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What does a Front Desk Agent do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A front desk agent is the person who is normally the first point of contact for guests and prospective guests at hotels, motels, inns and lodges. He customarily answers phone inquiries, greets guests as they arrive to check in, and assigns rooms. When guests depart, the agent is typically the person who settles their accounts before they leave.

In addition to handling arrivals and departures, the agent is customarily in charge of general front desk guest relations. He traditionally controls the guest room keys and keeps track of how many keys have been released for each customer. If reservations are received by mail or via the Internet, he is normally expected to post payments and verify the reservation with the customer. Handling and distributing guest mail and messages are customarily the responsibility of the front desk agent.

If a concierge is not part of the staff, the front desk agent is frequently the contact person guests approach for information on local attractions, transportation options, and restaurants in the area. He is commonly expected to be well informed enough to give sound recommendations and good advice to the hotel guests. If a problem arises concerning a guest’s accommodations, the agent normally attempts to resolve it before asking a manager for assistance.

In very large hotels, usually those located inside major theme parks or in heavily-populated resort areas, the duties of this agent are frequently restricted to greeting guests, checking them out and taking reservations. Due to the constant flow of guests, other desk clerks generally handle the other front desk jobs. During very busy times, these auxiliary clerks may assist the agent in his duties.

Success in this position generally requires very good oral and written communication skills. Being comfortable dealing with a wide range of personality types is normally considered a plus for a front desk agent. Conflict resolution skills are frequently required to keep guests happy and to help guarantee their continued patronage. Organizational abilities are usually needed to efficiently assign rooms and keep track of vacancies.

A high school diploma or equivalent is normally required for front desk agent job applicants. Some larger hotels prefer applicants for this position have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in public relations, business administration, or hospitality management. A significant number of hotels and motels provide on-the-job training for agents as well. Experience in customer service, accounting, and administrative support are generally preferred for those seeking this position.

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Discussion Comments

By anon314054 — On Jan 16, 2013

I work at a major luxury hotel as a front desk agent. Multi-tasking is an understatement for what we do. Everyone comes to the front desk for everything. Of course we check you in and we check you out, we answer phones and we go over reports, but we are also operators, doormen, bellman, room service, public relations, guest relations, housekeeping, engineering, laundry workers, therapists, accountants, mediators, security persons, computer techs, marketing and sales people, the concierge, and sadly, many more. The one thing that makes it worth it for me is creating memories for guests that will last a lifetime!

By cloudel — On Dec 19, 2012

Has anyone here ever heard of someone working their way up from a hotel housekeeping job to front desk agent? I have been cleaning rooms in a hotel for years, and I know that one of the front desk agents will be leaving next year. I'm wondering if I have a chance at this job at all.

By wavy58 — On Dec 18, 2012

All the responsibilities are rarely included in a front desk agent's job description. There will always be extenuating circumstances arising, and they will have to meet challenges.

One thing that some front desk agents probably don't think about, especially if the hotel has a concierge, is the necessity of learning the area really well. Guests frequently ask for directions or recommendations on places to go, and if the front desk agent is clueless of what to tell them, it doesn't reflect well on the hotel.

By lighth0se33 — On Dec 17, 2012

@bagley79 – I agree with you. It is important for a front desk clerk to smile and be polite, but it is equally important that they put forth a friendly demeanor while on the phone.

I have talked to front desk clerks on the phone before to make reservations, and I have been really disappointed with their tone. I understand that they have a lot to do, but rushing me through the questions and getting frustrated when I asked them to repeat themselves is no way to handle people.

I could just envision a cold, disgruntled look on their faces on the other line. Since this experience, I have made reservations online, because it is much more pleasant to click my way through the process than to have to deal with a rude desk clerk.

By orangey03 — On Dec 17, 2012

Wow, it seems that the job of hotel front desk agent is harder to get than I thought. I figured that anyone with a high school diploma could get this kind of job, because I thought it was similar to that of a cashier in a store. It sounds like there is a lot more going on there than I originally thought.

By amypollick — On Nov 17, 2012

@anon303920: It kind of depends on what the policy is for this. I do a lot of customer service and the way I do it is to hold my finger up to the person speaking to me, say, "Just one moment, please." I then pick up the phone and say, "Please hold a moment," put them on hold, and then go back to the person at my desk. Most people will understand you need to get a call, and as long as you make them feel your attention is focused on them, they'll understand.

By anon303920 — On Nov 17, 2012

A guest was asking you questions, and the phone was ringing. What to do?

By SarahSon — On Aug 07, 2011

When I worked the night shift as a front desk agent at a local hotel, I found out very quickly how much variety was required for this position.

Because there is not as much activity during this time with the guests, I was also responsible for doing some of the accounting. Many times I was the only person on staff, so if something went wrong I was the only one there to take care of it.

Sometimes this also involved maintenance and janitorial jobs that needed to be done. When I interviewed for the job, they did explain to me that this shift was quite a bit different than the day and evening shifts, and they were looking for someone who was competent in all of these areas.

It certainly helped the long night hours pass by much more quickly. While it was still important to have good customer relations skills, there were also other skills that were important for this position to be successful.

By John57 — On Aug 07, 2011

I graduated from college with a degree in hospitality management. My first job after graduation was at a major hotel chain. They required every person who was in a management position to be a front desk agent at their hotel for a few weeks.

Knowing how to be a successful front desk agent requires good communication skills and you get a very good overall picture of what keeps the hotel running smoothly.

Some people did not like this policy, but I can see how important it is to know how the front desk area runs smoothly. It is the first impression that guests have of the hotel and I think it is one of the most important jobs within the whole company.

By bagley79 — On Aug 06, 2011

A front desk agent really makes the first impression for the place you are staying at. While you will probably encounter more than one during your process of making the reservations, checking in and checking out, each one of them will leave an impression.

When I am greeted by a friendly, helpful person whether it be on the phone or in person, I am much more apt to do business with them. If I encounter someone who is not friendly, it can leave a bad taste in my mouth and I am not nearly as likely to stay there.

There are times when this job can be quite stressful when you have people standing in line to check in, ask for directions, and the phone is ringing at the same time. Being able to juggle all of these responsibilities and keeping a positive attitude makes a big difference.

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