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A hotel back office is a room or space in a hotel that is set up to deal with some of the higher-level financial work and other issues facing this type of business. This section of the hotel also usually houses the offices of higher-level management personnel. Larger hotels or franchises in a chain may have more elements set up in the back office than smaller independently run hotels, which sometimes might not have a back office at all.
One of the most important functions of a hotel back office is a setup to deal with long-term financial information. Software companies commonly sell back office software for hotels that will help provide annual accounting reports or organize long-term financial details. This is in contrast to the front office, or front desk, of a hotel, where lower-level workers generally keep cash received from guests, and maintain current information on nightly or weekly financials, as well as credit card data for recent guests.
Often, larger hotels have a sophisticated database for guest information and archiving data. This is often housed in the hotel back office or considered part of a back office operation. This kind of information is important to be able to confirm past stays by a particular guest, and also to help in generating complex reports on rates of rooms filled, along with all practical expenses for the hotel, on an annual or long-term bases. A total long-term budget for a hotel would generally be generated in the back office.
Another comparison between the front desk or front office of a hotel and its back office is based on the ways that hotel workers are generally arranged. Usually, front desk associates handle current guest issues, and interact directly with guests. Guests managers may also work from behind the front desk. By contrast, a general manager for a hotel will usually work out of the hotel back office, and would rarely interact with the clientele. Special sales managers or others who do not commonly deal with current guests will also usually work out of the back office area or some other separate office, along with bookkeepers, and managers of the maintenance or housekeeping staff.
A different way to understand a back office for a hotel is through evaluating franchise hotels that are part of a larger chain. In these hotels, much of what gets reported to the corporate headquarters will be housed in the back office. Where the front desk or front office is devoted to customer service; a back office may have a totally different style based on how the chain of hotels is run from the top.
Larger chain hotels and resorts may have a back office for keeping customer information and other paperwork, but management may not even be on site more than once a week or a few times a month.
In a lot of chain hotels, much like restaurants, there is a general manager on staff at each location, in addition to regular hotel employees, but financial and other management decisions are made in corporate offices elsewhere.
Also, one person or real estate management companies may own several hotel properties in one area. In that case, the hotels' financial information is likely to be kept in that owner's central office.