Should I work in a hotel?
March 19, 2008 3:17 PM   Subscribe

What is it like to work in a hotel? I'm interested in getting a job at a local one and would like to know what it's like.

I'm only planning on working in a hotel here for the next couple months (till August) cause I need to do some serious money saving so I can move. Does anyone work in a hotel and have advice or information good or bad? Thank you! Also I'm female if that will help any regarding the safety of the situation as I'll be working as many hours as possible day or night.
posted by grablife365 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A ex of mine worked in hotels for a while - I'm pretty sure she's made it a career.

When she'd work front desk, most of her time was spent answering phones and checking people in. It was stressful but mindless in the sort of way any low-level service job is. She wasn't very tech-savvy, so she didn't have any problems using the ancient reservations system. There were some interesting stories, but by and large the job was uneventful, and quite safe. Even though she often worked the graveyard shift, she never had any problems.

It was also surprisingly rewarding-sounding. She spoke functional Spanish, and took great joy in being friendly to otherwise-miserable travelling hispaƱolas especially. Of course, she also got to help the travelling families, as well. Basically, she could be friendly when she wanted to be, and help to brighten someone's day. If you enjoy customer service, it can actually be sort of fun.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:24 PM on March 19, 2008

Can you give more specifics about what position or what type of hotel? I've done front desk/night accounting at three different hotels. I never had a concern about safety, even though one position left me as the sole employee in a 100 room hotel for 6 hours each night. But I preferred the bigger hotels I worked at, such a variety of co-workers and usually lots of young people laughing in the backrooms and kitchens.

Even though you're planning on moving on soon, you may find that a little bit of brains and honest work will lead to quick promotions. There is often so much turnover, that sticking around for even 1 year can sometimes lead to you being the most senior person. Not that the pay at the front desk will ever be that great, but it sometimes leads to more interesting jobs. Especially if it's a conference or convention hotel and you can move into the sales department. And if you work for a chain that has a hotel where you're planning to move to, you may be able to have a new job waiting for you when you get there.
posted by saffry at 3:40 PM on March 19, 2008

saffry, I have seen job postings for different jobs. Like dsh washer, receptionist, and room cleaner. I'm up for any of them though of course the reception job would be great. None of the hotels here are very big though. Its more like small to mid-sized. I'm not exactly sure on the type though. I'll look into it.
posted by grablife365 at 4:08 PM on March 19, 2008

I don't know if any of these jobs will really bring in "serious money" but here's my thoughts.

Dishwasher: Lots of hard work. Brutal really. But when your co-workers quit, call-out, get arrested etc., you get lots of overtime. Can lead to a job as a cook if you're interested in that route.

Room Cleaner: Slightly less brutal. Usually don't work nights, unless the hotel has a part-time "turn-down" position. Very routine work, without much mental stress.

Front Desk: Can swing between absolute boredom to constantly on your feet depending on the day of the week, time of day or how many conventions/sports teams/weddings are in-house. The most "genteel" of the starting positions, but usually with a low pay. Probably looks better on a resume if you're looking at any kind of office-type job in the future since you'd get computer & telephone training.

If you're looking at mid-size hotels, like the chains near every highway exit, I'm not sure that there's that much difference in which chain you work for. Some of the competing franchises even use the same management companies, which is who you'd really be working for. I'd personally stay away from a mom&pop place, because I'm a corporate drone and I like the training and standards that the larger corporations have.

Just looked at your previous ask-me's, do any of the hotel's have fitness centers? Larger hotels would have someone on staff there, although they may require lifeguard/CPR training.
posted by saffry at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2008

I worked all shifts from time to time at moderate-sized hotel/motels in Northern Alberta, a few years back, where we got a lot of traffic from oil patch guys (aka rig pigs) and there wasn't much nightlife to speak of.

Mornings, sometimes I had someone else working with me and sometimes not. There was always a massive rush at checkout time, but otherwise I cooled my jets a whole lot. But because a manager was always there, I couldn't dog it as much as I wanted.

Evenings, again I sometimes and sometimes did not have someone else working with me. Fair-sized rush between 5ish and 8ish but otherwise I could dog it quite a bit unless we had a bus tour or sports team or whatnot passing through.

Night audit, I worked alone. Ample time to dog it then, but a bit creepy at weekends, when a lot of the guys who seemed normal enough during the week got wasted and rowdy. One time I had to call a taxi for a crying hooker and one time I had to ask newlyweds to stop shagging in the public hot tub. I never once felt personally threatened, although someone did once offer me $4.65 for my sweet lovin'.

(No, really. He rented a VCR from me for $5.35, paid with a tenner and didn't take the change, and wrote PLEASE COME SEE ME on the back of the slip.)

I think the worst experience I ever had was with a woman who bullied me--because then I could be bullied--into giving out her husband's room number. He had a cheatin' heart. Second worst was the hunter who wanted to share his suite with all his slaughtered animals. But like I say, this was Northern Alberta.

I would say that as far as safety goes, if you stick with a niceish place, you might not love life every second but no harm will come to you. It's cynical to say but there's a liability issue, you know? Nobody where I worked ever got touched or robbed or anything like that.
posted by melodie at 6:12 PM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Working at the front desk of a hotel is mindless and boring, although can be good money in the right place. You answer phones, check people in and out, call management if something is wrong, and listen to people complain about things that you personally can't change. Generally you have a lot of down time between the rush of checkout in the morning and the check-ins in the afternoon or evening...i spent most of my time messing around online...
posted by unreasonable at 7:19 PM on March 19, 2008

I'm at work right now.
If that's not reason enough for you to try for the front desk job, I don't know what is.
posted by comiddle at 11:06 PM on March 19, 2008

I've worked front desk and bellhop at a large hotel and front desk at smaller places.

Front desk is a lot of sitting around bored (I did a lot of reading) punctuated by periods of extreme stress during peak check-in/check-out times. The busy periods aren't much different working a small hotel versus a bigger, more upscale place, though I guess in general the customers are more personable and less demanding at the smaller places. The atmosphere during the down periods will depend a lot on the management, your co-workers and the size of the place. You might be the only onsite staff if it's small, or you might be on a front desk team of 6 or more if it's larger. You might have internet access and permission to read a book when it's not busy, or you might be on camera and expected to sweep the lobby and clean the glass doors if nobody's coming in. These are all things to ask about at the interview.

Working as a bellhop at a big hotel was actually my favorite wage-slave job ever. Your base pay is at or near minimum wage, but you make a lot on tips that, at least in my case, were under the table and put my take-home pay higher than the front desk staff at the same place (I know this since I was later "promoted" to front desk.) You also get into a lot more interesting conversations as you walk folks to their rooms, and the general stress level is a lot lower (there's never really a line waiting for your services since if there's no bellhop, people just carry their own bags.) I'm male and never found myself getting hit on egregiously, but I could definitely see that being a concern for a woman. In general, people are really polite and nonthreatening, but there are occasional kooks, and you don't have much recourse in a hotel room with nobody else around.

Once, working front desk at a mid-size chain hotel, I was called into a guest's room to look at a "suspicious device". The guy answers the door and both TV's in the suite are cranked full blast on different channels. He's also got the sink and tub running. He leans in close and confides in hushed tones that his ex-wife, who is in league with The Government, has been monitoring him. He's seen something suspicious hanging outside the window, and wants me to tell him who I've let into the room above his, since he's sure they're dangling a microphone down from their balcony to spy on him. He walks me over to the slider and silently points out ... the drip irrigation tube that waters the flowerbox on his balcony. I explain the sprinkler system, assure him the room upstairs is vacant (the truth,) and slowly make my way out of the room. Didn't hear from him again, and he didn't come to the desk to check out in the morning. Not sure if he stayed the night.
posted by contraption at 12:44 AM on March 20, 2008

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