We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Hotel Receptionist?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A hotel receptionist, also sometimes called a hotel desk clerk, is a person who works at the front desk of a hotel, greeting and assisting guests. Receptionists are typically responsible for everything from helping people make reservations to managing available rooms, issuing room keys, and solving any problems that may arise during the course of a stay. In most cases, he or she is the first person that guests will interact with at the hotel, which makes the role one of some importance.

Customer Service Duties

The bulk of a hotel receptionist’s work is directly related to customer service. They must have an authoritative knowledge of the hotel and surrounding area, since they often field questions from guests and potential guests about the general environment. Much of this happens over the phone: in most cases, calls placed to hotels are routed directly to receptionists.

Desk workers are also generally responsible for making and managing reservations. Most of the time, this happens with the help of booking software programs. Receptionists need to understand how to work these programs, and need the poise to be able to respectfully alert customers when mistakes like overbooking have occurred.

When guests arrive at the hotel, the hotel receptionist will greet them and check them in. He or she will assign keys, will arrange for any needed baggage assistance, and will answer all questions about amenities and hotel policies. Check out follows the same process.

Financial Duties

The hotel receptionist is in charge of collecting room payments and settling accounts. He or she must know how to process credit cards, and must be able to add room charges for things such as newspapers and food delivery. Fees for damage to the property and charges for missing items are also usually handled by the receptionist.

Most of the time, the desk clerk will manage a cash drawer, as well. He or she will not usually keep much money, but will often handle basic transactions like sundry purchases or key replacement fees.

Overlap with Concierge

In a small hotel, the receptionist may also be responsible for helping guests plan day trips, rent cars, or make restaurant reservations. Most major hotels have a dedicated concierge for this purpose, but even so, the hotel receptionist is often expected to play a supporting role. When the concierge is busy or unavailable, the desk clerk is usually the go-to person for anything a guest needs.

Required Skills

To succeed as a hotel receptionist, a person must generally have an outgoing personality, and be able to competently handle a number of different tasks at once. Receptionists must be quick on their feet, and have top-notch math and computer skills. Prior customer service experience may also be required.

Most hotels require their receptionists to hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent. More advanced degrees, especially those with an emphasis on hospitality or travel, often make candidates more competitive, however. Competition is particularly steep at well-known hotels and resorts, where receptionists are typically better paid than at smaller, up-and-coming establishments.

A hotel receptionist is also likely to need a flexible schedule. Many hotels staff their reception desks around the clock, which means that working hours can vary dramatically. Receptionists typically earn more “regular” hours the longer they have worked, but should expect to work nights and weekends, at least at first.

Promotion Potential

For some people, work as a hotel receptionist is itself a dream. Others begin at the front desk as a way to move on to other more influential or important positions. Many hotel managers, concierges, and event planners started out staffing the reception area.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By giddion — On Jan 23, 2013

@seag47 – I'd say that good etiquette is the most important skill of a person holding a hotel job. I've talked to receptionists over the phone who were really rude while I was trying to make reservations, and that put me off of staying there ever again.

By orangey03 — On Jan 22, 2013

Sometimes, people who work housekeeping jobs can be promoted to receptionist at the same hotel. I knew a girl doing housekeeping part-time during college who applied for the receptionist position after she graduated and got it.

This may not be something that happens often, but it can happen. It helps if the manager already knows your work ethic.

By seag47 — On Jan 22, 2013

It may not always be required, but a degree in hospitality management sure looks good on a hotel receptionist's resume. My friend got hired at the first place where she applied after getting her degree.

Hotel managers like people who know what to expect from the job. My friend had the necessary training and knew how to work the computer programs already. She also knew the basic etiquette when dealing with guests.

By OeKc05 — On Jan 21, 2013

You never really see the full hotel receptionist job description in the classifieds section of a newspaper. You don't get the details until your first interview, but you still don't get the full story until you've worked there several years.

My sister had to go above and beyond her job description many times during her career as a hotel receptionist. However, the pay was good, and she got hired without having a degree in anything, so she didn't complain too much.

Still, you have to be willing to do strange things for people at times. Some of them are needier than others and will get on your nerves with frequent requests and questions.

By MrsPramm — On Oct 27, 2012

@browncoat - You'd think wrong. It's actually quite difficult to get work in a hotel now, just because people have realized it's a pretty decent job. Not too hard, not too repetitive, and the money is fairly good.

It's not going to suit everyone of course and as you say, it does depend on the hotel, but my sister worked in a hotel for a while and she told me she considered it the easiest paycheck she's had for a while.

She's a naturally cheerful person though and really liked her workmates and that always makes a difference, I guess.

By browncoat — On Oct 26, 2012

@Iluviaporos - I think it probably depends on what kind of hotel you're working for. Any hospitality job is going to have belligerent or inconvenient customers, but the nicer the hotel the better I imagine the working conditions would be.

It would certainly beat working retail anyway. And I imagine it's not too difficult to get this kind of job.

By lluviaporos — On Oct 25, 2012

@vogueknit17 - I once thought it would be a fairly easy job. I had this idea that working as a night hotel receptionist must be wonderful, because all you have to do is basically sit there in case a hotel guest has an emergency. I figured it would be a great job to catch up on my reading.

That was before I stayed in a hotel and ended up having to go downstairs to get some earplugs in the early hours of the morning. Not only did I have to wait because there were other people stumbling in after a night out, but the receptionist looked really pale and stressed even once they went away.

Working a night job is tough and I guess hotels are never quiet. I have a lot of respect for anyone who works hotel receptionist jobs.

By helene55 — On Mar 21, 2011

In smaller hotels, the front desk might be run by assistant managers who have a lot of other duties as well in making sure things run properly. It's a very good idea to be polite to these people, because they are often in charge of every detail of your hotel stay.

By vogueknit17 — On Mar 20, 2011

People often write off hospitality jobs like hotel reception, but it can teach you a lot of good skills. Any sort of front desk work means you need to be good with people skills, with knowing who to contact if there are problems, and being able to answer questions. If you work at a hotel that hosts other sorts of events, like conferences, that can add a whole other set of duties and information you need to be able to use. It might seem simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

By anon156948 — On Mar 01, 2011

Very good of you to give us all this information.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.