Mail handling procedure is a very important function which the Front Office staff has to handle in a hotel. A receptionist in a hotel has to be very careful that all the mail receives due attention and are attended to without any delay to avoid embarrassment.
Types of mail - Incoming & Outgoing, Ordinary & Registered :
Basically while discussing there are two types of mail. Incoming & Outgoing.
Incoming Mail :
Various types of mail may be received in a hotel, like mail for Hotel Management and Hotel staff and mail for guests. In addition the mail may be an ordinary mail or registered/recorded mail etc.
Staff has to be extra careful about recorded mail. All incoming mail must be DATE AND TIME STAMPED. A proper record of all the recorded mail is kept as per requirement i.e., the entries are made in either registered letter book, parcels book or telegram book etc. No such record is maintained for ordinary mail. After having date and time marked the mail, it is sorted and classified under 3 main categories.
(1) HOTEL MAIL is identified by the designation of a senior manager of the hotel eg General Manager, Banquet Manager etc. This mail is delivered to the office of the managers concerned.
(2) STAFF MAIL is identified by the presence of the name of employee, designation and department mentioned in the address. This is usually sorted and delivered through the Time Office.
(3) GUEST MAIL : Any mail that is left is supposed to be guest mail
Guest Mail may belong to any one of the following categories
(1) Present Guest Mail
(2) Past Guest Mail
(3) Future guest Mail
(4) Wrongly Addressed Mail
PRESENT GUEST MAIL
The guest mail is first arranged in ALPHABETICAL ORDER and then checked against the INFORMATION RACK to identify the PRESENT GUESTS. Wherever applicable the room no is entered in pencil on the letters and then they are put in the appropriate room no pigeon hole in the MAIL AND KEY RACK to be handed to the guests when they come to deposit or collect their keys
Any mail that is left still belongs to guests who have already departed (past guest) or to guests who have still to arrive (future guests)
PAST GUEST MAIL
Sometime the hotel receives mail for the guests who have already departed from the hotel after having stayed for some period. The hotel to avoid any embarrassment as to what to do with such mail and how to hand it over to the person quickly, ask the departing guest to leave their forwarding address and for how long they would want their mail to be redirected to that address. A special program called “Mail Forwarding Card” is used for this. Many hotels keep these cards in the stationery folder in the room while others keep these slips at the Front Desk and give them to the guest at the time of departure. This card contains the address to which and the dates/period till by which the guest would like all the mail received by the hotel after his departure to be forwarded. These cards are filed alphabetically and when the expiry date is reached they are cleared out systematically. Any letter received after the expiry date is either returned back to the sender or in case the permanent address of the guest is available, is redirected to him at his permanent address.
The remaining mail is still in alphabetical order and checked against the Mail Forwarding Cards and where applicable they are Redirected. Details of mail redirected is entered on the reverse of the Mail Forwarding Card.
FUTURE GUEST MAIL
General mail for guests yet to arrive is kept in the back office in pigeon holes marked alphabetically. An indication is made in the reservation record about this awaited mail i.e., in case of Whitney system the words “Awaited Mail” is written on the Whitney slip. In case of diary system it is recorded in the diary against his name in remarks column and in case of Computer system it is updated in the computer. Later this mail is sent to the Front Desk and is kept with the receptionist in special slot on the day of arrival of the guest and when the guest arrives the receptionist hands over the mail to the guest at the time of registration.
If there is any mail that is delivered within thirty days after it has been received, it is marked “Addressee Unknown” and sent back to the Post Office which will send them to the Dead Letter Office..
Outgoing Mail :
Outgoing mail of the hotel include mail of the hotel and guest. Outgoing Hotel Mail is handled by the individual departments. The various departments have their own secretarial staff who maintain record of all outgoing mail. Large Hotels use Franking Machine for postage. If the volume of mail is high the use of Franking Machine save lot of time. This machine is hired / purchased generally from the Post & Telegram department or any authorized supplying company. This machine stamps on the envelope (or on an adhesive tape) the amount of postage required and the date cancellation mark. Advance payment has to be made to the post office to cover the value of the postage expected to be used. As the stamp value is printed on the envelope, the amount is reduced on the machine till it reaches zero value. The machine will then automatically lock and the post office will again charge it after further payment. While using the machine care must be taken that the correct denomination of stamp is put on envelopes. The date stamp must be altered every day as the post office will not accept the prior post dated mail. One of the most important thing for the staff to know is the current postal regulations.
Besides the outgoing mail of Hotel, the Hotel also provide the service of posting letter etc. for the guest staying at the hotel. Generally the bell desk keeps stamps and letter and parcels scale. The stamp folder is used to prevent the stamps from getting lost. The folder contains separate divisions for various denominations. The stamp folder should be kept under lock and key. The letter and parcel scale is used to weigh the mail to ensure that correct amount of postage is affixed.
Some hotels use a book called postage book to keep the record of postage used. All mail for dispatch if franked by a franking machine or if the stamps are used should be entered into postage book.
The procedure of sending ordinary mail for guest is simple. The guest leaves his mail (to be posted) at the Bell Desk where it is weighed and then the necessary stamps are affixed and posted. In case of Registered mail the mail is sent to post office, which issue an special official receipt. These receipts are retained as they are required to be produced in case a claim for clarification from the guest.
Paging is used to locate a guest in the hotel. Guests may require this paging service during their stay in the hotel. Sometimes when a expecting a phone call or a visitor but he doesn’t want to wait for him in his room, and either goes to any of the public areas or goes out of the hotel; then in such cases he will leave the information about his whereabouts at the front desk. For this purpose he has to fill in a ‘Location form’
Location form tells about the whereabouts of the guest in case he is not in his room and is expecting a telephone call or a visitor. Sometimes this form is kept in the stationary folder in the guest room but more commonly it is with the front desk. The receptionist on the guest’s behalf can fill this in. it is made in duplicate; one copy is kept in the “Key and Mail rack”, the second copy goes to the telephone operator. Paging can be done for a guest whose location is known or for a guest who has not left any location form.
PROCEDURE FOR PAGING
1. Page Board System:
When a phone call is received for any guest or a visitor comes to visit the guest who is not in his room, the reception desk personnel will write the name and/or room number of the guest on both the sides of the Page board. This will be handed over to the bellboy. If the guest location is known, bell boy will carry that board to specific public area and will ring the bells attached to the board. This draws attention of the guest and the concerned guest gets his message.
• Time consuming- if the guest does not specify his location page board will have to be carried to all public areas of the hotel.
• When bell boy moves with the board and the bells are ringing, he might disturb many guests in the area.
2. Channel Music Or Public Address System:
When there is a phone call for a guest who has to be paged, the receptionist switches off the channel music of the lobby and other public area of the hotel. With the help of a microphone she announces the name and/or the room number of the guest, which is transmitted to all public areas simultaneously.