The Guest Cycle in Hotels

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  • 0:03 Hotel Guest Cycles
  • 0:40 Pre-Arrival
  • 1:41 Arrival
  • 2:23 Occupancy
  • 3:13 Departure
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reed

Danielle works in digital marketing and advertising. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and an MBA.

In this lesson, we'll discuss the four stages of the guest cycle in hotels, including pre-arrival, arrival, occupancy, and departure. After finishing this lesson, you should be able to identify and explain the guest cycle in hotels.

Hotel Guest Cycles

hotel check in

Imagine you're a hotel guest and you walk into a hotel, expecting an enjoyable stay. What can a hotel staff do to improve upon your expectations? When you start thinking like a customer service representative, a front desk clerk, or anyone in guest services, you'll understand that hotel guests flow through a cycle. The four stages associated with a hotel guest cycle include:

  1. Pre-arrival
  2. Arrival
  3. Occupancy
  4. Departure

An understanding of the hotel guest cycle can help you manage front office operations and streamline guest services. This cycle also applies to accounting operations.


By the time a guest walks into a hotel, he or she has already passed through one of the stages in the guest cycle. Pre-arrival is defined as the stage at which a hotel guest chooses a hotel. The only step associated with this stage is reservations. Factors affecting a guest's decision are varied.

Think about your own experiences. How do you choose a hotel? For many guests, price is the largest factor, while others care about location, experience, recommendations, and amenities. Your own experience reflects the average person's pre-arrival stage.

On the guest services side, the hotel is responsible for making and verifying a reservation according to a guest's requests. After the reservation is accepted, the hotel creates a record, which is truly the start of the customer/hotel relationship. Especially with online booking, hotels collect guest information like those related to demographics, room deposits, and requests for specific rooms. Some hotels pre-assign rooms far in advance, especially when a guest requests a specific room.


When a guest arrives at a hotel, he or she officially moves into the second stage of the cycle. Arrival is defined as the time when a guest arrives and checks in at a hotel. Steps related to this stage include interactions with doormen or porters, registration, room assignment, key issuance, and baggage handling. If not obtained when a reservation was made, a hotel may require more information from a guest, such as payment method. Nowadays, hotel guests typically use credit cards to reserve a room, but they may also pay in cash. At this stage, they officially become guests of the hotel.

In cases where guests walk into a hotel without a reservation, they immediately jump to the arrival stage of the cycle.

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