Door Attendant/Commissionaire

The Job and What's Involved

Door attendants/commissionaires are usually employed by prestigious venues, such as hotels, theatres, restaurants, exclusive retail stores and even public venues like museums and exhibitions. Customer service is the focus of their job. Usually situated at the venue's main entrance, a door attendant/commissionaire is expected to deliver a superior customer service. They welcome guests and customers as they arrive and ensure they leave the building safely.

In addition to opening doors and guiding people in and out of the building, their duties can include:

  • Opening vehicle doors.
  • Hailing taxis.
  • Using an umbrella to keep guests dry when arriving and departing.
  • Answering questions from visitors.
  • Providing directions to local attractions and informative facts.
  • Helping elderly or less able people.

Depending on the venue, they may also help to:

  • Enforce a venue dress code.
  • Maintain orderly queues.
  • Ensure doorways are kept clear.
  • Support security personnel, observing visitors and reporting any incidents.
  • Close down and lock up venues at the end of the evening.

Positioned at the main entrance, door attendants/commissionaires may also be responsible for co-ordinating other employees. In hotels, this may involve calling upon the services of parking attendants to safely park and collect vehicles, and porters to unload and carry luggage and show guests to their rooms.

Door attendants/commissionaires in large venues may also take on the task of organising teams and rotas, reporting directly to the concierge or venue manager.

Door attendants/commissionaires working for a hotel or retailer usually work 37 hours a week. This normally involves shift work, covering evenings and weekends. Early starts are more common in hotel and retail work. Restaurants and theatres often adopt split shifts, which means working two shifts in a day - in the afternoon and again in the evening. It may be necessary to work bank holidays. Part-time and seasonal work are also available.

Door attendants/commissionaires are usually on their feet all day, positioned at the main entrance. Shelter is often provided in the outdoor lobby area. Even so, they do work outdoors and can be exposed to all weather conditions, providing shelter to guests walking between their vehicles and the foyer.

Personal presentation is very important and smart uniforms, often suits, are provided by employers. Some traditional venues still require their door attendants/commissionaires to wear formal attire, such as a top hat and tails.

Starting salaries may be around £10,600 a year.

Customers may tip door attendants/commissionaires. Shift work and weekend cover may also increase salaries. Those working in a hotel may be given the option to live in. Deductions from their salaries are usually made to cover the price of food and lodgings.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Door attendants/commissionaires may work in hotels, exclusive shops and department stores, theatres, offices and other public venues. They may also find employment welcoming VIP guests at exclusive clubs and nightclubs. These door attendants will need to be specially licensed - see the article Door Supervisor for more details.

A large proportion of the hospitality and retail jobs are in major UK cities, although some may find work in large country hotels.

Vacancies are usually advertised in local papers, trade publications like Caterer and Hotelkeeper and at Jobcentre Plus offices. Hospitality jobs are also published on specialist websites like www.hcareers.co.uk and www.caterersearch.com.

Education and Training

Most employers look for the right personal qualities and positive attitude rather than formal academic qualifications. Many do not employ applicants under the age of 18 years. Some may prefer applicants to have GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). Experience of customer service in a busy or prominent establishment is often an advantage.

Some may take the Apprenticeship route, working in events or hospitality. This may involve door duties.

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

A door attendant/commissionaire usually receives practical training from experienced personnel. This may involve working under supervision for a time.

Part of their induction training may involve attending in-house health and safety, customer service and security workshops.

It is also possible for door attendants/commissionaires to work towards relevant qualifications, such as:

  • VRQ Level 1 Introductory Certificate in Hospitality Customer Service (HAB).
  • VRQ Level 1 Introductory Certificate in Customer Service (Service Sector) (HAB).
  • VRQ Level 1 Introductory Certificate in Conflict Handling (HAB).
  • VRQ Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service.
  • VRQ Level 2 Certificate in Conflict Handling and Prevention (HAB).
  • Certificates in Customer Service at Levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Front Office.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Hospitality Supervision.
  • NVQ's/SVQ's at Level 1 in Hospitality and at Level 2 in Multi-Skilled Hospitality Services.

Many further education institutions offering NVQ's/SVQ's or VRQ's also offer key skills, that can be taken at the same time, for example communication, IT, application of number and working with others.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Door attendants/commissionaires should have:

  • A friendly, approachable and polite manner.
  • A smart personal appearance.
  • A willingness to help people.
  • A responsible and reliable attitude.
  • High standards of customer service.
  • Good observation skills.
  • Stamina to remain standing for lengthy periods of time.
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills.
  • Confidence to deal with any challenging behaviour from customers/guests.
  • A team approach.

Your Long Term Prospects

Larger establishments, particularly the hotel chains, may offer a more structured career and development path, developing future supervisors and managers with the right personal qualities. In hotels there is the potential to take on responsibility for all the front desk service as head concierge. In theatres the equivalent is front of house supervisor/manager.

Applicants with Level 3 or 4 in Customer Service or Level 3 in Hospitality Supervision may have improved prospects for promotion.

Some door attendants may use their skills to work in a different customer service environment. Some may work overseas for prestigious travel operators, including cruise liners.

Get Further Information

The Hospitality Awarding Body (HAB), c/o City & Guilds,
1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD
Tel: 0870 060 2556
Website: www.hab.org.uk

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

Security Industry Authority (SIA),
PO Box 9, Newcastle upon Tyne NE82 6YX
Tel: 08702 430 100
Website: www.the-sia.org.uk

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

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