Their duties are managerial in scope. Representing the management, they handle complaints from guests and assist in straightening out problems and any emergencies that may occur. Regular duties of assistant managers include helping guests make reservations at hotels in other cities, changing guests' rooms as requested, notifying the security department of disorderly or undesirable characters spotted throughout the hotel, assisting with guest registration at rush check-in hours, and helping to register special guests quickly or quietly when requested. Assistant managers see that operations at the front office, in the lobby, and throughout the hotel are functioning properly and that the guests are satisfied.
Although assistant managers are authorized to assume managerial status in emergencies and other situations, they are responsible to the front office manager, and the major part of their duties concern front office operations. Assistant managers on the floor serve a useful purpose, for in addition to expediting guest arrivals and registrations; they also relieve the manager and executive assistants of the many minor problems that occur daily in hotel operation.
Members of the front office staff are usually appointed assistant manager. Front office clerks, chief room clerks, and others are next in line for the position.
Assistant managers work the same hours as the rest of the front office. Since they are a step higher on the ladder of front office operations, the educational and training requirements are the same or greater than those for front office clerks.
Mail and Information
The mail and information department offers excellent opportunities for beginners in the hotel industry. Although the duties of this department are assumed by front office clerks in smaller hotels, this work is more specialized in larger hotels. The duties of this department include handling incoming and outgoing guest mail, supplying information concerning room numbers of guests, clearing such room information for the telephone department and other hotel departments, maintaining guest room key racks, and furnishing guests with room keys or key cards.
Mail and information is an excellent department in which to begin a hotel career. Many young men and women are employed in this phase of work, and the department offers good opportunities for advancement. Educational requirements are essentially the same as those for front office clerks. The work here is not necessarily skilled, and what training is required is usually given by the head of the section. However, here the better your education and training, the better background you will have for advancement.
As hours here are based on the same three shift system used by the rest of front office employees, openings are possible for after school work. Applicants with no previous experience can find jobs. Occasionally, personnel from other departments are employed at this desk when they are being considered for further promotions.
The larger commercial and resort hotels have hospitality departments. In smaller hotels, the duties of this department are performed by room clerks, assistant managers, bellhops, or other employees who come in contact with guests.
Sometimes the function of hospitality personnel is to act as hosts for guests of the hotel. The duties include providing guests with information about local points of interest; keeping daily listings of local motion picture and theatrical entertainment; providing special services, such as babysitters, companions, and personal maid service; providing radio, concert, and television tickets for guests in cities where such programs emanate; arranging sightseeing tours; and helping guests make reservations at hotels in other cities.
The hospitality staff is usually supervised by an assistant manager (front office) on duty. The usual hours of work are during the two daytime shifts of the three-shift system. As in most hotel jobs, opportunities for promotion exist; work in the hospitality department can lead to sales, front desk, and other jobs.
For work here, one should be well informed about local points of interest, have good knowledge of nearby highways, keep abreast of play and motion picture reviews, and in general be in touch with all local social, church, theatrical, and other such events.
Hours and Earnings
Most front office employees are on the three shift system. While this system of changing hours from one week to another may be irksome at first, most hotel employees become accustomed to it.
From the front office there is often greater opportunity for promotion than from any other department of the hotel. The hotel business is primarily one of selling rooms, food, and liquor. Here in the front office, you are face-to-face with guests, their problems, their complaints, and their likes and dislikes. You can watch the hotel as its rooms empty and fill on charts, racks, and computer screens before you. Many of today's hotel executives started out in front office positions.
Average front office earnings vary, depending upon the size of the hotel, the number of employees, and the size of the city. Typical salaries for front office clerks average $7.32 per hour for an eight-hour day and a five to six day week (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1997). Earnings of apprentices, mail and information, and key and other clerks may start lower and vary, depending upon locations. The salary of the front office manager is well above the departmental average, but earnings vary greatly in this department. In some hotels, certain front office jobs include meals as part of the remuneration.
Although its members are not generally in direct contact with guests, the accounting department is included under front of the house operations because much of the work is managerial and accounting executives often advance to top hotel positions. The accounting department is frequently a separate department reporting directly to the manager.
As in other businesses, the accounting department supervises the financial affairs of the organization. Accounting duties include fiscal policy and planning, maintenance of fiscal records and accounts, preparation of regular periodical and annual financial statements, control of expenditures, and the recording of income, maintenance of bank accounts, and handling of payrolls.
In small hotels the owner-manager may keep a set of simple books, regularly checked or supervised by outside accountants. In larger hotels, however, accounting operations are huge and complicated and require large staffs to maintain them.
For work in the accounting department, you will need special education and training. At least a high school education is required, and if you plan to further yourself in this specialized field, it will be necessary to complete accounting studies and perhaps even become a certified public accountant. Top spots here, as auditor or controller, require accounting backgrounds.
Howard P. James, former chairperson and chief executive officer of the Sheraton Corporation, writing for readers of this book, says:
A job in the hotel business can indeed take many directions.
In the last few years, hotels have modernized their procedures dramatically and reservations are now handled instantly and make use of computer technology as do modern payroll systems, and even the housekeeping and engineering system in larger hotels.
The hotel business offers openings and career potentials for a wide variety of talents. It is also a business which offers much opportunity for development on the job.
The larger hotels and hotel systems encourage employees to develop their skills and abilities. Many of them provide some schooling themselves or provide funds to assist employees in further training.
The American Hotel and Motel Association offers correspondence courses in every aspect of hotel work. Many accredited colleges and universities have courses leading to a degree in hotel management and also give brief summer courses which are open to working hotel employees. There are also private schools which offer courses.
The hotel business is demanding in its hours of work, some of its busiest periods being when the majority of working people are at their leisure, such as evenings and holidays. Sometimes a part of the opening ceremonies of a new hotel is throwing away the key to the door, symbolizing the fact that the hotel will henceforth be open to the public 24 hours a day.
Historically an ancient trade, the business of inn keeping becomes daily more modern in its techniques. However, because it is essentially a people business, it maintains the fascination that will always attach to any enterprise having constantly changing personal relationships.