Cloakroom Attendant

The Job and What's Involved

Cloakroom attendants look after coats, bags and other items for customers in hotels, theatres, museums, nightclubs and airports, or at social events. Their job is to keep personal belongings safe and return them to the owners when they leave.

Typical things they may safeguard include coats, hats, bags, briefcases, laptop computers and potentially highly valuable items.

A cloakroom attendant's main duties are to:

  • Attach tickets or identification discs to items.
  • Issue customers with a matching ticket or disc.
  • Safely store items on hangers or racks, on shelves or in lockers or, occasionally, in safety-deposit boxes. They must do this in a set order, so items do not get mixed up.
  • Return items to customers on receipt of the matching ticket or disc.
  • Accept payment and give customers their change, though the service is free in some venues.
  • Remain on duty, safeguarding items until customers return.

Many cloakroom attendants have other duties, depending on where they work. Examples may include:

  • Welcoming customers to the venue.
  • Providing customers with information.
  • Handing out leaflets and programmes.
  • Checking tickets in concert halls and theatres and showing people to their seats.
  • Supervising washrooms and toilets, which may mean keeping them stocked with soap and toilet rolls.
  • For those who work in hotels, overseeing the guest messaging service.
  • X-raying luggage if working in a left-luggage office at a railway station, airport or bus station.

Although not normally liable for any loss, all cloakroom attendants have a responsibility to follow company and security policies. This typically involves recording the details of any incidents and can mean liaising with security staff.

Working hours vary between jobs. Cloakroom attendants often work shifts and during evenings and weekends, although this depends on the venue. Part-time work is very common, as is temporary work. Some attendants combine this work with other full-time or part-time jobs.

Cloakroom attendants work indoors. Most of the work is based in women's and men's cloakrooms, central cloakrooms, or luggage departments and left-luggage offices.

The work can be physically demanding if there are heavy cases to lift. Depending on the venue and time of day, there may be times when work can be very busy and when it can be quiet.

Cloakroom attendants are expected to look tidy. Some employers may provide a uniform.

The starting salary for full-time attendants may be around £12,000 a year. Those working in constantly busy venues may earn around £16,000 a year. A head attendant with some supervisory responsibilities could earn up to £20,000 a year.

Many cloakroom attendants are paid an hourly rate, which can range from the minimum wage up to around £7. They may receive tips from customers, which increase their earnings.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Cloakroom attendants work throughout the UK and may be employed full time in:

- Large hotels and restaurants
- Conference centres
- Exhibition centres
- Reference libraries
- Museums
- Railway stations
- Bus stations
- Airports

Cloakroom attendants also work for the following, usually on a part-time basis:

- Theatres
- Concert venues
- Nightclubs

Many cloakroom attendants combine this work with other duties.

It is not a large area of work and there are generally more vacancies than applicants.

Jobs may be advertised in local newspapers, in trade publications like Caterer and Hotelkeeper and at Jobcentre Plus offices. Jobs may also be advertised on specialist websites like www.hcareers.co.uk and www.caterersearch.com and on employers' websites.

Education and Training

Cloakroom attendants do not usually need any formal academic qualifications. Applicants, though, are expected to have basic literacy and numeracy skills, as cloakroom attendants usually handle cash and need to follow written instructions.

Although not essential, there is a range of hospitality and customer service qualifications that may be useful for people seeking work as a cloakroom attendant. They include:

  • The Diploma in hospitality.
  • Level 1 Certificate in introduction to the hospitality industry.
  • Level 1 Certificate in exploring the hospitality industry.
  • Entry 3 Award in exploring the hospitality industry.
  • Entry 3 Certificate in exploring the hospitality industry.
  • Level 1 Award in introduction to front office operations in hospitality.
  • Level 1 Award in introduction to housekeeping operations in hospitality.
  • Level 2 Award in the principles of customer service for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism.

Employers generally look for applicants with the right personal qualities. These include good customer service skills, honesty and reliability. They will often try to gauge whether an applicant will fit in and work well with other members of staff. It is helpful to have had previous experience of working with the public, particularly in a customer service role.

It can be possible to enter this work through an Apprenticeship in hospitality and catering.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Cloakroom attendants are usually trained on the job. This may involve working under supervision for a short time to learn the precise duties. Those working with larger employers will usually have an induction programme that includes areas such as health and safety, evacuation procedures, security, customer care, recording incidents and employer policies. Some may also be trained for using x-ray machinery and explosives detectors.

Cloakroom attendants may be able to work towards a qualification, such as the City & Guilds Level 2 Award in the principles of customer service in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism. There are no specific entry requirements. The Award is designed to give an appreciation of:

  • The importance to an organisation of providing excellent customer service.
  • The role of the individual in delivering customer service.
  • The importance of customers' needs and expectations.

Cloakroom attendants who have additional duties like cleaning cloakroom facilities usually receive some housekeeping training. It is possible to work towards NVQ Level 2 in housekeeping.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A cloakroom attendant should:

  • Have basic literacy and number skills.
  • Have a polite and helpful manner.
  • Be honest and trustworthy.
  • Have a smart personal appearance.
  • Be well organised.
  • Be reliable and responsible.
  • Use initiative for recognising when additional tasks need to be done.
  • Be able to work well alone and in a team.
  • Be able to deal with busy times calmly and professionally.

Your Long Term Prospects

The scope for progression for cloakroom attendants varies between employers, although larger companies tend to offer a more structured career path. For example, cloakroom attendants working for a hotel chain may be able to progress to concierge or receptionist. Promotional prospects may be better for people with qualifications in customer service or hospitality.

It may be possible to be progress to a supervisory position, particularly in airport and railway left-luggage departments. It can be helpful to have worked for the Level 3 Award in the principles of supervising customer service performance in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism.

Get Further Information

Institute of Hospitality, Trinity Court,
34 West Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1SH
Tel: 020 8661 4900
Website: www.instituteofhospitality.org

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

Springboard UK Ltd, 3 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP
Tel: 020 7497 8654
Website: www.careerscope.springboarduk.net

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