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Front of House

Hotel Receptionist

The Work

Hotel receptionists make guests feel welcome, deal with room bookings and cancellations, and handle requests in an efficient and professional way. Their duties usually include:

  • dealing with reservations and cancellations by phone, e-mail, letter, fax or in person
  • checking guests in, allocating rooms and handing out keys
  • checking guests out, preparing bills and taking payment
  • handling foreign exchange
  • taking and passing on messages
  • dealing with special requests from guests, such as ordering taxis, booking theatre trips, or storing valuables and luggage
  • answering questions about facilities in the hotel and the surrounding area
  • dealing with complaints or problems

In larger hotels, reservations are computerised and the receptionist keeps the system up-to-date. They also often use a telephone switchboard.

Receptionists in large hotels usually work as part of team, and may just deal with one specific part of the role such as handling telephone reservations or checkouts. In small hotels, they might cover a wide range of other tasks, from showing guests to their rooms to serving drinks in the bar.

Hours & Environment

Hours of work can include days, evenings, nights, weekends and public holidays. Shift work, including split shifts, is also common. Receptionists may be paid extra for working unsocial hours.

Part-time and seasonal work is available.

Receptionists spend most of their time behind a counter, close to a computer terminal and telephone switchboard. Employers may provide a uniform.

Skills & Interests

To be a receptionist, you should:

  • enjoy dealing with people and be able to vary your approach depending on the guest
  • be patient and tactful
  • have good written and spoken communication skills, including a pleasant telephone manner
  • stay calm under pressure
  • be able to think quickly and solve problems
  • be able to multi-task
  • have keyboard and computer skills
  • be methodical and well-organised

It could also be useful to have foreign language skills.

Entry

You do not need set qualifications to become a hotel receptionist, but employers look for a good standard of general education.

If you are aged between 16 and 24 you may be able to enter through an apprenticeship scheme. (See Modern Apprenticships in the Funding section)

If you are not entering through an apprenticeship scheme or after a college course, you will find it useful to have experience of customer service or office work. Some employers may prefer you to have experience of using a telephone switchboard or a particular computerised reservations and booking system.

Training

You will be trained on the job by experienced staff. Some employers have in-house structured training schemes.

You may be able to work towards SVQs, either through work-based training or day release to college.

  • Level 2 Front Office
  • Level 3 Hospitality Supervision

Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs/HNDs) in Hospitality Management are available, which could be useful if you want to develop your career into management.

The hospitality sector in the UK is growing.

Prospects may depend on the size of the organisation. Larger hotels and hospitality chains are more likely to have a career structure that may lead to promotion to shift leader, supervisor, and head receptionist.

Receptionists with the right skills and experience could be promoted to front office manager or hotel manager, but they might need to take further qualifications, such as HNCs/HNDs/Degrees in hospitality management.

It is possible to move to different areas of hotel work, such as events and banqueting services, sales, personnel or accounts, and then on to management. Many large hotels encourage staff to work in different departments so that they become multi-skilled and have better promotion prospects.

A list of courses Hospitality Training provide for Hotel Receptionists can be found here.

Hotel Porter

The Work>

Hotel porters are often the first people to greet guests at a hotel. Their work includes:

  • helping guests by carrying luggage and showing them to their room
  • advising on hotel facilities
  • arranging taxis and parking cars
  • looking after keys
  • running errands, such as taking and picking up dry cleaning
  • taking messages
  • giving directions
  • answering queries and making reservations

If the hotel has a conference suite, the porter may be responsible for moving and setting up equipment. In a large hotel, duties may be more specialised.

Hours & Environment

Full-time hotel porters usually work around 40 hours a week on a shift system, depending on the hotel. Part-time or seasonal work may be possible. Split shifts and overtime are common.

Hotel porters spend most of their time on their feet, both indoors and outside. They carry heavy or awkward loads such as luggage, laundry, furniture and conference equipment.

Skills & Interests

To be a hotel porter, you should:

  • enjoy working with people
  • be friendly and welcoming
  • have good communication skills
  • have a smart appearance
  • have stamina and a reasonable degree of physical fitness
  • be able to cope with bending, lifting and carrying

Entry

You do not need formal academic qualifications for this job although some employers ask for a good general education. It is likely to be an advantage if you have experience of working with the public.

If you are applying for a job where you are expected to serve alcohol you will need to be 18 or over.

You will need a full driving licence if your job involves parking guests' cars.

If you are aged between 16 and 24 you might be able to enter the hotel industry through an apprenticeship scheme. Please see the Training section for more information.

Training

You will usually be trained on the job by experienced staff.

You may be able to work towards:

  • SVQ Level 2 in Multi-Skilled Hospitality Services

Apprenticeships may be available for those under the age of 24.

A list of courses Hospitality Training provide for Hotel Porters can be found here.

Opportunities

There are plenty of vacancies for porters throughout the UK, although this varies depending on the region.

Prospects depend on the size of the organisation. There is no career structure in small hotels and you may need to change employers in order to progress. Larger and well-known hotels are more likely to have a career structure that will allow you to progress to the position of head porter or concierge. There may also be the opportunity to move to a front-of-house job.