Front desk responsibilities go far beyond simply checking guests in, and include everything from managing reservations to liaising with different teams throughout the hotel to coordinate exceptional service for guests.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to provide an effective front office in a hotel, and what’s included on a comprehensive hotel front desk checklist. 

Role of a front office in a hotel

The exact role of a front office in a hotel may vary somewhat from one hotel to another, but the general front desk receptionist duties and responsibilities are largely the same despite how big or small your property may be.

That is, first and foremost, to welcome guests and check them into their rooms. This includes managing vehicle parking for the guest during their stay, and arranging for any special requests for their rooms. 

It’s also important for any receptionist to be able to assist with guest questions about the local area. This can include anything from suggestions for places to go for dinner, to the nearest supermarket and pharmacy, to directions and information about local events and attractions. 

Yet even when there isn’t a guest standing at the desk asking questions or checking in, there are countless hotel front desk duties that will keep any receptionist busy. 

This includes dealing with guest issues. For example, if a guest is having trouble with their TV or has reported that there’s a leak in the bathroom, the front desk must liaise with maintenance in order to fix the issues as soon as possible. Or, a guest might request a room change, which takes a lot of organisation to manage seamlessly. 

The front desk must also manage and prepare for upcoming bookings. They might have emails and requests from potential future guests who are asking about anything from availability to amenities, so it’s important to stay on top of these communications as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Receptionists will also liaise with housekeeping to ensure rooms are ready on time – or if a guest wishes to check in early, to determine how quickly the room can be ready. A good receptionist can also make a housekeeper’s task easier by informing them when a guest checks out early, allowing housekeeping to make a headstart on their room list for the day before the standard check out time. 

It’s also often the responsibility of a receptionist to keep the lobby area clean and tidy, with up-to-date newspapers, tourism brochures, and coffee stations. 

Front desk operations and responsibilities

Front desk operations and responsibilities are so much more nuanced and diverse than an outsider would ever think. That’s why having a hotel front office checklist is essentially the only way to manage the vast array of tasks every day, week, month, and year. 

Here are the key front office responsibilities in a hotel: 

  • Checking guests in and out, including taking deposits, and directing guests on parking options
  • Liaising with housekeeping teams to check if rooms are ready, and managing additional drop offs of items such as extra towels as required
  • Liaising with maintenance staff to deal with issues within rooms and common areas as they arise
  • Managing the booking system for future reservations
  • Communicating with potential and future guests about upcoming reservations 
  • Creating key cards and check-in info packs in advance
  • Staying on top of current local events to better serve guests
  • Learning about local attractions and amenities, including supermarkets, restaurants, bars, and public spaces, to better serve guests 
  • Managing any public areas such as pools, lobbies, and gyms
  • Dealing with guest complaints and inquiries 
  • Providing baggage storage services for guests checking in and out 
  • Keeping the lobby and entrance areas clean and tidy 

Tips to improve front office operations in hotel

Improving front desk operations should always be an ongoing goal for any receptionist staff.

With so many duties and responsibilities, there are many ways to work on improving front desk operations, some of which you will be able to implement immediately, and others that will require slow and steady improvements over time. 

  • Use property management systems (PMS): Harness dedicated hotel software and technology. Keep the software up to date, and train staff on the full features of your reservation systems
  • Automation: Make the most of automation options with hotel front desk software and a channel manager to streamline all of your online travel agents (OTA) in one place 
  • Staff training: Fully train staff, including ongoing professional development, with both in-person training sessions and online front desk courses for improve customer service 
  • Listen: Understanding the wants, needs, and pain points of your hotel guests will help you to better serve them 
  • Take in feedback: Take note of any feedback, good and bad, in person and online, to make improvements across the board
  • Staff schedules: Prepare staff schedules by looking at guest check in/out numbers and historic trends for that time of year to ensure you have the right number of people working to efficiently manage guests and issues
  • Staff communication: Keep staff up to date with hotel and local activities and changes, ensure staff are aware of ongoing issues, and make sure staff know they can ask questions and make suggestions at any time with open lines of communication 
  • Preparation: Every hotelier knows Friday nights and Sunday mornings are the busiest times of the week, and major holidays will add extra pressure to all of your teams. Prepare in advance for busy periods with extra staffing, planning, communication, and supplies
  • Priorities: Prioritise the guest in front of you, then ensure all staff know which tasks are the most important and in what order for the most effective service 
  • Know your area: Hotel guests are going to have many questions about the local area, from where to find the best pies to what events are on each weekend. Take the time to regularly research and explore your local area, and train staff on what you find. Be sure to provide local maps for quick pointers and notes for guests as required
  • Workflows: Set up standard workflows for all front desk responsibilities, and ensure all staff know where to find them. This should include steps for everything from room selection and key card assignments, to guest greetings and the check-in process
  • Checklists: Create daily checklists that staff must tick off as they work through it to ensure all tasks are completed every day. Leave a space for notes on each page to help with handovers for the next shift 
  • Research: Attend hotel and hospitality conferences, and take note of services offered at competitor hotels to see what you could improve 
  • Utilise staff: Staff are a valuable resource, so be sure to ask them if they have any suggestions for improved service. They may have worked elsewhere they did things a different way that might work better for you as well 

Hotel front desk checklist

With so much going on, a hotel front desk checklist is the best way to make it through the day without forgetting or neglecting any tasks. 

It’s important to remember that a hotel front desk daily checklist is not a static list. It can – and should – be updated regularly. Some tasks may prove not to be necessary every day, at which point they can be moved to a weekly or monthly checklist instead. 

As a manager or owner, you might prefer the simplicity of a single daily checklist. 

Experimenting with different styles of checklists can help you to find the right balance for your hotel, teams, and services, so don’t be afraid to take a standard hotel front desk checklist template and adjust it to your needs. This includes moving tasks from the evening checklist to the morning one, and vice versa, to create the workflow that best suits your hotel’s needs and systems. 

Hotel front office checklist

Looking for a hotel front desk checklist template to get you started? Here are some of the standard hotel checklists and what they typically entail. 

Morning schedule checklist 

  • Switch on laptops/computers and sign into all front desk systems
  • Set up the guest-facing desk (with brochures, maps, discount cards etc)
  • Wipe down the countertops
  • Move cash from the safe
  • Count the cash register and sign off on the float 
  • Switch on lobby music 
  • Unlock front doors 
  • Switch phones from after-hours to normal calling 
  • Answer all new emails 
  • Enter new reservation requests 
  • Check room availability for walk-ins
  • Make any wake-up and reminder calls as required 
  • Check that common areas are tidy 
  • Distribute daily newspaper in reception
  • Ensure guests have checked out by their check out time
  • Liaise with housekeeping teams for prioritising rooms for cleaning and dealing with any special requests for the day 
  • Check out guests and charge accounts as required
  • Review any notes left by the night shift
  • Prepare arrival packs for the evening shift (including making keycards) 
  • Review arrivals for the day to check for any special requests or VIPs 
  • Confirm with housekeeping that all rooms are ready for check in 

Evening schedule checklist 

  • Count float 
  • Check room availability for walk-ins
  • Add any unfinished tasks from the day shift to the evening checklist 
  • Double check that arrival packs are ready for guests due to check in 
  • Manage any new reservation requests
  • Answer all emails 
  • Print status list of rooms (in case of emergency overnight so you know who is in house)
  • Prepare instructions for overnight/late check ins
  • Sign out of systems and shut down computers for the night 
  • Tidy up the reception desk and area 
  • Switch off lobby music
  • Lock the front door and common areas that are closed overnight
  • Switch phones over to the answering machine 
  • Balance the till and close the accounts for the day
  • Move the float and till into the safe for the night 
  • Leave notes for the next morning shift as required (things to follow up on, important tasks etc) 

Guest arrival checklist 

Note that this checklist can vary greatly depending on your hotel check-in processes and software. 

  • Double check all room allocations have been made for the day’s arrivals
  • Double check each arrival pack/welcome pack is ready with assigned keycards or codes 
  • Check with housekeeping that the room is prepared
  • Check reservation notes for any special requests 
  • Welcome guests with a smile and ask for their reservation name 
  • Pull up their reservation in your system and confirm the details of their stay (how many nights, how many guests, room type) 
  • Request photo ID and a credit card 
  • Check ID belongs to the guest and that credit card matches 
  • Return the ID and take a damage deposit on the credit card 
  • Ensure guest understands the damage deposit and that their card will be charged in the case of damage
  • Go over the rules and expectations of the hotel (including quiet times, open times of any services such as the front desk, gym, pool)
  • Explain any need-to-know information such as how to get in after hours, the time and place for hotel breakfast 
  • Supply key card and instructions for the room (such as where they can find WiFi codes) 
  • Ask if they have any questions and provide responses 
  • Ask if they have a vehicle and provide details about parking during their stay, including cost if applicable, options for payment
  • Provide guest with instructions for check out 
  • Wish guest/s a great stay, and let them know what to do if they have any further questions 

Guest departure checklist 

In many cases, a guest will simply leave the room and leave any key cards within the room. For hotels where guests must check out at the front desk, this departure checklist covers most scenarios: 

  • Print a list of check outs for the day so you know who to expect 
  • Greet the guest with a smile as they approach the reception desk
  • Ask for the name on their reservation and pull up their file in your property management system 
  • Settle any outstanding accounts, such as room service and parking costs 
  • Ask if there were any issues with the room you need to know about, such as maintenance that needs fixing
  • Check them out of the system 
  • Ask if they need to store bags for the day, or if there is anything else you can help with before they go, such as directions 
  • Inform housekeeping that the room is vacant and ready for cleaning 
  • Action any maintenance tasks for the vacated room 
  • Ensure that all guests have departed by check out time, calling rooms to check as necessary 

Lobby and common areas checklist

Different hotels offer different common areas, so your exact checklists will vary depending on the amenities and features of these areas. However, you can use this lobby and common areas checklist as a daily guide. 

  • Check the common areas for rubbish, personal items, old newspapers, or items that are out of place 
  • Report any issues requiring fixes to maintenance immediately 
  • Unlock/open all common areas at the stated times 
  • Switch on all lights, music, and/or television sets 
  • Update any daily information boards, such as weather reports and events 
  • Put out daily newspapers 
  • Check and top up water dispensers and tea and coffee station if applicable 
  • Water plants if applicable 
  • Empty rubbish bins 
  • Check that luggage carts are in the correct places, if applicable 
  • Tidy and top up tourism brochures as required 
  • At the end of the day, turn off lights, music, televisions
  • Lock areas not available to guests overnight 

Hotel exterior and entryways checklist

The exterior of a hotel and its entryways must always be kept clean and look inviting for guests. Often, they have travelled a long way and look forward to seeing a bright and clean hotel waiting for them, and this first impression of the property will play a role in their overall experience. 

Using a checklist can help to ensure basic duties are carried out either daily or weekly to keep the exterior and entryways in perfect condition. 

  • Put out signage, quickly checking that it is clean and in good condition (no peeling letters or dirt marks) 
  • Check that all lights are working properly
  • Sweep or vacuum floors daily 
  • Mop interior floors daily 
  • Wipe down fingerprints from glass windows/doors 
  • Sanitise door handles and other high-touch areas 
  • Water and check on any plants 
  • Ensure fire and emergency exits are clearly marked 

Hotel lobby toilets checklist

Hotel lobby toilets are some of the most often used common areas in a hotel. Many guests will require the facilities as soon as they arrive, or while they’re waiting for other guests to get ready to go. 

It’s important for staff to be attentive to these areas to maintain the clean, high standards of the hotel. 

  • Clean the toilets at least once per day 
  • Check toilet paper supply
  • Wipe down sinks and benches
  • Top up soap and paper towel dispensers as required 
  • Sweep and mop floors daily 
  • Check all lights are fully functional 
  • Check any automated hand dryers, soap dispensers etc are fully functional 
  • Use a glass cleaner on mirrors 
  • Empty rubbish bins 
  • Sanitise door handles and other high-touch areas

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).