The staffing and deployment within hotels can differ from property to property.
Many factors go into determining the organizational makeup of a hotel. At the
most basic level, a hotel will be staffed based on the following criteria:
A hotel’s size classification
A hotel’s location type
A hotel’s product type (service level and target market)
If one was to strictly look at the management organization of a hotel,
each of the above would play a role in dictating who and how many did what.
How each of these criteria affects the organization also depends on the hotel’s
lodging management association and the mandates, if any, placed upon it by
a management company or hotel chain.
A small owner-operated hotel would obviously need fewer managers
than a mega-size hotel operating under a management contract. A resort, simply
by the nature of its facilities and services, would need more management
personnel than an airport hotel of the same size. A limited-service hotel does
not have the need for restaurant or kitchen help because they do not typically
offer that amenity.
Given the variety of ways a hotel could deploy its staff using these organizational
criteria, a standard example that covers all would be difficult. It
would be most useful to select a hotel profile that illustrates the most widely
used organizational deployment structure. Therefore, later in this thread an
in-depth analysis of the organizational deployment of an example hotel will
Most full-service hotels have six main functional departments. Each of these
departments will exist, in one form or another, regardless of location type or
product type. It is when the other organizational criteria are considered that
the problem of defining the size and scope of these departments arises. Before
looking at the organizational hotel example, an overview of these functional
departments is warranted.
Food and Beverage
Sales/Marketing and Catering
A variety of responsibilities and duties exist within each department. All
these departments rely on each other to provide the best product. Understanding
each department is vital to understanding the hotel as a whole.
Within a hotel, perhaps no area is as vital and in some cases as visible as the
rooms division. The rooms division is the “nerve center” for most of a hotel’s
operations. It is, after all, the area most responsible for the main hotel product,
the sleeping room. This is evident in the hotel industry maxim: “Everything
Begins with the Rooms Division.”
The rooms division of a hotel is an image easily conjured up in the mind
of most people. They know what happens at the front desk (on the surface, at
least) (see Figure 1). Most people understand what a bellperson does. People
understand the basic premise of housekeeping, and so on. Even if the actual
titles differ, such as “greeter” for a bellperson, or “room attendant” for a
housekeeper, their functions are fairly universal. What goes on behind the
scenes in the rooms division is what most people do not know.
The rooms division is a functional area within the hotel that includes
the front office, housekeeping, reservations, night audit, and loss prevention/
security departments. The size and scope of these areas may differ from one
hotel to another depending on the hotel size and product type. The management
philosophy of the hotel may also affect the organizational structure of
the rooms division.
This thread first provides a general overview of the rooms division. It
concludes with an analysis of other hotel departments. Successive threads
deal with other rooms division departments—namely, housekeeping, reservations,
and night audit.
Within the rooms division, lies the front office. The front office is comprised of
two main areas: (1) front desk, and (2) uniform services. Each of these areas
performs unique roles. They report directly to the front office manager.
Being one of the first (and often last) points of contact with a
hotel guest, the front desk plays a big role in the hotel. The front desk manages
the in/out flow of guests on a daily basis. The front desk is often called
the “hub” or “command center” of the rooms division because so much information
is funneled through it. The front desk is the logical point of contact for
the dissemination of information for guests and other hotel employees.
Uniform services encompass the areas within the front
office other than the front desk. Sometimes referred to as guest services, the
areas within uniform services include:
The name derives from the fact that each of these employees used to
wear a uniform of some sort. The garage and valet parking groups manage
guests’ automobiles. The bellstaff assists guests to and from their rooms. The
concierge tends to special guest needs of any sort. The private branch
exchange or PBX manages communications into and out of the hotel.
Confusion may arise in identifying this department because today it is
uncommon to find PBX, for example, in uniform, as they never actually greet
a guest in person. Also, although housekeepers wear uniforms, they are not
considered uniform services in this definition.
The housekeeping department is considered a vital part of the rooms division.
Though not generally considered a part of the front office, housekeeping
works directly with the front desk to ensure that the main products of the
hotel (guest rooms) are ready for sale. Their main tasks are to clean and prepare
guest rooms and to maintain the cleanliness of hotel common areas, such
as the lobby. Common areas within a hotel are spaces where most, if not all,
guests may walk through. The hotel lobby, entry, main rest rooms, foyer, and
meeting pre-function areas are all considered common areas.
In conjunction with the front desk, housekeeping must determine what
rooms are to be cleaned, what rooms are available, and what rooms are occupied.
This monitoring of the available product, the room inventory, ensures
that there is no opportunity cost incurred in empty rooms. Within the housekeeping
department, certain individuals may be responsible for washing
sheets and linens. This can be a very large operation for a mega hotel.
The reservations department strives to book individual reservations in conjunction
with group sales to maximize room revenue. The reservations department
is also referred to as transient room sales. It could be argued that reservations
actually have the first contact with most guests in that they communicate with
them before they actually arrive. This would generally apply to transient
reservations. It is for that reason that reservations is located in the front office
area and has an indirect reporting structure to it. (Again, further analysis of
reservations comes later in this text.)
It must be noted here that the reservations department is unique in
that it is part of two functional areas. Though generally considered
part of the rooms division, the transient sales effort must be coordinated
with the group sales effort in order to maximize room revenue.
But, because the reservations department deals extensively
with guests, it is often located in the front office area. The reservations
department will usually have a direct reporting structure to
the sales functional area and a “dotted line” reporting structure to the
front office area.
The night audit team reconciles the hotel’s daily financial transactions and
other activities for reporting purposes. Due to the twenty-four-hour nature of
hotel operations, this department conducts its duties at night, when hotels are
generally less busy. The staffing of the night audit group is commonly small in
comparison to other rooms division departments. The team is led by the night
audit manager and is supported by anywhere from two to five night auditors.
This department assumes some front office duties, such as management of the
front desk, at night. Therefore, the night audit team will have a “dotted line”
reporting structure to the rooms division manager in addition to their direct
reporting to the accounting department.