Article by Josh Stone
There are many different career paths in the hospitality industry. Everything from receptionists, maître d’ and bellhops.
A receptionist is an office/administrative support position. The work is usually performed in a waiting area such as a lobby or front office of an organization or business. The title “receptionist” is attributed to the person who is specifically employed by an organization to greet any visitors, patients, or clients.
The hospitality occupation has been the traditional domain of women, but more men today are becoming involved in receptionist duties, possibly under different names of employment, such as front desk coordinator, or information clerk. During the late-1990’s, some companies have begun to refer to their receptionist with the upgraded title of “Director of First Impressions.”
A receptionist is usually expected to have a high school diploma or the equivalent, but a receptionist may also possess a vocational certificate/diploma in business and office administration. Although a post-secondary degree is not normally required for this position, some receptionists may hold four year university degrees in a variety of majors. A few receptionists may even hold advanced degrees.
The business duties of a receptionist may include: answering visitor inquiries about a company and its products or services, directing visitors to their destinations, sorting mail, answering incoming calls on multi-line telephones or a switchboard, setting appointments, filing, records keeping, keyboarding/data entry and performing a variety of other office tasks, such as faxing. Some receptionist may also perform bookkeeping or cashiering duties. Some, but not all, offices may expect the receptionist to serve coffee or tea to guests, and to keep the lobby area tidy.
A receptionist may also assume some security guard access control functions for an organization by verifying employee identification, issuing visitor passes, and by observing and reporting any unusual or suspicious persons or activities.
A receptionist is often the first business contact a person will meet at any organization. It is an expectation of most organizations that the receptionist maintain a calm, courteous and professional demeanor at all times regardless of the visitor’s behavior. Some personal qualities that a receptionist is expected to have in order to do the job successfully include: attentiveness, a well groomed appearance, initiative, loyalty, maturity, respect for confidentiality and discretion, a positive attitude and dependability. At times, the job may be stressful due to interaction with many different people with different types of personalities, and being expected to perform multiple tasks quickly.
Depending upon the industry, a receptionist position can be considered be a low-ranking, dead end or servile position, or it could be perceived as having a certain veneer of glamour with opportunities for networking in order to advance to other positions within a specific field. Some people may use this type of job as a way to familiarize oneself with office work, or to learn of other functions or positions within a corporation. Some people use receptionist work as a way to earn money while pursuing further educational opportunities or other career interests such as in the performing arts or as writers.
While many persons working as receptionists continue in that position throughout their careers, some receptionists may advance to other administrative jobs such as customer service representative, dispatcher, interviewers, secretary, production assistant, and executive assistant. In smaller businesses, such as doctor’s or lawyer’s office, a receptionist may also be the office manager who is charged with a diversity of middle management level business operations. When receptionists leave the job, they often enter other career fields such as sales and marketing, public relations or other media occupations.
The advancement of office automation has eliminated some receptionists’ jobs. For example, a telephone call could be answered by a computer. However, a receptionist who possesses strong office/technical skills and who is also adept in courtesy, tact and diplomacy is still considered an asset to a company’s business image, and is still very much in demand in the business world.
The maître d’ (short for maître d’hôtel, literally “master of the hall”) in a suitably staffed restaurant is the person in charge of assigning customers to tables in the establishment, and dividing the dining area into areas of responsibility for the various servers on duty. He or she may also be the person who receives and records advance reservations for dining, as well as deal with any customer complaints and making sure all servers are completing their tasks in an efficient manner. In some localities or traditions the post is also known as the headwaiter or captain.
In the United States, these functions may be vested in a manager, supervisor, or cashier. A working maitre d’ here is usually associated with a destination restaurant, or one connected with a four-star or better hotel. Though the distinction between a maître d’hôtel and host is, in practice, one of nomenclature, less elite establishments employ a “host”.
A bellhop (also bellboy or bellman) is a hotel employee who helps patrons with their luggage while checking in or out. The job’s name is derived from the fact that the hotel’s front desk would ring a bell to summon an available employee, who would “hop” (jump) to attention at the desk in order to receive instructions.
Historically, this employee traditionally was a boy or adolescent male who may have been otherwise unskilled but able to carry luggage; hence the term bellboy. Often (s)he wears a uniform, like certain other page boys or doormen. In many countries such as the United States, it customary to tip such an employee for his or her service.
This hospitality position can also be held by a woman today, with the progression of equality in the workplace. The term “bellperson” is much less gender specific. The duties that are included in this job are opening the door, pulling luggage, calling cabs, giving directions, basic concierge work, and responding to any need of the guest.
Some larger apartment buildings or groups of buildings retain the use of a concierge, without the traditional disposition whereas the concierge saw all comings and goings. The concierge may, for instance, keep the mail of absented dwellers; be entrusted with the keys of apartments in cases of emergencies in the absence of the inhabitant; and other services.
In hotels and certain other facilities, a concierge assists guests with various tasks like finding taxicabs, restaurants, and interesting places to visit. In upscale establishments, a concierge is often expected to “achieve the impossible”, dealing with any request a guest may have, no matter how apocryphal or strange, relying on an extensive list of personal contacts with various local merchants and service providers.