A hotel porter is a hospitality professional who ensures that guests of a hotel receive services which make their stays more enjoyable. The precise duties of a hotel porter vary, depending on the hotel and the region of the world the porter works in. In all cases, the focus of the job is on providing customer service and keeping guests as contented as possible so that they will be more likely to return in the future.
In large hotels, hotel porters may work primarily outside the hotel, with bellmen working inside the hotel. An outside hotel porter collects the luggage of patrons when they arrive and ensures that it is delivered to their rooms. When the patrons are ready to leave, the porter collects the luggage and loads it so that it is ready to go. Hotel porters may also run errands on behalf of guests, such as picking up theater tickets, dropping off and collecting dry cleaning, calling cabs, and similar tasks.
In smaller hotels, porters may also work as bellmen, in which case in addition to handling luggage outside, they also show guests to their rooms, demonstrate the features of the room to guests, and act as a point of contact for guests who need assistance. Bellmen report any problems with the room to maintenance personnel, and may assist patrons with changing rooms if their rooms are unusable for some reason, and they also run errands for guests, make reservations at local restaurants and entertainment venues for their guests, answer questions, provide recommendations for regional attractions, and assist in emergencies.
In an emergency, a hotel porter helps guests evacuate safely, and assists with the implementation of safety plans. Porters can also assist staff members of the hotel with tasks such as moving furniture, organizing rooms, and managing guest needs. In a hotel which lacks a doorman, hotel porters hold the door open for guests in addition to managing their luggage.
This type of work is highly demanding. A hotel porter must be courteous, professional, friendly, and outgoing at all times, and he or she needs to be able to work long shifts. A hotel porter may work eight hours without a chance to sit down, and no matter how uncomfortable a porter is, he or she still responds to guests with a smile. Porters may also have to perform a wide variety of errands, some of which may seem unreasonable, without complaint. Rates of compensation for porters tend to be low, unless they are in a large hotel in which porters are ranked, with an opportunity to advance to a higher pay scale. However, porters can anticipate tips for good service.