Front Desk Manual

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This page contains an outline of ideas for creating a hostel front desk procedure manual. A front desk manual can help keep medium and large hostels organized and speed up the training of new staff.

This page is only intended to be a rough outline to give ideas of things that one might put in a front desk manual. Every hostel is different.

Shift Duties

If your front desk staff is disorganized you can list shift duties in your front desk manual, and post them next to the front desk computer(s).

This is just an example of the concept:

Shift 1 Midnight to 8am
Shift 2 8am to 4pm
Shift 3 4pm to Midnight

Shift 1

Example tasks:

  • run night report
  • mark no-shows for the morning shift
  • clean office bathroom before morning shift arrives
  • etc.

Shift 2

Example tasks:

  • highlight guests who are due to check out
  • check rooms for guests who haven't checked out on time
  • mid shift report to check if register is accurate
  • etc.

Shift 3

Example tasks:

  • clean the office
  • reply to emails
  • enter booking engine bookings into front desk software
  • etc.

Check-in Procedure

  • You might list step by step instructions for checking guests into the hostel. For example, a list of things to mention in the "welcome speech" -- sample items:
    • mention all facilities, including any free stuff the guests can get (breakfast, Internet, etc.)
    • give them a map and mark the basic points of interest like the convenience store
    • mention the checkout time and the check in.
    • etc.


  • What are the rules for credit cards? (Examples: "A $10 key deposit is required in cash per key at check in and will be refunded upon check out when key or keys have been returned." or "don't refund key deposits on credit cards.")
  • How to use the credit card machine.
  • How to make a refund with the credit card machine.
  • What the phone number is for the credit card machine company is in case something goes wrong.

Rates & Discounts

  • Procedures for all rates including STA or other vouchers, weekly rates, etc.
  • Procedures for all discounts including VIP Backpackers, ISIC, etc.

Check-out Procedure

  • Step by step instructions for checking guests out of the hostel -- for example:
    • collect sheets and pillowcase
    • get the room key
    • make sure they don't have anything in the safe
    • return deposit


Refund Policy

  • What is the refund policy?

Canceling a Booking

  • What is the hostels cancellation policy?
  • What is the no-show policy?
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to cancel a booking
  • Instructions for canceling group bookings (pass it on to a manager?)

Entering Bookings

  • How to enter bookings from booking engines into the computer.
  • How to assign guests to rooms -- for example, "if two people book together, assign them to the same room right away so that they don't end up in different rooms during a last minute room assignment."

Customer Service

  • Information on how to welcome guests, such as a bulleted list of items to mention in the "welcome speech".
  • Information that will help them keep the hostel reviews high.
  • Make a list of resources that will help the front desk answer guests' questions. (Tip: make an HTML page with useful Web links and either make it the homepage of the front desk computers, or put a link to it from the desktop -- examples: airport shuttle telephone numbers, airline telephone numbers, airport lost baggage telephone number; a link to a website that lists all beaches/attractions/museums, etc.)

Online Tips

Who Can Stay

  • What are the requirements for staying at the hostel? (e.g., "out of state ID")
  • What is the policy for letting locals or students stay at the hostel?

Access to the Front Desk

  • Who is allowed to access areas of the front desk:
    • the front desk computers (e.g., can housekeepers use the front desk computers to check email?)
    • the register
    • the key cabinet (whoever has access to this has access to occupied rooms)
    • the safe
    • the incoming mailbox
    • etc.

Lost & Found Policy

  • E.g., how long does an item have to stay in lost & found box before staff can take it home?
  • Who gets to take the item home?


  • How should the front desk deal with guest mail and phone messages?
  • How should the staff handle a bedbug incident?
  • How should staff handle complaints?


  • Make a list of common problems with instructions on how to fix them:
    • How to change credit card machine paper.
    • What to do if a guest shows up with a reservation, but the hostel is booked.
    • What to do if a guest shows up a day early or day late.
    • What to do if a guest shows up a 4:30am for the following day.
    • What to do if the end of shift report is over or under the expected amount of cash or credit payments.
    • What to do if hostel makes a mistake with a reservation and the guest is angry.
    • What to do if the guest makes a mistake and the guest is angry.
    • etc.