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Hotels are an integral part of ones travels, and with the ongoing boom of the internet, accessibility to hotel related sources has never been greater. For the frequent traveller, the language used in regards to hotels maybe of second nature. However, for the less frequently travelled, terminology used in hotel descriptors, advertising, and any other interaction, may not be all that straight forward.
This is a short compilation of hotel terminology, that are commonly used worldwide. The purpose is for travellers to obtain a better understanding, and to help enjoy a more confident hotel experience.
* Active Reservation - Any current or future reservation in the hotel computer system, which has not been cancelled.
* Adjacent Rooms - Is a phrase used to describe any two rooms within immediate proximity of each other. These rooms do not have to be side by side, and can be across the corridor.
* Adjoining Rooms - Is a phrase used to describe two rooms side by side, which does not have an internal doorway (not to be mistaken with Interconnecting)
* Advance Rates – Discounted rates to encourage guests to book in advance, but comes with stringent Terms and Conditions.
* All Inclusive - A package plan, that is inclusive of all main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), set types of beverages, and some activities in the room rate.
* All-Suite – A hotel whereby all rooms have a defined and separate living area, to the sleeping area. This does not necessarily mean the sleeping area is separated by a wall (as in a 'bedroom') as a Studio styled room can still be classified as a 'Suite'. Unless specified, it is best not to assume it comes with kitchen facilities.
* Amenities – Commonly used to describe hotel facilities, the correct use of this term is for personal toiletry items such as shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, shoe shine kit, sewing kit, and shower cap, with no additional cost to the guests.
* American Plan – A now disused term to describe a package plan that includes some meals, (usually breakfast and dinner) in the room rate. Similar to the phrase Half Board. Note that this is not the same as All Inclusive. This term has all but been replaced with a more specific description, such as 'Bed + Breakfast'
* Atrium – An interior design in which there are public areas, that overlooks the lobby from anywhere above.
* Average Daily Rate (ADR) – Is the term for the hotels' internal average rate calculation, which is the total rooms only revenue for the day, divided by the number of rooms sold.
* BAR - Best Available Rate, is the lowest advertised non discounted rate by the hotel for a specified date.
* Back of House – A term used to describe the functional areas of the hotel, in which employees have limited to no guest contact. These include areas such as kitchen, engineering and housekeeping departments.
* Back to Back – A dual term used in housekeeping and for staff rostering. For housekeeping, a 'Back to Back' is a room assigned for checkout, and assigned for same day checkin. For rosters, a 'Back to Back' is an assigned shift, with only one shift separation between the end of a shift, and the commencement of the next shift.
* Banquets – An older term, still used for conferences and events that requires any form of catering (the catering does not have to be food).
* Blacklist - Is a term used for a list of guests who are no longer welcome at a hotel, due to previous bad behaviour or indiscretions. Also refer to 'Red Alert'.
* Blackout Dates – A term used to describe dates that are unavailable to the public for reservations. It is used by hotels and travel agents, to prevent reservations of lower rates (such as loyalty points redemption), over known periods of high occupancy.
* Block – A group of unassigned rooms, set aside for a specific purpose
* Breakfast Cards – Cards hung by guests on the doorknob of guest room doors to pre order Room Service breakfast for the following morning.
* Bump - Refer to 'Overbooking'
* Business Centre - Is a dedicated office space for guest use. It is commonly equipped with machinery found in a typical office, such as photocopier, fax, computer terminal, telephone etc. Some hotels have manned Business Centres, who offer secretarial services.
* Butler Service - Is a dedicated service which assists guests with all manner of requests like a personal assistant. Their position involves everything from light housekeeping, unpacking guest cases, preparation of light meals, and usually available 24hrs a day. This is a service usually only found in the highest standard hotels.
* C&C - Conference and Catering. Refer also to 'Banquets'
* C&E - Conference and Events. Refer also to 'Banquets' and 'C&C'
* Cancellation Number - Is a number generated by the hotel computer system, when a reservation has been cancelled. This is the corresponding opposite to a Confirmation Number, and should always be requested by the guest when cancelling a reservation.
* Cashier – A term used for a Front Desk staff, designated specifically to process guest check outs, and handle legal tender for guest.
* Charge Back - Is a payment authorisation, which permits specified costs to be billed elsewhere, other than the guest. This is usually only permitted for companies and clients with established line of credit with the hotel.
* Commissionaire - Is a French term for a designated staff member, who is effectively the 'captain' of the driveway. This term is often used instead of a doorman, which is technically incorrect, as positional hierarchy places a Commissionaire much higher than a door person. This position is usually only found in the top end hotels, and are easily distinguishable as their uniforms often includes top hat and tails.
* Compendium - An in room directory folder, containing information about services, facilities and features within the hotel, as well as associated and nearby services. Also commonly referred to as a 'Service Directory'.
* Competitor Set - A group of hotels who are direct competitors, in a set category of hotels, within a defined region/area.
* Complimentary Rate – A rate in which there is no charge to the guest. This can refer to rooms and any other specified service, such as breakfast, internet, valet parking.
* Concierge – A designated staff member, who can provide a vast amount of information and assistance, on the hotel, local, and nearby services of the city. Often mistaken as a mere 'information' person, a good concierge can mean the difference between an average and extraordinary stay. Some of the best concierges around the world, have networking to access even the most difficult items to obtain, such as restaurant reservations, theatre tickets and invitation only events.
* Confirmation Number - This is a number generated by the hotel computer system, when a reservation is entered. Please note that when a reservation is made via a third party, the agent will provide a confirmation number - which is not the same as the hotels.
* Continental Breakfast – A term used to describe a light breakfast, which does not include cooked dishes. Generally includes tea/coffee, juice, fruit, sweet roll and/or cereal.
* Corporate Guest – A term used to describe business guests, who are employees of a company and entitled to a negotiated room rate.
* Corporate Rates – A rate offered to corporate guests, which is unavailable to the general public. These are usually through negotiation, based on a guaranteed number of nights annually.
* Credit Card Authorisation Form - Is a form document supplied by the hotel, which can be completed to obtain permission, for charges to be paid for by a person other than the registered guest. This is commonly requested for those who do not have credit cards, surprise gifts, or company employees whereby the company wishes to pay in advance.
* Daily Rate - A term used for the room rate breakdown for each day, for a particular room type over a specific set of dates
* Day Use - A reservation that is for a specified time period, with the arrival and departure on the same date.
* DND Sign/Card – Is a 'Do Not Disturb' card, which is hung outside the room to inform hotel staff or visitor that the occupant does not wish to be disturbed. Some hotels no longer use these signs, and now have moved onto light indicators outside the room door.
* Door Person - Is a term often used for a staff member, assigned to greet and assist guests at the entrance of a hotel. The term varies according to region, and in many cases, based on the standards and level of the hotel. Some hotels employ door persons specifically for the purpose of opening doors only.
* Double Double - Refers to a 'Twin Room' configuration, whereby the bedding configuration contains two beds where the minimum bed size is a Double Bed.
* Double Room - Is a room configuration, whereby the regular bedding layout contains one bed where the minimum bed size is a Double Bed.
* Double Locked (DL) – An occupied room in which a secondary locking mechanism, has been turned by the guest to prohibit entry. Only a management level override key or an emergency key can open it.
* Electronic Key - A plastic key with electronic codes embedded. There are two types of electronic keys; the more common keys with the magnetic strip, and the less common Proxy Cards, which are internally wired with an electronic chip, and requires no swiping or contact with the locking mechanism.
* European Plan - A now disused term which describes a Room Only rate.
* Express Check Out – Is a form authorisation given by the guest, for the hotel to process a checkout, without the attendance or presence of a guest at the Front Desk.
* FIT - Free Independent Traveller. It is a loosely used term by hotels and travel agents, to generally refer to guests that are not part of any package or tour.
* Fitness Centre - Gym. There are many varying sizes of hotel fitness centres available, from the most basic, to some of the most advanced exercise equipment. Many of the top end hotels have fulltime Personal Trainers on duty.
* Front of House (FOH) – A term used to describe any functional and visible areas of the hotel, in which employees have extensive guest contact. These include but not limited to Front Desk/Reception, Restaurant, Bars, Lobby, and any accessible areas to the public.
* Floor Pantry – A service room provided on each floor for housekeepers and service staff, to store cleaning agents, equipments, guest supplies, guest room linen and housekeeping trolleys.
* Free Cancellation - Is a booking condition, which permits cancellation without penalty or charges, provided the reservation is cancelled before a specified date/time.
* Full Breakfast - Is a term used for a breakfast, which has the inclusion of a cooked component (in contrast to a Continental Breakfast).
* Full Kitchen - Is a phrase used to describe an apartment styled room, which contains a designated area, with comprehensive kitchen facility, usually including a stove.
* Full Service – A term used to describe a level of service, provided by a hotel with the widest possible range of services and conveniences for the guest.
* GDS – Global Distribution System is a network of electronic reservation systems used worldwide by travel agents to book hotel and airlines. Well known GDS's include Sabre, Galileo and Amadeus.
* Group Rate – Room rate offered to groups of people visiting the hotel as part of a common party. Group Rates are often determined not by the number of persons, but by the total number of rooms required.
* Group Reservations – Is a term used for a reservation, with a specified minimum number of rooms over a set date period. Larger hotels have a separate designated department, which specifically deals with groups. Commonly mistaken understanding of what constitutes a 'Group Reservation', is that it is determined by the total number of rooms, not the number of persons.
* Guaranteed Reservation - An internal hotel term used to describe a reservation which has a method of payment confirmed. This term is often incorrectly interpreted as meaning 'a guaranteed room' - which is not the case. Although in most cases the reservation is secure, technically speaking, all it implies is that the reservation has an acknowledged method of payment.
* Guest Essentials – Are items for the guestrooms, that are not expected to removed by the guest. These include but not limited to such items such as glasses, iron, pillows, kettle, coat hangers, hairdryer, and bathrobes.
* Guest Expendables – Are supplies that are expected to be used up or taken away by guest on leaving the property. These include but not limited to such items as bathroom toiletries, tea and coffee satchels, stationery, magazines, slippers, laundry bags, and tent cards.
* Guest Folio – A term used for a print out of a guests' room account.
* Guest History – Are a vast collection of guest stay details, recording everything from average stay expenditure, to notes and comments from previous stays.
* Guest Profile - Is a database of guests' history, plus the guests' preferences, status, personal details such as contact information, and any other collated information for 'profiling'.
* Guest Relations Officer/Manager - Are designated staff who deal exclusively with handling of guest specific matters and nothing else. Although they are Front Office based, they technically do not fit into Front Office, Concierge or Food & Beverage department, float in all areas, and have very different set of tasks to either department.
* Guest Service Agents - The current term for receptionist/front desk clerk/cashier/telephonist. It was brought about to reflect the multi-tasking capacity and expectations of these staff. (many hotels have a separate Communications Department, who still have a designated position of a Telephonist/Switchboard operator)
* Handle With Care (HWC) – An American term, designated to guests who may have had some unpleasant experiences in the hotel genuine or otherwise. This designation is given to the guest in the hotels computer system, for reminder of their stay, and remains in the 'Comments/Notes' field for future stays. The other common term used is 'Complaint Guest'
* Hard Key – A traditional metal door key.
* Hard Refurbishment - Is a phrase used to describe the re-decorating of the room, that involves changing of fixtures, fittings and furniture.
* Inbound - Is a multiple use term, originally used to describe an overseas guest, which has now expanded to cover all manner of reservations. Travel agents still use it in the original sense, but hotels now use it to describe almost any independent online reservation.
* In House Laundry Service (Dry Cleaning Service) – A hotel-operated department that launders guest washing, as well as all internal linens and uniforms. Note, this is not the same as a self use or coin operated laundry facilities.
* In-Room Guest Checkout – A feature of the hotel that allows the guest, to use a guest room television or portable device to settle their account, and check out of a hotel.
* In-Room Safe - Is a safe located in a guest room, of varying design. Usually fitted in the wardrobe or out of direct line of sight.
* Interconnecting Rooms - Is a phrase used to describe two or more rooms with a common internal doorway.
* Inventory – Is a term used by both travel agents and hotels, to describe a product such as a room. Internally, a hotel can use this as a term to describe any stock or merchandise, operating supplies, and other items held for use in a hotel.
* Kitchenette - Is a term used to describe a smaller or partial kitchen facility in an apartment styled room. A kitchenette does not have to be in a separate area to the living area.
* Late Charges - Is a term used for any charges, added to the guest account after Check Out. This could be due to charges not disclosed by the guest (such as minibar), or not added due to hotel oversight.
* Lead Time – The length of time between when a booking is made and the date of arrival.
* Limited Service – A term used to describe a level of service provided by a hotel. A limited service hotel may not have the full range of services that a traditional full service hotel may provide, such as 24hr Room Service, Overnight Housekeeping, Valet Parking, Conference Facilities, and Porterage.
* Maximum Occupancy - Is the maximum number of occupants permitted by Fire & Safety regulations for any given room type. This is normally determined by the local fire chief or specialist for the local governing bodies, and takes into account the ratio of available space vs the safe direct passage to an exit point. It is not determined by how many persons that can fit into a room, nor how many persons it can sleep. The term 'persons' is always used, as the regulations do not distinguish age, size, capability of individuals. It is total number of 'persons'.
* Merchant Model - Business model where the hotel offers net rates so that a merchant can add their profit margin (mark up the rates) for sale to the public. Most commonly used by online resellers, wholesalers and tour operators.
* Message Centre - Is a variation of Voicemail, accessed by the phone in the guests room.
* Meta-Search Engine - Is a search engine where different OTA websites are consolidated, so that rates and listings can be compared. Often referred to as 'Comparison', 'Consolidator' and/or 'Aggregator' sites.
* MICE – Meeting, Incentives, Conference, Exhibitions. It is a Sales & Marketing segment, of high importance to hotels, that focuses entirely on the business segment. Some hotels are designed and geared specifically to cater for the MICE clientele.
* Mini Bar – Is an in-room fixture, which is a miniature refrigerator stocked with juices, liquor, and snack for the convenience of guests. The more modern versions have sensors, which detect the removal of items, and automatically charges the guest for that item.
* Motels – Traditionally were any accommodation that are predominantly located primarily by the roadside. An evolvement of the phrase 'Motorway Hotel', they were originally focused on providing lodgings to road travellers, although the term is now more widely accepted as lodgings of slightly lesser services than a 'Hotel'. One notable aspect about motels, is that they often provide ample parking.
* Night Audit – Is the financial controlling process, whereby the financial activity of guest’s accounts is maintained and balanced on a nightly basis. It is during this overnight process, where room charges are added to the guest account.
* Non Refundable Rate - Is an advertised rate offered at a heavy discount, however the attached condition is that the room rate will be charged, regardless of cancellation or changes. The terms is often interchanged with 'No Cancellation' policy.
* No Show - Is a term used for a guest who did not arrive to honour their reservation on the specified date. Technically, a reservation is 'deactivated' when the Night Audit staff roll the computer system to changeover dates to the next day, which is traditionally done just after midnight. However, the general rule, is that the room must be held, until checkout time the following day. From that point forth, a charge is processed, and any remaining dates are then cancelled.
* No Show Charge/Fee - Is a term used for a pre-specified fee, charged to the guest who did not arrive, to honour their reservation.
* Opaque Model - Business model where the guest does not know which product or brand being booked before purchase. They know the rate, but not the product. Alternately, the phrase may be used whereby the guest may not know the individual component price of a bundled package.
* O.O.O - Out Of Order. Is a room status, that has been removed from any form of guest use. When a room is placed on this status, it is physically not counted as part of the room count.
* OTA - Online Travel Agent. This is a very broad term, that generally refers to a travel related booking platform. They are not like a traditional a High Street agent, in that you don't receive advice. Best interpreted as 'booking sites' rather than a 'travel agent'.
* Overbooking – Is a term used for a situation, whereby reservations are taken for more rooms than are available. This is mostly a deliberate action by the hotel, by trying to forecast the number of no show reservations, stayovers, understays, and walk ins, with the goal of achieving a 100% occupancy. The definition also refers to the terms 'Bump' and 'Walk'.
* Package Rate – A term used to describe a room rate that include goods and services in addition to a room.
* Paid Out - Is a charge processed to a guest account, whereby external services are paid for by the hotel on the guest behalf, and then charged to the guest account. This accounting process is also used to refund, cash balances left on a guest account at time of checkout.
* Point of Sale – Any outlet within the hotel that generates income, such as restaurant, bar, room service, gift shop, and spa. Also referred in accounting terms as a 'revenue centre' (as opposed to a 'cost centre')
* Porterage - Is a fee paid for luggage services at a hotel, as part of a group tour.
* Post - Any charges added to a guest room account.
* Pre-Authorisation - Is an electronic request, performed by the hotel, to notify the bank of an impending charge. The uses of a pre-authorisation are many, but predominantly used by the hotel for pre-emptive credit worthiness prior to a guest arrival, or upon checkin as a method of a security deposit. This is *not* a charge, and is a suspended amount, until such time a Sales Completion is performed.
* Pre-Registration - Is a reservation made for the night before the arrival date, so that the guest has guaranteed room access for an early arrival.
* Property Management System (PMS) – Is a generic term for any specialised software application used to manage a hotel. The software enables integration, interfacing and networking of reservation and registration databases, point of sales systems, and accounting systems.
* Queue - Is a prioritising wait list for a room, for when the room is not ready at the time of guest arrival. This is an automated system, whereby each time a room is serviced and becomes available, the reservation which was 'queued' first, will highlight, with a clock displaying how long the guest has waited.
* Rack Rate - Is a term technically used for the highest standard rate for a given room type, for regular use. Often considered the 'default' rate, Rack Rate however, does not necessarily mean the hotel cannot charge higher, especially for known periods of high occupancy, or for special events.
* Red Alert - Is a memorandum, circulated within a certain groups of hotel in a particular area, and in some cases around an entire city, to notify other hotels of a guest who may have caused serious issues - such as walking out, room damage or breaking the law, and instances of police involvement. Also refer to 'Blacklist'
* Registration - Official term for 'Check-In'
* Renovation - Is a term used to describe any physical changing of room or space structure, from it's original design.
* Residence Hotel – A dual use term, used to describe both hotels that provide long term accommodations for guest, and for a mixed use property (hotel guests, timeshare, and permanent tenants)
* Room Allocation - Is the task of assigning a specific room number to a reservation. This is generally partially performed the night before, with the exception being reservation with approved special requests attached - which maybe allocated much earlier. The task is usually done on the basis of 'top down', meaning the suites and higher room types are assigned first.
* Room Move - Is the task of having to change the guest room, whether it be by guest request, or for other hotel reasons.
* Room Service - The original and still the most common term, for the service of ordered food within a guest room. Also now commonly referred to as 'In Room Dining'.
* Room Status - Is a Housekeeping and Front Office term used to describe the state of readiness for use, of a specific room. The most common used status terms are; Vacant Clean, Vacant Dirty, Occupied Clean, and Occupied Dirty.
* Run Of House - This is a term used for the sequence in which the rooms are sold and used. Although it sounds rather vague, it is commonly used to describe a 'bottom to top' sequence of room types, but functionally, it actually means 'whatever room type is best available for use at that time' - so it does not necessarily mean the worst room type.
* Safety Deposit Box - Is a safety deposit service located at or in a nearby room from the Front Desk of a hotel, operated on a sign in basis, with a key held by both the hotel and the guest.
* Sales Completion - Is the act of finalising a Pre-Authorisation, from a 'hold' to a 'completed' charge.
* Self Parking - Is a hotel car park facility, offered to all guests to park their own vehicle.
* Single Room - Is a room configuration, whereby the room is specifically designated for a one person occupancy, and usually only contains a Single Bed.
* Soft Opening – Partial launch of a hotel property, often at a reduced service level, to test and gauge equipment and the service offering, prior to a Grand Opening.
* Soft Refurbishment - Is a phrase used to describe the re-decorating of the room, which only requires the changing of the 'soft' furnishings, such as linen, curtains, painted surfaces, cushions, and carpet.
* Stay Overs – In-house guests who are not due to checkout on any given date.
* Studio - Is a term most commonly used for room types, whereby there is a designated living area and sleeping area, but does not have walls separating them.
* Suite - Is a term most commonly used, for any room type that has a wall separating the sleeping area from the living area.
* Triple Room - Is a room configuration, whereby the normal bedding layout has the capacity to sleep three persons. This does not necessarily mean the room contains three beds.
* Turn Down Service – Is an early evening courtesy service, provided by the housekeeping department. The guest room is refreshed, restocked with supplies, and bedcovers are removed in preparation for guest sleep. Guests often receive 'gifts' such as sweets, bottled water, mints, as part of the Turn Down service.
* Twin Room - Is a room configuration, whereby the normal bedding layout contains two beds of any size.
* Understay – Guest who registers on the specified date, but checks out before their stated date of departure.
* Upgrade - Is a term used for a room reservation, whereby a guest is provided complimentary, or paid for, a room type above what was originally booked.
* Valet Dry Cleaning - Is a charged laundering and dry cleaning service for guest clothing and garments.
* Valet Parking - Is a hotel parking service for all guests, whereby the vehicle is parked on the guest behalf by a designated staff member.
* Walk In – A guest who arrives in anticipation of a room, without having made a reservation.