Hotel departure is part of the final stages of the guest cycle. It examines the various activities involved in checkout and bill settlement. Check out involves the front desk as also other departments such as housekeeping, bell desk, cashier’s desk, Point of sales etc.
Guest account settlement depends on effective front office accounting system that maintains accurate guest folios, verifies and authorizes a method of settlement and resolves discrepancies in account balances. Hotels find it most effective to settle a guest account while the guest is still in the hotel. Guest can settle the bill by paying cash, charging the balance to a credit card, deferring payment to an approved direct billing entity or using a combination of payment methods.
Most hotels require a guest to specify during registration an eventual method of settlement. The front office should verify or confirm guest credit card or direct billing information before he/she arrives at the desk for check out.
Guest Departure Activities at Various Desks:
At The Bell Desk
During checkout, a luggage out pass has to be obtained from the cashier stating that the guest has settled his account and returned the room key. Once this is received a departure errand card is made and filled out by the bell boy and will go to the guest room to bring down the luggage.
The bell captain will make an entry regarding this in the bell captain’s control sheet. The departure room is then inspected by a housekeeping supervisor/room attendant to ensure that nothing is left behind by the guest. The housekeeping department will also check the mini bar for anything consumed by the guest to be charged to the bill.
At The Reception Desk
The Front desk receptionist checks the list of expected checkouts for the day and will confirm with the guest his date and time of checkout. Departure notification slips are printed to inform the other departments of the guest’s checkout. Where a manual system is in use, the room racks are updated. The departure register is also updated.
At the Cashier’s Desk
Traditionally at check out guest is presented a final copy of his/her account folio for review and settlement. Front Office Associate should confirm how the guest intends to settle the account. Guest may establish credit by presenting a credit card but may choose to settle his bill by cash or travellers’ Cheques. VIP or special guests or corporate accounts should not be asked for settlement if their account is marked that all charges are to be directly billed.
The following are the best brand standard practice on how to deal with guest departure professionally;
The procedures used will vary among hotel front offices depending upon the level of service and degree of automation. Some front offices offer automated or express check out.
Your pledge: To provide fast and friendly checkout service that gives guests the feeling they would like to return to your hotel, and recommend it to their friends.
• No guest waits longer than three minutes in a line at the front desk before being served or approached by a team member explaining the delay. If the front desk is busy, back office staffs are brought in to assist.
• Receptionist – cashier should be friendly and outgoing, not with their head down, buried in figures. Guest bills are clear, easy to read and completely accurate. A guest should not be delayed by having to send a staff to check on, for instance, minibar consumption.
• All bill queries are dealt with pleasantly, without hesitation or discussion and all backup documents are readily available. As the bill is generated, you may engage the client in a conversation to establish how their stay at your hotel was and respond appropriately.
• Bills are neatly folded or stamped to the credit card voucher as appropriate. On settlement of the bill, a luggage pass and appropriate receipt are issued.
• Porters are then signalled to prepare and assist with luggage.
• Luggage to be picked within 5 minutes of check out.
• Guests are asked if they require transportation assistance to, for instance, the airport or within the town.
• All guests will be offered pleasant farewell remarks such as “thank you for staying with us at XYZ hotel” and inviting them for a return visits, wishing them a safe trip or pleasant day.
• Any guest feedback is forwarded to either your supervisor or guest relation’s officer.