Hotel Porter

The Job and What's Involved

Hotel RoomHotel porters help guests in many different ways - from carrying their luggage and calling taxis to sorting mail and delivering newspapers to guests' rooms. Porters are often the first people to welcome guests when they arrive at a hotel, so they have to create a good first impression.

Depending on the size of the hotel and the services it offers, porters might:

  • Show guests to their rooms.
  • Show them around their rooms and explain how any equipment works, such as TV controls.
  • Describe the hotel facilities, such as the restaurant or swimming pool, and show guests where they are.
  • Park guests' cars and find taxis.
  • Run errands for guests, such as taking and picking up dry cleaning.
  • Post letters and pass on messages.
  • Give directions.
  • Answer questions about things like local attractions or shops.
  • Find out train or plane times.
  • Make reservations for theatre or travel tickets, or book tables at restaurants.

In a large hotel, porters would not necessarily do all these tasks. They may share responsibilities with other porters and be given specific duties.

Porters might be called on to help housekeeping, restaurant or banqueting staff set up rooms or move larger items of furniture. In some hotels, porters help the conference or banqueting department by setting up equipment such as microphones or slide projectors, serving coffee and tea, checking the room is ready and tidying up meeting rooms.

Porters have an important role in the event of a fire or other emergency, making sure that help is called and that guests are evacuated safely.

Porters who are on duty overnight may have extra jobs, such as checking in late arrivals, preparing and serving snacks or breakfasts, and checking out departing guests.

Head porters are in charge of a team of hall porters and possibly door staff. Their responsibilities include recruitment, staff rotas, supervision and budgets. The head porter is also the person that guests will rely on for local information, to book tickets and so on.

Hotel porters work around 40 hours a week. They are likely to work shifts or split shifts (which means working in the morning and coming back for the evening or night duty). Some shifts start very early and others finish very late. Porters also have to work some weekends and bank holidays.

They may be able to work part time or on a seasonal basis.

Although they may be based at reception or in the porter's office, hotel porters are on their feet for most of the working day - sometimes in the hotel and sometimes outside in all weathers, greeting guests or hailing taxis. They have to lift and carry awkward or heavy loads, such as luggage, laundry or tables and chairs, but often use special trolleys and equipment to do this.

Starting salaries are around £9,000 a year. Employers usually provide uniforms. Hotel porters may be paid extra for working shifts or overtime, and guests may give tips.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are more than 35,000 hotels and guest houses across the UK. The larger hotels are more likely to employ porters. There are also jobs in private clubs and holiday centres.

Hotels may be small, with just a few rooms and maybe a breakfast room or bar. Others may be part of an international chain and have restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, laundries and shops.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, in Jobcentre Plus offices and on recruitment websites such as www.caterer.com and www.hcareers.co.uk. Jobs are also advertised in the local press and there are many recruitment agencies that deal with hotel positions.

Education and Training

It is possible to become a porter without any formal qualifications, and many employers look for a smart appearance and pleasant, helpful manner rather than certificates. However, some prefer applicants to have a good general education, and many prefer not to take people under the age of 18.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Porters are usually trained on the job, under the supervision of experienced staff, over several weeks or months. They may be able to work towards qualifications such as:

  • SVQ Level 1 Porter Service.
  • NVQ's Levels 1 and 2 in Front Office.
  • NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service for Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Hotel porters need to be:

  • Friendly, welcoming and polite.
  • Fit and strong enough to lift and carry, and to stay on their feet all day.
  • Smart at all times.
  • Discreet, and respect guests' privacy.
  • Able to drive, though this is not essential for all jobs.
  • Knowledgeable about the local area.

Your Long Term Prospects

In a small hotel, there may not be much scope for promotion and it might be necessary to move to another employer to progress.

Larger hotels and chains are more likely to have a career structure. Porters may be able to progress to head porter or concierge, or move into other departments such as reception or housekeeping.

Get Further Information

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
Website: www.people1st.co.uk

Springboard UK Limited,
3 Denmark Street,
London WC2H 8LP
Tel: 020 7395 9497
Website: www.springboarduk.org.uk
(Regional addresses are listed on the website.)

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