One key position in the department is that of timekeeper. The timekeeper is responsible to the paymaster. It is this person's duty to record the time of employees' arrivals and departures where there are no time clocks. He or she fills out time sheets, services the time clock, and performs other such duties. The timekeeper's reports are used by both personnel, for records, and by the paymaster, for computing the payroll.
Because a considerable number of hotel employees wear uniforms of one kind or another, most hotels provide lockers and dressing rooms where employees can change clothes. The personnel department locker crew regularly checks employee lockers, replacing locks when employees leave employment or are discharged and repairing lockers as needed. The crew also looks for articles of value left behind in the dressing room, or in unlocked lockers, and keeps track of them.
These personnel functions are supervised by the department head the personnel director. While many personnel directors have worked their way up, today's hotels demand people with special education and training in personnel work. In most cases, a college education is required of applicants for this department. Many colleges today have special courses of study in personnel and human resources. In many instances, the personnel director participates in labor negotiations and may also supervise employee relations. In this case, specialized education and training is a must. Promotion from personnel director is straight up the ladder and may lead towards a managerial office.
Opportunities to enter personnel work are offered to persons who have not had hotel experience, if they have completed educational and human resources work. In some instances, hotels will promote other workers to positions in the personnel department. Conversely, employees in the personnel department are eligible for promotion to other departments where openings exist. By the nature of their work in personnel analysis and job evaluation, personnel workers learn a great deal about hotel operation. The experience to be gained in this department is invaluable in starting a hotel career.
The average yearly salary in this department is $25,700, based on a regular eight-hour, five- or six-day week (1995, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hours are generally regular, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
BANQUET AND CATERING DEPARTMENT
Since the banquet department is primarily concerned with food and its service, one would think that this department naturally belongs in the back of the house. But since hotel banquet departments deal directly with guests or groups desiring space for conventions, meetings, luncheons, dinners, and other functions, the banquet department is considered front of the house.
In many hotels, banquet and catering functions make up a large portion of the profit from food operation. Group banquet business results in considerable revenue, not only from food and liquor sales, but from room rentals as well. A considerable amount of room business has been lost by hotels with inadequate banquet facilities.
Associations and business groups require a large amount of public space for exhibits and meetings at their annual conventions. They also need adequate ballroom and public space to accommodate the general luncheons, dinners, and meetings held for their membership. Accordingly, when officers of these groups plan their annual conventions, they are guided in their choice of a city and hotel by the size of the facilities available to accommodate their group. For this reason, cities that can provide adequate convention space-including large assembly halls for general meetings and enough small meeting rooms for divisional meetings- attract this large group business. Cities like New York, Atlantic City, Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, Miami, Miami Beach, Dallas, Fort Worth, Boston, Washington, and others even have special bureaus to solicit such group business. Because it results in extra billions of dollars in revenue for their hotels, restaurants, amusements, theaters, stores, and transportation facilities, cities vie for this convention business.
Such large group business results in concentrated service and good profits, and hotels seek to obtain as much of this business as possible. Banquet facilities and the operation of the banquet department figure largely in how much large group business an individual hotel receives.
The banquet manager, who supervises this department, is usually responsible to both the catering manager and the director of sales. This is so because the banquet manager fulfills two functions: one as a food manager and the other as a salesperson. In many hotels today, the trend is to make the banquet department, although it operates independently, part of the sales department.
All arrangements for banquets and other social functions are supervised by the banquet manager. This person directs the physical setups at all functions, draws up contracts and signs them, suggests or arranges for entertainment, and cooperates with all other departments involved in serving group business, such as the front office rooms, sales department which may have brought this business to the hotel, housekeeping, and others. The banquet manager is responsible for the efficient operation of all functions at the affair and must see to it that the hotel carries out its part of the bargain.
Banquet work is highly specialized and requires experience not only in planning menus and arranging meeting and convention setups but also in food costs and control. A banquet manager must know how to eliminate costly items from banquet menus without reducing the quality or appearance of the meal. He or she must know how to increase the sale of profit-bearing food and liquor and be able to sell his or her personality and ability to guests and committees.
The banquet manager can reach this position by starting at the bottom and learning each phase of food operation on the way up, or he or she can prepare to work in this department by taking special educational and culinary courses. In some hotels, promotion to banquet manager is made from the sales department, chef-steward's office, or managerial staff.
The size of the banquet staff depends upon the size of the hotel and its banquet operations. Their duties include selling space, scheduling events, keeping date books to avoid duplications of bookings, arranging for the listing of daily and weekly events on bulletin boards, suggesting and making up sample menus, arranging all functions for social events, setting up menus and programs, and servicing all functions.
Years ago, a young person interested in the banquet department apprenticed as a chef's helper, then became a kitchen assistant, next an under or assistant chef, and up the ladder to a chef depot age, or salad chef. The next step would be promotion to chef or banquet manager. Today's banquet people are trained personnel in food and hotel operations. Many excellent schools specialize in food and restaurant control and operation, which are so important to a banquet manager.
If you plan to enter the banquet department, you should therefore prepare by specializing at school in food and hotel courses. If this is not possible at the school or college you are attending, make arrangements to attend a school that has a course in hotel and restaurant operation.
After you have completed your education, start out in the chef-steward's department or as a beginner in the banquet department. The chef-steward's department is preferable because you will gain better groundwork in food preparation, cost, administration, and menu preparation here than in any other department. Many who have succeeded in the banquet field first started out as assistant waiters or waiters in hotel or outside restaurants. Food experience is important not only to success in the banquet department but to future success in any hotel career.
Banquet departments also include staffs of banquet waiters supervised by the banquet head waiter. These are waiters specially trained in banquet operations, which differ from regular table waiting. To aid the waiters, there are assistant waiters and housekeepers who set up tables, bars, and buffets before the waiters furnish them. The housekeepers clear out furnishings after each function.
Educational requirements for these positions are not rigid. If you cannot continue with advanced schooling, you can educate yourself in food operation by working in food departments. If you start as an assistant waiter or waiter, do not rely on this kind of on-the-job training exclusively. Once you have gotten your feet on the ground, make arrangements to augment your practical experience with courses in food costs, control, preparation, and operation. Also add courses in hotel management and operation. These will help round out your experience and facilitate your advancement. Many of the most successful hotel executives started out on the lower rungs of banquet operations. Opportunity is yours here, and your advancement will depend upon your own education, personality, ability, energy, ambition, and will to succeed.