Hotel receptionists are responsible for making guests feel welcome, dealing with room bookings and cancellations, and handling general requests made by guests during their stay.
As a hotel receptionist, your main duties would include:
- dealing with reservations by phone, e-mail, letter, fax or face-to-face
- checking guests into and out of the hotel, allocating rooms and handing out keys
- preparing bills and taking payments
- handling foreign exchange
- taking and passing on messages to guests
- dealing with special requests from guests (booking theatre tickets or storing valuables)
- answering questions about facilities in the hotel and the surrounding area
- dealing with complaints or problems.
In larger hotels, you would use a computerised system to make reservations and keep room bookings and availability details up-to-date. You would work as part of a team and you may specialise in one aspect such as telephone reservations or checkouts.
In small hotels, your duties may include a wider range of tasks such as showing guests to their rooms and serving drinks in the bar.
You would usually work shifts, which could include evenings, nights, weekends and public holidays. Split shifts are also common. You may be paid extra for working unsocial hours. Part-time and seasonal work is often available.
You would spend most of your time behind a reception desk, using a computer and telephone switchboard.
- Starting salaries can be between £12,500 and £14,500 a year.
- With experience and supervisory responsibilities this can rise to around £20,000 a year.
Meals and accommodation are sometimes provided.
Figures are intended as a guide only.
Many employers will prefer you to have a good standard of general education and possibly some GCSEs (A-C) in subjects such as English, maths and IT. Some employers will also want you to have experience of using a telephone switchboard or a computerised reservations and booking system.
Previous experience in customer service or office work would also give you an advantage.
You could prepare for this work by taking a relevant full- or part-time college course, such as:
- BTEC Level 2 First Certificate/Diploma in Hospitality (which includes units in Accommodation and Front Office)
- BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Front Office Operations
- BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Hospitality Customer Relations
- City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Reception Operations and Services.
Entry requirements for these courses can vary, so check with colleges or training providers for details.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You will normally be trained on the job by experienced staff. Some employers also have in-house structured training schemes and you may be encouraged to work towards qualifications such as:
- NVQ Level 1 in Hospitality (Front Office) and Level 2 in Front Office
- BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Hospitality (Front Office Operations)
- BTEC HNC in Hospitality Management.
Skills and Knowledge
- excellent written and spoken communication skills
- a friendly and professional telephone manner
- the ability to vary your approach depending on the guest
- patience and tact
- the ability to stay calm under pressure and multi-task
- good problem solving skills
- the ability to use computerised technology
- a methodical approach to your work
- accuracy and attention to detail.
It may also be useful to have foreign language skills.
Your prospects for promotion can vary depending on the size of the organisation. With larger hotels and hotel chains, you are more likely to have access to a career structure leading to shift supervisor and head receptionist posts.
With experience and qualifications, you may be able to progress to front office manager or hotel manager. Alternatively, you could move to different areas of hotel work, such as events and banqueting services, sales, personnel or accounts, and then into management.
Within a large hotel, you may be encouraged to gain experience in a range of different departments, which would increase your skills and promotion prospects.
You could also move outside the hospitality industry, into areas such as customer service and administration.
Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, Jobcentre Plus and on websites such as Directgov (Jobseekers page), Caterer.com and hcareers.