Receptionists’ Day

May 11th, 2016 Sections: Tourism
Graphic representation of Reception at the Silk Road Lodge as used on our website

Graphic representation of Reception at the Silk Road Lodge as used on our website

Yesterday, to mark Stay up all night Night, I wrote a postcard about how I had to pull an all-nighter when I stood in for one of our receptionists who was ill.

I also mentioned that today, the second Wednesday in May, is also designated as Third Shift Workers’ Day – a day set aside to remember and celebrate those who work the ‘night shift’ … thosde who keep the world turning and preparing things for the next day, so that everything happens smoothly …

The second Wednesday in May also happens to be designated in the States as National Receptionists Day …  and has been since 1991.  Despite the word ‘National’ appearing in the title … it has spread beyond America’s borders and is now celebrated across the globe … including in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

But not, apparently, in Kyrgyzstan … not yet, anyway … which is a bit surprising given our tradition of Professional Holidays.

The stated purpose of National Receptionists’ Day is to:

  • Foster a recognition of the importance of the receptionists role. They are usually the first person a customer or client meets when they visit a company.
  • Promote pride and professionalism amongst receptionists for the important role they play within an organisation.
  • Give receptionists an opportunity to share stories and link up with other colleagues.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than a million receptionists in the United States alone … but they don’t all work in hotels.  Receptionists are found in all sorts of organizations

The idea behind the day is to highlight and reflect on their importance and hard work, as the people who are often the first person encountered by visitors to the organization, whether customers, staff, the authorities or VIPs, whether in person (face to face), on the telephone, or in correspondence.  As such they are responsible for providing a good first impression which may well set the tone for future relationships … playing a vital role in creating and maintaining the company’s image … as well as keeping the day-to-day operations of the organisation’s ‘front office’ running smoothly and efficiently.


Whenever I am asked to write a reference for one of our staff. (or former staff), I have a standard proforma … having introduced myself and how I know the person,  one paragraph outline the sort of work that they have undertaken, and skills that they need to have mastered … before going on to comment on how they have performed their duties.  Because the refences tend to be brief – one page – there isn’t enough room to go into detail and only broad headings are used.  The tasks performed by a receptionist are myriad and it’s surprising how much is hidden behind those “broad headings’.

One textbook, for example, gives the following list, (which is not meant to be exhaustive … but gives an idea of what is involved), of tasks typically undertaken by a hotel receptionist.  Some of the tasks are fairly obvious but there is a tremendous amount that is not in the:

  1. Check guests in and out
  2. Enter reservations into the hotel systems
  3. Deal with telephone enquiries
  4. Transfer calls to other departments
  5. Sign for and check all deliveries
  6. Handle cash, and other safe deposits
  7. Deal with requests from guests for local information
  8. Deal with guest queries and complaints
  9. Co-ordinate arrangements for functions and events
  10. Deal with conference delegate registrations and conference organiser requests
  11. Arrange dinner bookings
  12. ‘Upsell’ meals and in-house services to guests
  13. Process faxes, emails and letters
  14. Process deposits, payments and generate bills
  15. Administer ‘signage’ and other information for the front desk
  16. Keep the front of house area clean
  17. Arrange for coffee stations and other items to be refreshed
  18. Update room availability on certain websites
  19. Arrange maintenance repairs
  20. Complete courtesy calls to guests
  21. Program electronic keys and sign in/out hard keys
  22. Complete regular reservation checks
  23. Liaise with all departments to enhance guest experience


They need an equally impressive list of skills:

  • Interpersonal skills – liaising with guests, colleagues and management to ensure smooth running of the entire hotel;
  • Organisational skills – a key feature of working on Front of House is the ability to be well organised at all times;
  • Negotiation skills – whether it is handling a complaint, or selling a room, they will often need to negotiate with others to get the best possible outcome for all parties;
  • Call handling skills – a lot of business comes from telephone enquiries, and a lot of complaints are handled over the phone as well; so how a call is handled is crucial;
  • Salesmanship – a key part of any customer facing role, they need to be able to utilise every opportunity to increase revenue across the hotel;
  • I.T. skills – as, these days, a lot of they work is computerised, they will need to be adept at using the computer systems in place, and use them in accordance with company guidelines to retain consistency;
  • Multi-tasking skills – because the nature of the job is such that several tasks will arrive the front in rapid succession – if not simultabeously … hence there will often be a need to juggle the various demands … multitasking, be it using the computer whilst on the phone, or checking a guest in whilst directing them to their room.


That’s quite an impressive list … and I can see why this Professional Holiday is well deserved.  Maybe it’s time to start thinking about how we can commemorate the day in 2017.


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