PUBLISHED: 13:18 03 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:55 06 May 2010
NAME: Susie Prosper AGE: 21 PERSONAL: Susie had never had any particular interest in hotels or the hospitality industry, but after leaving school with good GCSEs and three A-Levels she was keen to start earning her own living and decided to go for a job
NAME: Susie Prosper
PERSONAL: Susie had never had any particular interest in hotels or the hospitality industry, but after leaving school with good GCSEs and three A-Levels she was keen to start earning her own living and decided to go for a job as a hotel receptionist which was advertised in her local paper.
After an informal interview, she was lucky enough to be offered the job and her hands-on training began straight away. After around three months of being shown the ropes and working alongside other more experienced members of the team, she was allowed to go it alone and work unsupervised.
Susie takes room reservations and restaurant bookings, checks guests in and out of their rooms, and also does the cashing up at the end of a shift and balances accounts at the end of the day.
She also has to answer the phone and manage the busy switchboard, directing calls to guests' rooms and responding to general enquiries both over the phone and in person.
Susie's reception team works a combination of three shifts; the early shift, which runs from 7am to 3pm, the late shift, which runs from 3pm to 11pm, and split shifts, which run from 9am to 5pm.
The team is also pivotal in the smooth running of all hotel operations providing a vital point of contact between different departments such as housekeeping, porters, sales staff, bar staff, security, duty managers and the kitchen.
SKILLS & PERSONALITY
Because the role is a front-of-house one, a smart appearance and a friendly, approachable demeanour are essential. Excellent communication skills and the ability to teamwork effectively are also paramount.
Receptionists have to juggle lots of different things at once so the ability to stay calm and focused even when there's a lot going on is vital, as is the ability to multi-task and be organised at all times.
For example, receptionists may have to answer the phone and take room bookings while simultaneously counting the restaurant's takings for the evening, paging the porters to tell them a guest needs help with some luggage, ordering dry cleaning services and directing wedding reception guests to the nearest rest room.
Basic maths skills are essential as receptionists are responsible for room and restaurant billings and might also have to balance different hotel accounts (such as bar, restaurant, rooms and so on) and cash up at the end of the day.
As such, a responsible attitude is also important as large sums of money will be handled daily.
Unfortunately, things do go wrong in the hotel business and not every customer is always happy so the ability to put people's minds at rest and provide a reassuring service is very important. Receptionists are the ones on the frontline of anything that does go wrong so diplomacy is also a very valuable attribute.
TRAINING & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Direct entry into hotel reception work is the usual route people take, although vocational courses like NVQs and BTECs are also available, and some larger hotel chains may offer their own industry-recognised in-house training schemes.
EARNINGS & PROSPECTS
Although the hospitality industry is hard work, unfortunately it doesn't tend to pay very well and hotel receptionists are likely to start off on around £10,500 per annum. However, those with more experience, who have worked their way up into team-leader roles, can earn upwards of £15,000.
Some receptionists manage to make a move into hotel sales and marketing, which means selling function venues to customers and then heading-up the actual events when they take place.
"Being all bright and breezy when you've had a really hard day can be very tough, especially when you have to apologise to customers when things go wrong - and it wasn't even your fault!"
"It's great to interact with so many different people in a day and to play a part in guests having a wonderful holiday, an enjoyable business trip or a fantastic 18th birthday party. The camaraderie between colleagues is fantastic too, especially when the team really gels together."
The British Hospitality Association: http://www.bha-online.org.uk/
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