A day in the life of a Hotel Receptionist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 243,000 hotel receptionists—also known as front desk receptionists, front desk clerks, front desk agents and sometimes guest service agents—employed in the U.S. today and earning an average annual salary of $22,610. These individuals play a highly important role in the success of the hotels, motels, resorts and other lodging establishments in which they work. Should you choose to become one, let’s take a closer look at the tasks you’ll perform in a typical day on the job.
The shift you are assigned determines the time you will report to work. Some hotel receptionists work early morning to midday. Others work from the afternoon into the late night. Overnight shifts are also possible. While you may be able to request the shift or shifts you prefer, it’s likely you’ll be working weekends and at least the occasional holiday if you pursue a career as a hotel receptionist.
Each shift will begin with a rundown of the events of the previous shift. If the employee on the desk before you was working to solve a guest problem, you’ll need to step in where he or she leaves off. You’ll also need to take over any other administrative tasks in progress. If you work at small hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and you happen to work the morning shift, you may need to prepare the breakfast area as well.
Throughout the day, you’ll answer the phone, transferring calls for guests to their rooms, taking messages and booking future stays. If potential visitors call with questions about the hotel or special offers currently available, you’ll answer them. If vendors or other service providers call to speak with other departments or the hotel general manager, you’ll transfer the calls or take messages when appropriate. Current guests may also call down from their rooms with special requests, which you will need to route appropriately.
As guests call or email to book a room or arrive at the hotel for their visit, you’ll use a computerized system to make their reservation or check them in. Check in generally requires a number of steps, from verifying the guests’ identity and credit card information to explaining potential fees and other details necessary to ensure a stay free of unpleasant surprises. Some guests may ask to upgrade their room or make another request that requires you to adjust room assignments.
As a hotel receptionist, you’ll also be responsible for checking out guests on the last day of their stay. This will require completing check-out procedures including collection of room keys, explaining any additional fees, and running the guest’s credit card for payment. Some guests may complain about certain aspects of their stay. When they do, you must remain pleasant and calm, thank them for letting you know about their displeasure, and find a way to turn their experience around.
You’ll need to field questions, requests and complaints from current guests as well. Some may need assistance navigating the city or making restaurant or theatre reservations. Others may need a safe place to store their valuables. Many will ask you to recommend things to do for entertainment in the area. No matter how busy the front desk is at the time, you’ll need to respond to each guest in a friendly, courteous and timely manner.
Depending on the size and organizational structure of the hotel, there may be other duties for which you’ll be responsible. However, your number one priority as the face of the establishment—the first person guests see when they arrive and the last as they leave—is to ensure visitors feel welcome, have their needs met and are eager to return.