A hotel receptionist, also sometimes called a hotel desk clerk, is a person who works at the front desk of a hotel, greeting and assisting guests. Receptionists are typically responsible for everything from helping people make reservations to managing available rooms, issuing room keys, and solving any problems that may arise during the course of a stay. In most cases, he or she is the first person that guests will interact with at the hotel, which makes the role one of some importance.
Customer Service Duties
The bulk of a hotel receptionist’s work is directly related to customer service. They must have an authoritative knowledge of the hotel and surrounding area, since they often field questions from guests and potential guests about the general environment. Much of this happens over the phone: in most cases, calls placed to hotels are routed directly to receptionists.
Desk workers are also generally responsible for making and managing reservations. Most of the time, this happens with the help of booking software programs. Receptionists need to understand how to work these programs, and need the poise to be able to respectfully alert customers when mistakes like overbooking have occurred.
When guests arrive at the hotel, the hotel receptionist will greet them and check them in. He or she will assign keys, will arrange for any needed baggage assistance, and will answer all questions about amenities and hotel policies. Check out follows the same process.
The hotel receptionist is in charge of collecting room payments and settling accounts. He or she must know how to process credit cards, and must be able to add room charges for things such as newspapers and food delivery. Fees for damage to the property and charges for missing items are also usually handled by the receptionist.
Most of the time, the desk clerk will manage a cash drawer, as well. He or she will not usually keep much money, but will often handle basic transactions like sundry purchases or key replacement fees.
Overlap with Concierge
In a small hotel, the receptionist may also be responsible for helping guests plan day trips, rent cars, or make restaurant reservations. Most major hotels have a dedicated concierge for this purpose, but even so, the hotel receptionist is often expected to play a supporting role. When the concierge is busy or unavailable, the desk clerk is usually the go-to person for anything a guest needs.
To succeed as a hotel receptionist, a person must generally have an outgoing personality, and be able to competently handle a number of different tasks at once. Receptionists must be quick on their feet, and have top-notch math and computer skills. Prior customer service experience may also be required.
Most hotels require their receptionists to hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent. More advanced degrees, especially those with an emphasis on hospitality or travel, often make candidates more competitive, however. Competition is particularly steep at well-known hotels and resorts, where receptionists are typically better paid than at smaller, up-and-coming establishments.
A hotel receptionist is also likely to need a flexible schedule. Many hotels staff their reception desks around the clock, which means that working hours can vary dramatically. Receptionists typically earn more “regular” hours the longer they have worked, but should expect to work nights and weekends, at least at first.
For some people, work as a hotel receptionist is itself a dream. Others begin at the front desk as a way to move on to other more influential or important positions. Many hotel managers, concierges, and event planners started out staffing the reception area.