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This paper aims to explain the front stage and backstage operations of the hospitality industry. The flowchart is a visual presentation of the instructed decisions on each stage which are required to functions the practice. As stated by Lusch and Vargo (2014), service organisations are divided into two different components which are front stage and backstage. Front stage activities are used to communicate and interact with the guests in the hotels and the employee benefits of the front stage operations are well skilled to manage the service delivery to the guests. Backstage activities are not associated directly with the guests. In this paper, Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney is chosen to show the front stage and backstage operations of services through the flowchart. Therefore, for a hotel to enhance the delivering of the best services, harmony between front stage and backstage is needed.
1. Flowchart of the front stage and backstage services
Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney is located near Sydney Harbour Bridge and it is one of the best five-star hotels in Australia with nearby shopping, vibrant social scene and outdoor adventure (Fourseasons.com 2018). Service flowchart is developed and designed according to the service culture, design and expectations of the guests in a hotel. In a hotel, services refer to the understanding of the customers’ needs, processes of offerings and cost of the requirements and analysis of the limitations of the services (Gummesson 2014). Four Seasons Hotel is a famous hotel chain and it has a well-established front stage and backstage integration which help the hotel to maintain the process of delivering the services to meet the international standards of guest satisfaction.
Front stage operations
Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney follows the front stage services according to the guests' needs and international level. The main element of the front stage service lies in the developing the interaction with the guests of the hotel to communicate with them and to collect the details of them. Front stage staffs ask the guests about their preferences, choices of rooms, food choices and linen. This information is delivered to the backstage staffs as part of their work. Front stage flow chart of Four Seasons Hotel is involved with the check-in details of the guests, reservation, waiting for the area, operating the hotel rooms, keys and locker as well as the check-out details of the guests. The front stage staffs take the record of the guests for future use and the staffs let the guests informed about hotel rules and other services provided by the hotel. According to Lovelock and Patterson (2015), the front stage of the hotels performs the tasks according to the determined process and service standards so that it can meet the international service standards and professional objectives. Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney has different types of rooms, food dishes and personalised services which they offer to the customers from the front stage. Front stage operations of Four Seasons hotel are segregated into three different segments, front desk operations, recreational activities and dining rooms. Staffs of front desk operations do the work like guests' bookings, guest check-in, concierge, tours and car rentals, guest services, data management and guest check-out. Front desk activities are also included the working like room arrangement and advanced payment. Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney takes international bookings and the staffs also help the guests if the guests have foreign currency. Data management is another activity in the front office where the staffs maintain the guests’ information and keep the guest membership (Ekstrand and Damman 2016). Recreational activities are related to the maintaining a swimming pool, gym, handle guests booking, in addition, dining room staffs do the work like offer meals allocation, arranging room services and following up special requests. Most importantly, Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney checks that each of the processes must deliver the evidence the guests can influence their perception. Front stage activities are regarded as more work intensive and the staffs in the front stage have to do multitask to handle the guests as well as the service design of the hotel.
Figure 1: Front stage service flowchart of Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney
Backstage operations in Four Seasons Hotel play the role to perform the internal operations so that both the front and back stages can collaborate in a right way. In Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, the numbers of staffs in backstage are more so that the staffs can provide guest satisfaction at an optimum level. Backstage operations in the hotel are associated to the replying to the mail, taking phone calls, proper filing to the guests' documents, cleaning rooms and floors, housekeeping and post-operational activities (Lovelock and Patterson 2015). Management of Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney follows up daily whether the service standard and implementation of services are done in a proper way using the right information sent by the front desk. The waiting time for the guests should be decreased as the guests must have the services within no time after calling to the front desk. Backstage flow chart must be flexible so that the delivery time of the service can be quickening up to meet the expectations of the guests. In Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, the management is divided the backstage operations into six major groups, kitchen, housekeeping, sales and marketing, HR, Accounts and security of the hotel. Kitchen section prepares the meals and food dishes. Housekeeping department cleans up the rooms and floors. Sales and marketing department of this hotel does various functions to reach wider guests, first of all, this department advertises the hotel in public, they form a partnership with the outdoor media and they do online booking of the customers. In addition, the HR department of the hotel does the work of staffs' recruitment, payroll and employee development so that the staffs can have the proper training to meet the guests' needs. Accounts department of the hotel in backstage does the functions of bookkeeping, payments and accounts payable to different sections. Finally, hotel security maintains the security of the hotel premises. Backstage operations are not visible to the guests and the guests do not communicate with the backstage staffs directly. However, in the case of security and housekeeping, the guests have to face the staffs in face-to-face. Backstage activities are very important to smooth up the process of guest satisfaction and it improves the brand image of the organisation (Radnor et al. 2014)
Figure 2: Backstage service flowchart of the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney
Explanation of the significance of the service encounter
According to Nikoladia et al. (2016), ‘a moment of truth' in the service industry means the point when the customer and the service representative meet. The encounter between the guests and the staffs of the hotel result in the formulation of the perception on part of the guests and it may leave the impression on the mind of the guests. In Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, the guests face the staffs in front desk, in the dining arena and in housekeeping or as in the form of security personnel. As stated by Collier et al. (2018), ‘moment of truth’ determines the perception of the guests or brand in general in the mind of guests. Staffs initiated actions like room cleaning or calling the guests over the phone to the hotel rooms for asking any queries can be a moment of truth. The front stage staffs face a critical moment of truth for Four Seasons Hotel and the staffs take the social responsibilities to make the good moment of truth or make the guests satisfied. ‘Moment of truth' is very important in the service industry as it is the foundation of satisfaction of quality of service. Most of the services are mainly the outcome of social acts and it takes place in direct contact between the guests and service providers (Larviere et al. 2017). During the moment of truth, the guests of the hotel can come to realise the perceived service quality. In addition, encounter cascade means a series of encounters when the customers go to take the service. In hotels, the guests face the encounter cascade as any of the encounters can be critical for the guests' side. The staffs of Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney provide each of the encounters with the guests a vivid importance. The cascade encounters can create a combined image of the hotel. Positive encounter with the guests for a hotel can create a high-quality positive image for the hotel (Collier et al. 2018).
Remote encounter in Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney happens during the hotel booking when the guests want to book a hotel through the website of Four Seasons or from any third-party booking website or app. The website of Four Seasons is designed nicely and the potential guests can book the hotel with ease and it provides tangible evidence of service quality. In addition, the guests sometimes call the hotel prior check-in to ask the address or whether the hotel would provide a car service. The guests also call the front desk from the hotel room for any personalised services. The staffs deal these encounters cautiously as these encounters have potential variability in the interaction. During the calls, the tone of the voice, the efficiency of the staffs and staffs' knowledge must be good to satisfy the guests.
3. Analysis of managerial implications
Level of interactions between the staffs in the hotel and guests can improve the process of managing the service quality. Service standard improvement is the motto of creating harmony between front stage and backstage activities. Managing service is significant to make the well-maintained interaction with the customers which would be beneficial for developing the guideline to the staffs. Managing service quality has five dimensions, first, the tangible dimension is associated with the physical facilities, the appearance of the staffs and equipment, reliability is associated with the ability to perform the promised service accurately and dependable. Responsiveness of the staffs in the hotel is related to the willingness to help the guests and provide prompt services (Long 2018). Assurance from the help desk of the hotel is the knowledge of the staffs and courtesy of the staffs which accelerate the trust and confidence of the guests. Lastly, managerial implications are also associated with showing the individualised attention to the guests and caring.
Cascade encounters of the services and collaboration between the front stage and backstage develops the proper monitoring and operation services so that it can impact on the brand image as well as the effectiveness of Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. Managerial perspectives of hotel services are in linked with the listening to the customers, offering customised services, understanding the customers' needs and providing a constructive impact on the management process. Four Seasons Hotel has well-maintained brand value; however, the service encounter approach in recent time creates the gap in service quality. Efficient communication, proper training from management and defined role of top management can help this hotel to reach the set operational objectives. As opined by Lusch and Vargo (2014), services are difficult to understand and visualise and therefore, customers take greater risks and uncertainty. People can be part of the service experience in the hotel and the personnel's attitude and behaviour can shape the experience of the customers.
It has been noted that the service industry is about maintaining the service quality and remain the customers satisfy. In the hotel industry, front stage and backstage operational integration are very important to provide a unique service experience to the guests. Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney maintains the flowcharts to determine the service level and through these flowcharts, it wants to meet the service standards. In addition service, encounters' experience can be improved through managerial implications and coordination.
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