Guest Folio is considered as the master bill in the hotel which is also known as Guest Account Card. A guest folio contain all transactions of both cash and credit occurred by each resident guests. In manual system Folios are maintained manually and kept in the folio rack at the front office cash. In computerized system the folios are kept in the computer and only printed out at the time of a guest check-out.
Guest folio records each entry of guest transaction and the recording process is called posting. In the folio the posting is done consecutively in the order of transactions on a given date. The amount of money that is payable by the guest to hotel is recorded on the debit column and the amount of money that is collected from the guest through setting his/her bill as well as advance deposits is recorded in the credit column. The balance column of the guest folio shows a progressive balance between debit and credit column which is determined by subtracting the credit amount from the debit amount. It also includes previous balance.
Just after the guest entry the front desk clerk create a guest folio with the inclusion of:
- Guest name
- Room number
- Date of arrival
- Date of departure
- Room rate
- Guest address
- Billing instruction to the cashier
In order to perform the audit process the folios need to be maintained chronologically. Thus each folio contains a serial reference number for maintaining the chronological order. Till the guest departs from the hotel the cashier is in charge for the guest folio. During a guest’s stay, his/her stay is on a credit. For example the goods or services that are provided to the guests are required to pay only upon his or her departure. However, for getting this credit facility, a guest has to provide proof of his credit worthiness (especially for the new guests) by showing credit card, credit deposit, MCO and so on. Before offering a line of credit to a guest there are two checks is required, one by reservation agent who receives a booking and the other by the receptionists who registers a guest into the hotel. If there is any doubt, both staff can refer the issue to the lobby manager or front office manager who makes final decision. The receptionist of any is generally fully responsible for reconciling the guest’s bills.
The hotel sets house credit limit in order to discourage the guests to overspend. If the guest’s bill reaches or exceed the house credit limit, then the guest must clear up his or her bills. If the guest fails to pay, the hotel has the authority to seal the room for guest entry. The house credit limits are supervised closely by the front office cashier and later the night auditor who produces a daily statement of house guests exceeding the house credit limit.
Guests basically go after the following procedure to settle the bills:
- Cash payments, in which a guest receive a cash voucher from the cashier as an evidence of such payments.
- Guests sign their bills to be recovered by the city ledger by a prearrangement with their organization.
- Paid bills through an acceptable credit card.
- Debit cards.
- Guests sign their bills to be adjusted against advances and deposits.
- Traveler’s check which is considered as the check in the hotel.
The guest can settle his or her bill from any outlet of the hotel. If a guest wants to sign the bill in the guest folio at any of the post, the cashier will ask the guest for his/her room number. After verifying the room number the cashier will then make a charge voucher like the restaurant voucher in where the guest will sign and then the voucher will be forwarded to front office cashier to post the amount into the guest folio.
If a guest wishes to buy anything from the hotel shopping arcades, the guests are required to settle their bill or accounts directly with them (each shop has independent account system) as the shopping arcades are leased by the hotel. Some hotels also provide arrangements to shopping arcade to sign the guest bill. After providing the authentic documentation of the guest bill, the hotel will repay the amount to the shop owner.
To sum up here are some key points about Hotel Guest Folio:
- Right after successful guest registration, a guest folio is created automatically in hotel’s computerized Property Management System or manually.
- Every guest folio is opened with zero (0) outstanding balance in hotel.
- All kinds of information related to guest expenditure or loss made by guest has been recorded to handle future legal actions from any party.
- It is expected that all guest are trustworthy. So generally guest folios are presented and paid in check out period.
- Strict advanced payment procedures need to be taken for special guests like walk in guest, scanty baggage etc.
- For long term guest it is advisable to accept payment for few days and bill them weekly and try to collect payment and update the folio on weekly basis.