Hotel 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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Hotel porters need to be:
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.
People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
Springboard UK Limited,
3 Denmark Street,
London WC2H 8LP
Tel: 020 7395 9497
(Regional addresses are listed on the website.)
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.