid any embarrassment as to what to do with such mail and how to hand it over to the person quickly, ask the departing guest to leave their forwarding address and for how long they would want their mail to be redirected to that address. A special program called “Mail Forwarding Card” is used for this.
- Present Guest Mail: The guest mail is first arranged in alphabetical order and then checked against the information rack to identify the present guests. Wherever applicable the room no is entered in pencil on the letters and then they are put in the appropriate room no pigeon hole in the mail and key rack to be handed to the guests when they come to deposit or collect their keys.
- Future Guest Mail: General mail for guests yet to arrive is kept in the back office in pigeon holes marked alphabetically. An indication is made in the reservation record about this awaited mail i.e., in case of Whitney system the words “Awaited Mail” is written on the Whitney slip.
Outgoing mail of the hotel include mail of the hotel and guest. Outgoing Hotel Mail is handled by the individual departments. The various departments have their own secretarial staff who maintain record of all outgoing mail. Large Hotels use Franking Machine for postage. If the volume of mail is high the use of Franking Machine save lot of time. This machine is hired / purchased generally from the Post & Telegram department or any authorized supplying company. This machine stamps on the envelope (or on an adhesive tape) the amount of postage required and the date cancellation mark. Advance payment has to be made to the post office to cover the value of the postage expected to be used.
Besides the outgoing mail of Hotel, the Hotel also provide the service of posting letter etc. for the guest staying at the hotel. Generally the bell desk keeps stamps and letter and parcels scale.
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