So how does a typical reservation go?
Traditionally, potential guests were sent brochures which gave information about the hotel, the facilities and of course the tariff showing the prices for both peak and off-peak periods. These are the standard prices of the hotel before any special offers or discounts and are known as rack rates. Some hotels still send these brochures but many rely on their website to give this information.
So when the guest phones the reservation department, they already know about the hotel and the choice of rooms available.
Now, imagine a guest calls asking to reserve a room for one night. The receptionist would ask about the guest's requirements i.e. the type of room, the number of people in the party, whether they would like dinner in the hotel restaurant. Once the receptionist has all the necessary information they can check their computer system to see if they have any vacancies matching the guests needs. They do, in fact they have a choice of a standard room or a premier option at a higher price. The receptionist describes the rooms and the guest decides on the standard option. If the hotel has several empty premier rooms, the receptionist may try to up-sell the guest by talking about the benefits of the premier room, or maybe even offer a discount. However, if the hotel is near full occupancy, there is no need to offer a discount as the room could be sold at rack rate to another guest.
Once the choice of room has been made, the receptionist needs all personal details of the guest which they put into the system. They will also need to request a deposit to complete the reservation. Nowadays, deposits are usually made by credit card, but if the guest is sending a cheque for the deposit the room will be blocked until the deposit arrives and is processed at which time the reservation is finalized.
The hotel system will generate a confirmation letter or email which will inform the guest of anything they need to do prior to arrival and details of hotel policy regarding check-in times and most importantly the reservation number.
Unknown to the guest is the room that they have booked may not be the one that they finally stay in as it is common for reservations to be moved around to fit in the maximum number of guests. However, the guest can be sure that the room they booked is the minimum standard they will receive.
When the guest arrives at the hotel, they can be identified by their reservation number which makes it easier in large hotels where several guests with the same surname may be arriving on the same day. If the hotel made any changes to the reservation before the guests arrival, the guest may ask why they are not in the room which they expected. Usually the answer to this is that they received a free upgrade
After this the guest is given their key or key-card and the stay can begin.