Hotels, motels and resorts market their rooms, amenities and proximity to mountains, beaches, skiing, golf or other local attractions, as the case may be. The hotel front desk agent serves one of focal points of the hotel’s customer service image. The following job description explains the duties, training and qualifications needed for these professionals and how the demand for travel influences their job prospects.
What Does a Hotel Front Desk Agent Do?
In addition to being the initial and main in-person contact for guests, the agent must ensure the comfort and safety of guests. Through their skills, knowledge and ability to act promptly and professionally, hotel front end agents can facilitate the guests’ overall experience as a tourist or business traveler.
Hotel Front Desk Agent Job Duties
- Welcome and sign in hotel guests
- Receive payments for room charges, or unpaid balance, at check-in
- Notify early arrivals when room is ready for occupancy
- Distribute room keys, hotel rules or policies, receipts and check-out information
- Assign bell-hops or assistants, if any, to take luggage
- Respond to guests’ requests for room service or questions
- Inform housekeepers when guests have check-out of rooms in order to prepare for incoming guests
- Prepare complimentary or continental breakfasts and snacks in lobbies
- Advise guests of and answer questions about area or nearby attractions, restaurants or events
- Clean and organize lobby and entrance areas as needed and as time permits
- Receive from and transmit messages to guests
- Make reservations from customers by telephone, online or in person
- Inform prospective guests of room availability
Hotel Front Desk Agent Job Essential Skills
Communication. Hotel front desk agents need to clearly speak and courteously with guests about hotel pricing, terms of service and discounts. Communication also includes listening to and understanding the questions and concerns of guests and those making reservations.
Computer. Hotels book guests, track room readiness and vacancies and receive payments through computers and software. Front desk agents also need to email guests reservation confirmations and notices when rooms are ready. With the computer aspects of the position comes the ability to accurately and expeditiously use keyboards and pads.
Interpersonal. Patience, tact and courtesy are essential traits of front desk managers. Guests may lodge complaints about service or disagree with pricing and charges. As part of their customer service role, agents should frequently ask guests if assistance or service is needed.
Math. Skills in calculating or entering charges, discounts and payments help front desk agents accurately present and explain room bills.
Physical. The hotel front desk job description includes the ability to stand for extended times, usually between six and eight hours per work shift. Work duties may require some lifting, walking, extension of arms and bending or squatting.
Problem-Solving. In a hotel, issues range from a guest missing certain room items to emergencies requiring evacuation. To find solutions, the agent must know how to find supplies, maintenance or housekeeping personnel, safety procedures and emergency contacts. Certain hotels may require the agent to have first-aid training or certification.
Becoming a Hotel Front Desk Agent Professional
Entry into this occupation typically requires education, experience, training or some combination thereof in customer service or the hospitality industry. Through one or more of these avenues, candidates acquire and demonstrate their ability to practice proper etiquette, deliver customer service and enhance guests’ travel experience – whether the guest is on business or personal time.
Education and Training
Depending on the employer, some community or technical college education or even a high school diploma will suffice. According to O*NET, three out of four “Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks,” which include front desk agents, hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Approximately 11 percent attended some college, but did not graduate, while six percent earned associates’ degree.
Community college courses focus on the nature of the hospitality industry, regulations that affect hotels and front desk or lobby operations. Students also learn principles of room security, record keeping, sales, marketing and management of hotel or resort properties and units. Following completion of a program, students can earn certification as a Certified Front Desk Representative from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA EI).
Employers may offer company-specific training or orientation to new front desk agents. Topics consist of company or hotel policies, discounts, reward programs and amenities of resort properties.
Customer service lies at the heart of being a hotel front desk manager. Accordingly, prior work in retail, call centers or as a cashier or receptionist demonstrates candidates’ ability to handle customer needs effectively. Where an employer seeks experience in the hospitality industry, helpful positions may include those in travel agencies, independent or smaller-scale hotels or motels; and property management firms.
Familiarity with the particular employer can enhance employment opportunities. Prospective front desk agents may come from the ranks of bellhops or housekeepers who have become well-versed in the hotel’s policies, operations and culture.
Hotel front desk clerks can fill both full and part-time positions, depending on the particular company. As front desks are typically manned at all hours, agents may work evenings and late nights, as well as during the day. However, the peak periods for check-in usually occur in the daytime as hotels may have checkout between 10 am and 11 am, with check-ins in the early afternoon.
Most hotels operate year-round, which means that front desk clerks can expect to work weekends and holidays. Due to weather conditions, resorts in some areas may open only on a seasonal basis. For instance, many ski resorts may close in the peak of summer or warm weather periods due to difficulty in retaining snow. In higher elevations where temperatures remain cold enough, skiing may occur into June.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a rise of nine percent in the employment of “Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks,” or 21,900 additional openings, through 2024. As of 2014, the occupation numbered 243,000 employees.
The increasing amount of travel and resulting higher demand for lodging should spur employment opportunities for front desk clerks. According to an AAA survey, nearly 35 percent of Americans expected to take a vacation more than 50 miles from home in 2017. Nearly three out of ten families planned to get away three or more times in the year.
Business obligations and functions should also sustain the need for hotel front desk agents. In particular, executives, entertainers, athletes and employees who must travel away from home offices for trade shows, inspection of company properties or meetings will continue to need overnight lodging.
Work as a front desk agent can lead to promotions to positions in front-end management, other supervisory roles within a hotel or sales positions.
Candidates for front desk agent positions must combine skills of customer service and knowledge of the hospitality industry. The job description goes beyond check-in and check-out of guests and reservations. As situations may warrant, hotel front desk agents may have to arrange for maintenance, respond to emergencies and ensure the security of guests.