Hotel Desk Clerk

Job Duties

Hotel desk clerks serve as the front line in the effort to ensure that hotel guests have an enjoyable experience. They are usually the first people that guests interact with when they first arrive at a hotel. On the one hand, they must make sure the hotel makes as much money as possible. But on the other, they must make sure that all guests are happy with their stay. They check the guests into the hotel and assign them rooms that they hope will be the type of rooms the guests will find most satisfactory. They field questions from guests regarding everything from room price to hotel services. They notify the hotel manager when important guests arrive. They often operate hotel computers.

In large hotels, hotel desk clerks usually specialize in a particular area such as keys, reservations, or information. Hotel desk clerks who work in small hotels are responsible for more general operations. They usually process mail, collect payments, record accounts, handle reservations, operate the telephone switchboard, and do bookkeeping. All hotel desk clerks must be familiar with the floor plan of the hotel, the hotel's fire escape routes, and the hotel's various mechanical systems. Hotel desk clerks often direct guests to local stores, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

Job Skills

Those interested in becoming hotel desk clerks should have a pleasant and courteous personality. They should be skilled at dealing with the public. They should be dependable, responsible, and mature.


Hotel desk clerks in an entry-level capacity usually earn between minimum wage and $9.00 per hour. Those with experience can earn between $9.50 and $11.75 per hour. Employees of hotels are typically required to work unusual hours because hotels are typically open 24 hours a day. Sunday and holiday work may even be required. Employees may become eligible for benefits such as paid vacations and holidays, insurance, and retirement plans. In hotels with restaurants, clerks may receive free meals.

Training and Education

A high school diploma and clerical skill are the most common requirements for securing a job as a hotel desk clerk. Training in typing, bookkeeping, and office machine operation is particularly advantageous. Bilingual skills are a huge plus. Many hotels require applicants to possess computer skills. Applicants who have experience in jobs such as bank teller or sales clerk may receive priority in the hiring process. Hotel desk clerks are either hired from within the current hotel staff or hired from the outside and given on-the-job training. Some trainees begin their jobs as switchboard operators, key clerks, information clerks, or mail clerks. Hotel desk clerks can advance to chief room clerk, assistant front office manager, front office manager, sales and promotion manager, or hotel manager. Experience is usually the key factor in promotions, along with personality, work performance, and education. Employers usually prefer a college education for positions that involve management.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of hosts and hostesses is expected to increase faster than the average. More hotels are expected to be built and occupancy rates in all hotels are expected to rise. The occupation has a high turnover rate, meaning most of the job openings will be due to workers leaving the occupation. Increases in business and leisure travel will also stimulate demand for these workers.

To learn more about hospitality, retail, and travel related careers, please visit our section on Hospitality Schools for more information.