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Head Baggage Porters

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In larger hotels, in addition to bell captain, there will also be a head baggage porter. Although we have previously listed many duties of the baggage porter as those of the bell captain and bellhops, this work is handled exclusively by baggage porters in larger hotels. Setting up rooms, supplying travel information, buying transportation tickets, arranging shipment of express articles, and handling baggage and suitcases of guests who are departing are the exclusive duties of the baggage porter in the larger hotels.

The head baggage porter must keep time records of all employees in the department; interview, instruct, discipline, and discharge employees in the department; rotate the staff on calls equitably; and in general perform the same supervisory function as the bell captain.

One of the head baggage porter's primary responsibilities concerns making transportation arrangements, shipping express articles, and buying transportation tickets. For this reason, this person is also commonly referred to as the transportation clerk. His or her office may be called the transportation desk.



Baggage porters are generally appointed from the elevator operating staff, housekeeper's ranks, or other departments of the hotel. Occasionally, a hotel will appoint a baggage porter to this job who has had no outside experience. People with experience at other hotels are also considered.

Baggage porters aspire to be head baggage porter. Most porters reach this position only after several years' experience. The next step up the ladder is appointment as superintendent of service. However, this promotion more often goes to the bell captain than to the head baggage porter. From superintendent of service, the path leads to front office or managerial positions.

The working hours and conditions of employment for baggage porters are usually the same as those for bellhops.

Other Service Department Functions

Service departments of hotels will differ, depending upon the size of the hotel and staff and the operation policy of the hotel's management. Departmental setups will vary from hotel to hotel.

Accordingly, some hotels offer additional opportunities for employment in the service department. These positions include door attendant, checking attendant, porter, page, and secretary to superintendent of service, lobby attendant, rest room attendants, shoe shine attendants, and others. For further information, apply to the personnel department or superintendent of service for details of other jobs.

With the exception of the head of this department, hours of work in the service departments of most hotels are based on the three-shift system. Hours will vary, depending on the size of the hotel and nature of its operation, and this three shift system might not then apply. In general, however, employees in this department work about eight hours a day, five or six days a week.

Pay also varies, depending upon the size of the hotel and the city. Bellhops and porters make more money in larger hotels or resort hotels where more services are demanded. In these settings, their earnings may run as high as $500 weekly and more, including tips.

The average wages received by superintendents of service can range from $300 to $400 weekly in smaller hotels. More money is earned in larger hotels. Bell captains' and head baggage porters' incomes average about the same. Since transportation services are often provided by the head baggage porter, this person's income can sometimes be greater by virtue of large tips received on these transactions.

Because most, though not all, earnings in this department are augmented by tips and side money, one cannot consider the average wage as the complete remuneration. In general, earnings of service department employees run much higher than their base average wage scales would indicate. Earnings here may vary from city to city and hotel to hotel. As indication of the potential earning capacity in these service jobs, people who have been bell persons or baggage porters for many years in some of the larger hotels have refused promotions many times, preferring their current positions.

HOTEL FRONT OFFICE

The entire responsibility for processing reservations, registering guests, and keeping records of room vacancies is in the hands of the hotel's front office. It must conduct these functions efficiently so that the front office manager always has enough information to make firm reservations for guests without overbooking hotel facilities. In addition, the front office performs all tasks related to registering and keeping track of guests, including providing keys and mail service.

One of the most important positions in the hotel is the front office manager. This person is charged with the responsibility of estimating the volume of future reservations, preparing for busy seasons, organizing all departmental functions so that they operate efficiently, and maintaining a close check at all times on occupied and available rooms and firm reservations. The front office manager must keep all departments' constantly in check with one another and well balanced.

Promotion to this position is generally made from front office clerks, assistant managers on the floor, credit office personnel, or other workers. Occasionally hotels will hire front office managers from outside the hotel. From front office manager, the next step up is toward a management executive post.

Under the front office manager are room, rack, and reservation clerks; key, mail, and information clerks; floor clerks' also known as assistant managers on the floor, hospitality department workers and secretaries; and filing clerks, word processors, and other clerical workers.

Front office managers, because of the importance of their work and the large number of employees they supervise, must have much hotel experience, ability, and mature judgment. Their authority over rooms is second only to that of the director of sales and the manager.

Clerks

A front office clerk generally has at least a high school education and has completed some courses in hotel training either before or during employment. Although many positions in the front office do not require higher education or special preliminary training, the opportunities offered in the department induce many front office employees to enhance their job experience with hotel training courses. This is especially true with front office clerks as their job is considered a stepping stone for managerial positions.

Front office clerks perform various duties. In smaller hotels, the front office clerk, or manager, may perform all front office duties. In larger hotels, the work is departmentalized. The front office clerks consist of room clerks who sell rooms and follow through on all functions of guest registration; rack clerks, who enter the names of newly arrived guests on the rack and clean out names of departures; reservation clerks, who acknowledge and make reservations by phone, letter, fax, e-mail, or telex; and various other subdivisions, depending on the size of the hotel and its staff. In many hotels, data processing has eliminated the need for a rack clerk. An office clerk does all check-in and check-out duties using software programs on a computer.

In general, front office duties include the mechanical processing of reservations, sale and registration of rooms, keeping room racks accurate and up to the minute, furnishing guest keys or key cards, and handling complaints about rooms or other accommodations. Front office clerks also receive and forward mail, give information about guests registered or expected where permitted, and provides local information concerning room rates and times of departure.

While front office clerks are sometimes employed directly from outside applicants, it is general hotel practice to fill these openings with other staff employees, such as bell persons, credit workers, clerical employees, or other personnel. For the more responsible jobs in this department, people with similar experience at another hotel are often hired.

Since you may be promoted from front office clerk to manager, at least a high school education, and preferably a college degree, is recommended for success. If you cannot continue your general education, you should definitely complete special courses in hotel training given by the schools and colleges. You can complete special hotel training courses while you are employed, if necessary. Correspondence courses are available as well.

The three-shift system usually prevails in the front office. The shift employing the fewest workers is the night shift, since most new guests arrive during the daylight hours or before midnight at the latest.

In small hotels, the owner-manager may handle the duties of the front office with or without an assistant. There is more opportunity for advancement and for obtaining knowledge in a large hotel than in a small one. The larger hotel, because of its size and scope of operations, offers many more chances to perform hotel duties.
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