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A Day in the Life: Front Desk Clerk, Hotel

Front desk clerks greet arriving guests and check them into hotels and lodging facilities. They give them room keys and paperwork, and direct them to guest rooms and various areas of the hotel. They field questions throughout the guests’ stay, and check guests out of the hotel when they depart. The first and last impressions that guests have of their hotel are tied into the professionalism and attitude of front desk clerks. The job requires confidence and strong people skills. Front desk clerks play an important role in the guests’ overall customer service experience of the hotel. Guests who arrive to find a front desk clerk who is quick to help them settle in and who is able to provide helpful information will remember that experience the next time they are planning a trip and deciding on where to stay.

Here is one example of a day in the life of a front desk clerk:

6 a.m.: Wake up. Grab a cup of coffee and have some breakfast. Then get dressed. I work for a medium-sized chain hotel and there are different uniforms for different jobs, but the color themes are the same because they’re part of the brand. My uniform is black pants and a white and teal striped shirt with my name tag on it.

7:40 a.m.: Park my car in the employee parking lot at the hotel. My shift starts at 8 and I usually arrive a little early. I don’t like rushing into work. A calm start helps me kick off the day with a clear head. I have to work with various people throughout the day, some of whom may be stressed and exhausted from their travels. It won’t help them, or me, for that matter, if my energy matches theirs.

7:45–8:00 a.m.: Greet manager and coworkers. Discuss how the previous shift went and if there are any problems that have carried over to the morning that need to be resolved.

8:00–8:30 a.m.: Review and maintain inventory of vacancies, reservations, and room assignments. There is a bus of tourists on a cross-country trip that is scheduled to arrive between noon and 1 p.m. We have an extra person working the front desk to help speed the check-ins along.

8:30–10:00 a.m.: Field inquiries about reservations and room availability by telephone and e-mail. Check guests in and have the bellhop stow their luggage in the early check-in room. Guests have access to their rooms starting at 2 p.m. They can use the grounds before then, such as the pool and the restaurant, and then collect their things later when housekeeping is finished. Sometimes rooms are available earlier, depending on vacancies that week. I remind guests they can come back before 2 p.m. to check on the status of their room. I also handle some check-outs during this time. Most people don’t need to visit the front desk to check out but those who do usually have questions about charges they received during their stay. I review the charges and correct any fees that guests may have incurred by mistake. I verify the guest’s credit card information and collect payment.

10:00–10:30 a.m.: A handful of guests have called to complain about a strange smell in one area of the hotel. Several rooms near where they are staying are undergoing renovations, including the installation of new carpeting. I tell guests the floor manager will be there shortly to assess the situation, and then I alert the floor manager about the situation. He will find out what the workers are using to install the carpeting, if the ventilation is appropriate, and what can be done to remedy the situation for the guests in the vicinity. One option may be to relocate them to other rooms, and to upgrade their rooms somehow to compensate for the inconvenience. I make notes about the calls in each guest’s record in the hotel’s computer database.

10:30–10:45 a.m.: I notice some rumpled napkins and used coffee cups on one of the tables in the lobby. The bellhop and doorman usually do a quick pick-up of detritus in the lobby but they’re both busy at the moment with guests. Things have slowed down at the front desk, so I walk around the lobby and straighten up a bit. I also see that the display with brochures about local attractions is running low in some spots and I refill those spots with the appropriate brochures. The front desk is my main priority, but when there’s down time, it’s up to me to contribute however I can. We are all on the same team, and we all pitch in to make the hotel as presentable as possible.

10:45–11:45 a.m.: Handle more check-ins and telephone inquiries. A delivery truck with flower arrangements for an evening event pulls into the front of the hotel and the driver comes in, asking for directions to the conference area. I give him a map of the hotel grounds and direct him to the delivery area for the conference rooms.

11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.: The bus full of tourists has arrived and the lobby is filled with people and their luggage. The tour leader discusses the check-in arrangements. The rooms have been reserved as a block, and they are all on the same floor. We have people line up and start checking them in. We give them their room assignments, room keys, and paperwork. I continue to juggle phone inquiries and other guests’ in-person inquiries throughout. Multitasking is a key skill in this job!

12:45–1:30 p.m.: Lunch break. I usually take it around noon but when things are really busy, I adjust the time to accommodate the work flow. (Plus we needed all the help we could get when that tour bus arrived!)

1:30–4:00 p.m.: Review e-mails and respond to inquiries in writing, and field more telephone inquiries. More guests arrive since the official check-in time starts at 2 p.m. I check guests into the hotel, assign them their rooms, and provide them with paperwork including receipt for payment. I give them their room keys, the map of the grounds, discuss the hours the restaurant and pool are open, and mention any recent news regarding hotel maintenance that may affect their stay, for instance, the rooms that are being renovated. This type of information is always on the hotel’s Web site but it’s my job to also inform guests about it when they arrive.  I also direct guests who checked in earlier to the area where they can retrieve their stowed luggage.

4:00 p.m.: It’s clock-out time for me. The front desk clerk who works the night shift (until midnight) arrives and we have a quick exchange about what happened during the day and if there are any pending problems that need attention during her shift.

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