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.