Hotel Reservations is the process of the booking a room prior to the arrival of a guest.
SOURCES OF HOTEL RESERVATIONS
- Free Independent Travelers (FIT) – Individual guests who book their rooms directly with the hotels.
- Tour Operators
- Travel Agents
- Corporate Houses
- Embassies & Consulates
- Government Offices
- Central Reservation Systems (CRS) – CRS provides toll free telephone numbers to use their facility. These are ideal for hotels which have limited budget to promote their property world wide. There are basically three types of CRS :
- Affiliate Hotel Reservations Network – A hotel chain’s reservation system in which all participating properties are contractually related.
- Non-Affiliate Hotel Reservations Network – A central reservation system which connects independent (non chain) properties.
- Intersell Agency – A CRS that handles reservations for more than one product line, such as airlines, car rental companies and hotel properties.
- Referral Groups – A group of independent hotels that have banded together for their common purpose. Hotels within the group refer their departing guests or those guests they cannot accommodate to other properties in the referral group.
- Global Distribution System (GDS) – A distribution channel for Hotel reservations that provides worldwide distribution of hotel reservation information and allows selling of reservations around the world. Usually accomplished by connecting the hotel company reservation system with an airline reservation system.
TYPES OF HOTEL RESERVATIONS
- Tentative / Waitlisted Hotel Reservations – When a Hotel reservations is taken but not confirmed, it is known as a tentative reservation.
- Confirmed Reservation – When a Hotel reservation is confirmed by the hotel by a letter or a mail to the guest, it is known as a confirmed reservation.
- Guaranteed Reservation – It is a reservation that assures a guest that a room will be held until check-out time of the day following the day of arrival. The guest guarantees payment for the room, even if it is not used, unless the Hotel reservation is properly cancelled.
TYPES OF GUARANTEED RESERVATIONS
- Prepayment – It requires that a payment in full be received prior to the guest’s day of arrival.
- Credit Card – the hotel asks for the credit card number at the time of booking, and will charge the card in case of no-show, unless the reservation is properly cancelled before a stated cancellation hour.
- Advance Deposit – it requires that the guest pay the hotel a specified amount of money before arrival.
- Travel Agent – the travel agent guarantees the client’s reservation. The hotel bills the travel agency for payment in case of a no-show.
- Vouchers or MCO (Miscellaneous Charge Orders) – travel agency vouchers are issued to guests who have prepaid the amount of the deposit to the travel agent. The MCO is a voucher issued by the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) and is controlled by the same travel agency regulations. The guest has to present the voucher or MCO to the cashier at the time of check-in who recovers the room charges from the travel agent or ARC laterCorporate – a corporate guaranteed reservation involves a corporate house entering into an agreement with the hotel which states that the house will accept financial responsibility for any no-show business travelers it sponsors.
- Non Guaranteed Hotel Reservation – in case of a non guaranteed reservation, the hotel agrees to hold a room for the guest until a stated cancellation hour on the day of arrival. The property is not guaranteed payment in case of a no-show.
- Group Reservation – A group is a body of 15 or more persons. Group reservations mostly involve those by meeting planners, tour operators, travel agents, associations, convention bureaus or event management companies.
STEPS IN MAKING GROUP HOTEL RESERVATIONS
- The tour leader makes a familiarization tour (FAM Tour) of the hotel to check its suitability for the proposed tour. The management checks the credentials of the tour leader (operator or agent) in payment terms.
- If suitable, the Hotel reservation agent confirms the availability of the rooms at the date & time of intended booking before the rates are negotiated. The number of displaced regular business and the financial gain of such a booking is taken into account for the negotiation of the rates.
- The reservation agent checks with the food and beverage department in case of the large groups if they can handle such group requirements.
- The tour leader and the hotel negotiate rates and draw up a contract. The contract mainly involves the billing instructions and payment schedules and is very important because group business affects both parties due to its volume.
- The Hotel reservation agent blocks the required number of rooms on the Reservation Chart.
- A separate file is maintained for each group. The name of the group members and their room distribution preference is taken.
- Passport details (for foreigners) are taken for government formalities.
- The F&B Department is informed about the meal timings and menu compilations.
- Get the exact time of arrival and departure from the tour leader in order to advise the front desk to have the rooms ready and alert the lobby staff.
- Take the name of the group leader for the complimentary room allotment and communication regarding groups.
POST GROUP STAY
- Give feedback to the management on the performance of the group for future relations.
ADVANTAGES OF GROUP BOOKING
- Groups form a major part of hotel business and guarantee business to the hotels all through the year.
- Groups are a major source of volume business to the hotels.
DISADVANTAGES OF GROUP BOOKING
- They affect regular business at full rate since the groups get a discounted rate.
- The complimentary rooms to group leaders in peak season are revenue lost.
- The credibility of the group is important and necessary precautions have to be taken to protect the hotel from loss.
- Guest room preferences in case of groups are a challenge to the hotel. Some preferences include:
- Same floor as their friends
- Adjoining rooms
- Special medical assistance
- Non smoking rooms
- Infant & child care such as babysitting services, crèche, cribs etc
- Noiseless rooms (especially for airline crews on odd shifts)
- The ability of other departments to cope with volume business should also be taken into account.
HOTEL RESERVATION PROCEDURE
When a hotel receives a reservation enquiry, it can respond in several ways as following:
- Accept the reservation as requested if rooms are available.
- Suggest alternative room types, dates and/or rates.
- Suggest an alternative hotel.
TELEPHONIC HOTEL RESERVATION PROCEDURE
- Greet the caller. A warm greeting always sets the proper tone for the conversation. Eg. “Thank you for calling the Hyatt Regency. This is Mary speaking. How can I help you?”
- Identify the caller’s needs. It is important to ask the caller about arrival and departure dates, the number of guests, room preference, group or corporate affiliation and other information that helps define the caller’s needs.
- Provide an overview of the hotel’s features and benefits based on the caller’s needs.
- Make a room recommendation, and adjust it according to the caller’s response.
- Close the sale. Ask for the reservation; do not wait for the caller to make a decision.
- Gather the reservation information. Record all the reservation information necessary, following the hotel’s procedures. This process usually involves repeating the guest’s name, arrival date, departure date, room type and rate, and special requests to the caller to confirm the information. This is also the best time to secure the reservation guarantee and provide a reservation confirmation number.
- Thank the caller. Closing a call as warmly as opening it leaves callers with a sense of confidence that they have selected the right hotel.
The Hotel reservation agent collects and enters the following guest details to create a reservation record:-
- Guest name (& group name, if applicable)
- Guest’s residential or billing address
- Guest’s telephone number, including area code
- Name, address & telephone number of the company if appropriate
- Name and information of the person making the Hotel reservation, if he is not the guest
- Number of people in the party and the ages of the children if any
- Arrival date and time
- Expected departure date and time
- Hotel Reservation type (status – guaranteed, non guaranteed etc)
- Special requirements
- Any additional information as needed (method of transport, late arrival, flight number, room preference etc)
The reservation agent assigns a reservation confirmation number after recording the necessary information.
In case of a guaranteed reservation, the agent also has to obtain the credit card information (credit card number, type, expiry date and the cardholder’s name), prepayment or deposit information, or corporate or travel agency’s account information depending the guest’s method of guarantee.
Hotel Reservation agents should be aware of several factors when quoting rates during the reservation recording process including:-
- Supplementary charges for extra services or amenities
- Special promotions in effect for the dates requested, if any
- Minimum stay requirements in effect for the dates requested, if any
- Applicable currency exchange rates for an international guest
- Applicable room tax percentages
- Applicable service charges
CONFIRMATION & CANCELLATION NUMBERS
The hotels assign a reservation confirmation number to the guest as part of the Hotel reservation confirmation process. It helps assure the guest that a reservation record exists.
Similarly hotels issue a reservation cancellation number to guests properly canceling a reservation.
REVISION / MODIFICATION OF HOTEL RESERVATION
Major reasons for revision
- Change in the number of rooms booked
- Change in the type of rooms booked
- Change in the arrival or departure dates
- Take the Hotel Reservation Revision / Cancellation Form and note down the revisions.
- Amend the Hotel Reservation Chart by removing the room allocation made of the earlier dates and allocating the rooms on the new dates.
- Amend the reservation slip from the rack.
- Assign a new Hotel reservation confirmation number.
CANCELLATION OF HOTEL RESERVATION
- Take the Reservation Revision / Cancellation Form and note the name, address and telephone number of the person making the cancellation.
- Amend the Hotel Reservation Chart.
- Remove the reservation slip from the rack.
HOTEL RESERVATION REPORTS
- Reservation transactions report: – This report summarizes daily reservations activity in terms of reservation record creation, modification and cancellation. Other possible reports include specialized summaries such as cancellation reports, blocked room reports, and no-show reports.
- Commission agent report: – Agents with contractual agreements may be owed commission for business booked at the property. This report tracks the amounts the hotel owes to each agent.
- Turnaway report / Refusal report: – This report tracks the number of reservation requests refused because rooms were not available for the requested dates. The turnaway report is especially helpful to properties operating near full occupancy or hotels considering expansion.
- Revenue Forecast Report: – This report projects future revenue by multiplying predicted occupancies by applicable room rates. This information can be especially important for long range planning and cash management strategies.
- Expected Arrival & Departure Lists: – These lists indicate the number and names of guests expected to arrive, depart or stay over. The arrival list facilitates the guest registration process and the expected departure lists helps to anticipate and speed up the guest account settlement and check-out.
THE HOTEL RESERVATION CHART
A Reservation Chart is the basis of control of the reservation system. It has the following features:
- The charts are bound in a register for better control.
- Each page of the register represents a month of the current year.
- The vertical columns represent each date of the current month.
- The horizontal columns represent each room of the hotel.
- Each block created in the chart represents a room on a particular day of the month.
- The blocking off is done in pencil or highlighters.
THE HOTEL RESERVATION RACK
The reservation rack is a part of the Whitney System that has the racks and carriers with reservation slips inserted and maintained alphabetically by the guest names. The racks are mounted on the wall in the reservations department. There may be different colours of reservation slips for easy identification of the source of booking.
Pink Through a travel agent
Blue Through an airline
GUPTA, RAHUL FLAT NO 57, CIT RD, KOL-14 ARR: 26 DEC 2012
DEP: 28 DEC 2012
ONE TWIN ROOM RATE: Rs.18000/-
TRAVEL AGENT: COX & KINGS 27, PARK STREET, KOLKATA
OTHER HOTEL RESERVATION CONSIDERATIONS
The reservation agreement between the hotel and the guest begins at the time of guest contact. This agreement may be oral or written. Confirming a reservation to a prospective guest in language that states 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 in response to a reservation request from the prospective guest, it may bind both the hotel and the guest to fulfill the Hotel reservation.
Generally, a reservation request must be denied if the hotel is fully booked. However, with enough lead time, interested guests may be put on a waiting list for the proposed date. Hotels experiencing high volume reservations may satisfy excess demand through this technique. A waiting list might be developed and used according to these guidelines:
- Advise the guest that no rooms are currently available for the requested dates.
- Offer to take the guest’s name, telephone number and / or email address.
- Agree to notify the prospective guest immediately if a room becomes available due to a cancellation or change.
- Help the guest find alternative dates or accommodations if no rooms become available.
POTENTIAL HOTEL RESERVATION PROBLEMS
Errors in the Hotel Reservation Record. There are many opportunities for a reservations agent or a guest at a website to make an error when creating a reservation record. For example:
- The record may be created with an incorrect arrival or departure date, a misspelled guest name, or first and last names mistakenly reversed.
- The name of the person making a reservation for the guest may be accidentally entered as the guest’s name on the reservation record.
To avoid such problems, the reservations system or agent should verify the information entered on the Hotel reservation record by displaying or reciting the information back to the person creating the reservation record. Displaying or quoting the hotel’s cancellation policy at this time is also appropriate to avoid any problems over no-show billing or non-return of deposits.
Misunderstandings Due to Industry Jargon. Sometimes Hotel reservations agent or systems use industry terms that are not widely understood. This can lead to problems like :
- A family with a confirmed reservation may arrive 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 guaranteed reservation.
- Two business travelers book a double room, anticipating two beds; they are displeased to learn their room has only one double bed.
- Parents wishing to have their children stay in a connecting room mistakenly request an adjacent room. At check-in, the parents find that the children’s room is across the hall or next door with no direct connection.
To avoid such problems, Hotel reservations systems or agents should make effort to minimize industry terms and explain what various terms mean at their particular property. After accepting a reservation, the terms and conditions of reserved accommodations should be provided in addition to the hotel’s general reservation policies and procedures.
Miscommunication with Central Hotel Reservations Systems. There are some unique possibilities for miscommunication between guests and reservations agents at central reservations systems. For example:
- A central reservations system serving several hotels in the same city may book the guest into the wrong hotel, such as a chain’s airport hotel instead of its mid-city property.
- A system that handles hotels in similarly named cities may book the guest into the hotel in the wrong city or state
To avoid such problems, the hotel reservations agents or website should furnish the guest with the full name and address of the property at which a reservation has been made. When a reservation system serves more than one hotel in the same city, a thorough description of the hotel’s location can be helpful to the guests.
- Online Reservation System Failures. If communication between the hotel and an online reservation system is not maintained effectively, problems such as the following can occur:
- The hotel may fail to update the online reservation system database with current room availabilities and rate changes.
- The online reservation system may be faulty in communicating reservations it has booked to the property.
- Communications equipment, affecting either the online reservation system or the hotel, may become inoperable.
To avoid such problems, hotel management must ensure accurate and timely communication between the hotel and the online hotel reservations systems. This is a duty of the hotel reservations manager. When closing the hotel reservations for a certain date, the hotel must check for any reservations an online hotel reservations system may have confirmed but not yet communicated.
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